Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program Student Handbook 1. Professional Orientation

1.1 Professional Identity

As a counselor-in-training, it is vital that you begin to build your role as a professional, striving toward mastery of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are identified with the Clinical Mental Health Counseling profession as well as a professional person in the world of work.

1.2 Professional Affiliations and Service

An important part of building your professional identity is choosing activities of interest to you and participating in local, state, regional, national, and even international activities related to Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Finding your niche(s) can be an empowering and exhilarating addition to your professional identity as a counselor.  Moreover, you will develop an important voice as an advocate for mental health and can become instrumental in exacting change at all levels where mental health policy is considered.

1.3 Professional Skills and Limitations

As a student, and later as a mental health professional, it is imperative that you understand the limits of your own abilities, knowledge, skills, and authority, so you can communicate and present yourself accurately in an ethical and professional way that reflects the standards of The American Counseling Association, The American Mental Health Counseling Association, andtheFloridaStateStatutesrelated tothe Professionalof Clinical Mental HealthCounseling (or those of any state in which you reside). 


1.4 Professional Attitudes and Independent Thinking

As a student and future professional it is important that you not only learn and understand the history, theoretical tenets, and skills of the Clinical Mental Profession, but also that you think independently, exploring and challengingthe conventional theoriesand practicesofcounseling.  Free thinking is what has brought the profession to its standards of excellence throughout the many years of its existence.

1.5 Research

As the Profession moves ever continually toward evidence based outcomes in therapy, becoming familiar with and involved in the professional research in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a must, not only so you can contribute to the Profession and its professional literature, but also so you can stay up-to-date and literate in current and historic research.  There is often a disconnect between current counseling research and practitioners.  You cannot count on your place of employment to keep counselors up to date on research findings.  You can count on yourself to seek them out, resulting in “best practices” in counseling.

1.6 Disseminating Professional Knowledge

An important element of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Profession, for students, counselors, and counseling faculty, is disseminatingprofessional knowledgetoall interested parties in orderto increasetheeffectiveness ofthepracticeofmentalhealth counseling andenrich thequalityoflifeofthoseindividuals who areserved.

1.7 Demonstrating Leadership

As you move through the Program and evolve into the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Professional, your ability to demonstrate leadership is important in order to build public visibility, credibility and trust, both with clients and other counseling professionals but also with professionals from various disciplines with whom you interact.

1.8 Ethical Accountability

As with those who are already working in the field, students areethicallyaccountableto theProfession, to thepublic,and toeach other. 


1.9 Professional Counseling Post Graduate Requirements

In order to be licensed by the state of Florida, s tudents completingtheClinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) Program must meet all the State educational requirements forlicensure as aMental Health Counselor (LMHC). As ofJanuary1, 2001, all individualsapplying forlicensureor post-graduate counselinginternship status in the State of Florida are required tohave met theCACREPeducational requirements. Theseinclude a total of 60 hours of combined academic and clinical instruction (1000 total clinical hours).   


Otherlicensureissues and requirements -- including information regarding the licensure examination process and post-graduate supervision -- will bediscussed during the course of your tenure in the CMHC program.  Nonetheless, it is important that you keep up to dateon current Floridalaws related to post degreelicensure.


1.10 Program Guiding Principles

A foundational guiding principle in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and mental health counseling profession is that personal exploration and awareness is an integral part of the process, not only as a student but also as a lifelong practice.   


T he followingprinciples haveserved to guidethedevelopment ofthe CHMC program’s mission, policies and procedures,curriculum, course content andfuturedirection: 

  • P r ofessional counselors must value andhonordiversity,equity a ndequality ofopportunityforall individuals. 
  • A developmentalandglobalperspective across the life span isintegral to training professional counselors. 
  • Professionalcounselors must advocate forthemental wellness ofallindividualsregardless ofage, socioeconomicstatus, disabilitystatus, culture and/or ethnicity,gender,or sexual orientation 
  • Professional counselorsareobligated to deal with theirown internal beliefs, assumptions and behaviors with regard to sexism, ageism,racism, classism, disability, andhomophobia, etc., and toexplorethewaysthat those belief systems aremanifested. 
  • Professional counselorsare ethicallyobligatedto strivetoward their own optimal psychological health and to engagein self-careactivitiesrelated to the emotional, physical,cognitive, spiritual and intra-psychic dimensions of life. 
  • Professionalcounselorshaveanethicalobligationtowork at theirhighest level ofcompetence and to do so onlywithin their areas of expertise. 
  • The a ca d e micpreparation processmust emphasizethe a pplication oftheoryto practice andprovide ample opportunitiesfor experiential learning throughout the program.