Counseling Psychology Graduate Student Handbook

Welcome and Overview        

Welcome to the UHV Master of Arts Program in Counseling Psychology at University of Houston Victoria (UHV) in the School of Arts and Sciences.

This handbook contains policies specific to the master’s program in Counseling Psychology that supplement those found in course syllabi, the UHV Catalog, and the UHV Student Handbook. Please become very familiar with this handbook. Students are responsible for using the Handbook as a resource when questions arise and as a guide to academic and nonacademic policies and procedures.

The information in this handbook is updated annually.   PLEASE NOTE:  This handbook applies to students who are beginning their education in Counseling Psychology in the FALL 2016 semester or later.  If you are a student who began the program BEFORE Fall 2016, you should reference the 2015 – 2016 Counseling Psychology Handbook for your degree requirements.

Changes are taking place in this and other programs, so please make sure you understand your program and its expectations of you. 

Congratulations on your decision to advance your education.  Our faculty and staff are here to help you reach your goals!

Academic Program & Degree Requirements

UH-V Counseling Psychology Mission Statement

The Master’s of Arts in Counseling Psychology program is in the Social and Behavioral Sciences division of the School of Arts and Sciences at University of Houston-Victoria.  The Master’s of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology at UHV provides graduate study and clinical experience in preparation for careers in applied counseling settings and as a foundation for students interested in pursuing licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA) in the state of Texas. The program also conforms to basic master’s level training and licensing requirements in counseling for most states. The Counseling Psychology program is dedicated and committed to developing and maintaining a high-quality experience for its graduate students by meeting the emerging needs of our students, community, and region.

Counseling Psychology Program Goals

The primary goals of the Counseling Psychology Program are:

  • To prepare counseling psychology students for entry into the mental health profession.
  • To provide students with a coordinated program of study that complies with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential.
  • To provide students with a coordinated program of study that complies with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists requirements for the Licensed Psychological Associates (LPA) credential.
  • To provide students with didactic coursework, exploration of cultural diversity issues in mental health, ethical considerations, and practical field experiences through the practicum requirement.
  • To provide students with curricular opportunities for self- enhancement, critical thinking, and professional development throughout their graduate school experience, which may include participation in the Psychology Colloquium Series and faculty research projects to enrich their classroom experiences.

The student’s overall professional development and training is based upon a foundation of knowledge and clinical application of skills.  The required core of courses are designed to provide students with knowledge and understanding in assessment, career development, ethics, psychotherapy theories and techniques, life-span development, cultural diversity, and clinical applications. Students enrolled in this program are expected to pursue a plan of study to assure increased professional competence and breadth of knowledge in the field of counseling psychology.

Students completing the Counseling Degree program should be able to:

  • Integrate basic and advanced counseling skills in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of clients with an array of mental health concerns.
  • Understand counseling theories and psychotherapy techniques.
  • Articulate preferred theoretical orientation and ability to apply it to case conceptualization and treatment recommendations for clients.
  • Have a knowledge base of empirically supported treatments and interventions.
  • Have the ability to communicate effectively, in both oral and written form, with respect to their client and agency needs.
  • Have the ability to engage in decision-making, problem solving, and application of critical thinking skills in the context of the counseling profession.
  • Value and apply ethical standards and processes in the context of individual, multicultural, family, group, and career counseling.

Curriculum Requirements

Please note that the curriculum of this program has changed.  Previously, the program involved 48 hours.  Recent changes in state licensure led this program to a 60-hour course of education and training.  If you were admitted in or after 2016, you are in a 60-hour program.  If you were admitted in 2015 or later, your program was 48 hours long.  Please be aware of your degree plan requirements.  You are responsible for knowing the requirements of your program. 

The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is a 60 hour planned program of study designed to train mental health professionals for work in public and private agencies.  The Counseling Psychology Program offers graduate education by providing a curriculum that blends didactic coursework and practical field experience.  The program curriculum meets the academic requirements necessary for the Texas Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential and the Texas Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA) credential. The program provides students with a foundation in counseling theory, life-span development, career and vocational counseling, multiculturalism, ethics, psychotherapy techniques, group therapy, family therapy, and assessment techniques.  In addition, a culminating field placement is provided in an effort to incorporate classroom work with hands on experiences.

Each student must complete 51 hours of required coursework.  This foundation supports the knowledge, skill, and understanding developed through concentrated study in the area of Counseling Psychology.  For the practical application of coursework, students are required to complete 9 hours of Psychology Practicum field experience prior to graduation.  The clinical experiences provide an opportunity to assess the professional growth and development of the counseling psychology student prior to graduation from the program.

