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UJ to offer master’s in clinical counseling beginning fall 2016

The University of Jamestown hopes to benefit a statewide and local community need for mental health professionals by introducing a master's in clinical counseling program, beginning fall 2016.Conversations about the program began in spring 2014 w...

The University of Jamestown hopes to benefit a statewide and local community need for mental health professionals by introducing a master’s in clinical counseling program, beginning fall 2016.
Conversations about the program began in spring 2014 when university administrators and faculty met with representatives from South Central Human Service Center and the North Dakota State Hospital to establish the future of the program.
“They were ecstatic that we were doing this,” said Ben Kirkeby, chair of the psychology department at UJ.
A top reason for the program is the need for mental health providers in Jamestown and statewide, said Stacey Hunt, program and internship director for the Human Service Center.
“We are getting a large influx of people to our area, and it’s harder and harder for us to meet the needs of those people with the current levels of (mental health) professionals that we have,” she said. “We are particularly excited about a program here in Jamestown where hopefully some of those graduates from the program would stay in town and look to benefit this specific community.”
“There is a huge shortage of counselors in our state right now,” Kirkeby added. “...when you go into a master’s in clinical counseling, it opens a lot of doors.”
The program will cost about $90,000 to get up and running, said Paul Olson, vice president of academic affairs for UJ, and will cost approximately $300,000 annually to run. Funding for the program comes internally, and the university will be applying for some grants for additional funding, Olson said.
The program’s director, Jennifer Lipetzky, looked at the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs requirements when constructing UJ’s program.
As of 2021, North Dakota legislation will require practicing therapists and graduates to be CACREP certified from an accredited school, Lipetzky said.
Lipetzky, also owner of Jamestown Counseling Center, used her personal experience as a therapist to tailor the program for students, including courses on crisis intervention, marriage and family counseling and trauma, among others.
The program hopes to enroll 10 students its first semester.
The program will require students to complete 700 internship hours, a practicum and a thesis. Along with CACREP requirements, these requirements follow state requirements for students to be licensed practitioners when they leave the university.
The State Hospital and Human Service Center have an alliance with the university to ensure students will have internships, Lipetzky said, although there is an application process before anyone is accepted.
Internships would include shadowing therapists and eventually taking on a caseload of clients, Hunt said.
The university will hire three additional professors for this program over the next couple of years, Olson said.
Lipetzky also spoke about a counseling center for students that will be developed over the next couple of years, aiding all students on campus and individuals in the program.
Olson said the program provided an opportunity for the university to be a good community member in the means of higher education.
“It’s not just about starting programs as a way to get as many new students as we can or things along those lines,” he said. “It’s making sure that those students are able to find good employment once they’re done, and to help the community out as much as we can.”
Admittance into the program will require a preferred 3.0 GPA, acceptable GRE scores for students who aren’t coming from UJ, letters of recommendation and an interview. The program costs $655 per credit hour, and 64 credits are required to receive the master’s degree.
acremer@jamestownsun.com (701) 952-8453

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