Academic Standards for Counseling Psychology Graduate Students

All Counseling Psychology Students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (B) over all graduate courses attempted at UH-Victoria, regardless of whether the courses are counted toward degree requirements. In addition, Graduate Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 on all courses that appear on the student’s degree plan, including transferred courses.  In addition, No more than two courses with earned C’s may be applied toward graduate degree plan requirements.  No credit toward a graduate degree is allowed for courses in which grades of D or F are earned, although the grades are included in the grade point average. The Director of Counseling Psychology will review student GPA at the end of every semester session to ensure the GPA requirement is being met. 

In the event a student’s semester or cumulative GPA is lower than 3.0, the student will be notified in writing that he or she is placed on academic probation for the semester.  The student will be required to meet with their faculty advisor to identify any potential problems and sign a remediation plan.  If the student’s GPA is not raised by the subsequent semester or designated date on remediation plan, the student will be in jeopardy of dismissal from the Counseling Psychology Program. Certain graduate courses may be graded as S (satisfactory), U (unsatisfactory) and I (incomplete).  Such grades will not be considered in computing grade point average.

Advisement and Orientation

One of the most important people in your graduate education is your Counseling Psychology Program Faculty Advisor or major professor. Your advisor recommends and approves your degree plan, monitors your progress, approves course selection, and recommends students for graduation.  The Director of the Counseling Psychology Graduate Program will serve as the faculty academic advisor for all counseling psychology graduate students. As soon as possible after admission to the Counseling Psychology program, but no later than during the first semester of work, you should contact your assigned advisor to develop a Degree Plan for the Counseling Psychology Master's Degree.

After the student's degree plan is signed by the advisor and department head and approved by the Graduate School, the student is expected to follow it as the basis for all subsequent enrollments. The degree plan is the primary advisement tool. It provides the listing of courses needed for graduation. The student is responsible for keeping the degree plan updated and for bringing the plan to advisement sessions.

At the beginning of each academic year, all newly admitted and currently admitted graduate students will be invited to attend a Mandatory Psychology Graduate Studies orientation conducted by the UHV Psychology Faculty. During orientation, students will receive information regarding curriculum and program requirements, and will be introduced to the Psychology faculty members. If a student is unable to attend, he/she is required to contact his/her advisor to obtain important program information.

For further information regarding degree plans or course scheduling, please contact Dr. Catherine Perz at PerzC@uhv.edu.

Recommended Schedule & Degree Plan

Counseling Psychology Program Degree Plan can be found on the Counseling Psychology Web Page.

Please be aware that courses often have previous courses as prerequisites.  This means that a course in the spring or summer may require a course from the fall.  If you plan to take a part-time load, please consult with your program director to discuss prioritizing courses. 

The following information is a suggested program schedule for the Counseling Psychology program based on Fall 2016 (or later) Admission to the Counseling Psychology Program:

Year One-Fall

PSYC 6321 Psychopathology I

PSYC 6333 Ethics and Practice of Psychology

PSYC 6334 Theories and Issues in Psychotherapy

PSYC 6336 Intellectual Assessment

Year One-Spring

PSYC 6332 Advanced Social Psychology

PSYC 6335 Techniques of Psychotherapy

PSYC 6337 Personality Assessment

PSYC 6352 Professional Practices

Year One-Summer

PSYC 6331 Multicultural Psychology

PSYC 6338 Group Psychotherapy

Year Two-Fall

PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum

PSYC 6326 Advanced Research Methods

PSYC 6330 Life-span Developmental Psychology

PSYC 6339 Theory and Techniques of Family Therapy

Year Two-Spring

PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum

PSYC 6322 Psychopathology II

PSYC 6350 Addictions Counseling

Students should plan to take their Comprehensive Examination this semester.

Year Two-Summer

PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum

PSYC 6319 *Vocational Psychology and Career Counseling

PSYC 6351 Crisis Counseling

*Students accepted into the Counseling Psychology Program may take PSYC 6319 Vocational Psychology & Career Counseling the summer before their first Fall semester enrollment.

*Please note that most courses are only offered once a year.  If you plan to attend on a part-time basis, then you should carefully look at the UHV catalog to determine which courses have pre-requisites, and what those pre-requisites are.  For example if you do not take PSYC 6336, Intellectual Assessment in the Fall of your first year, you will not be able to take PSYC 6337 Personality Assessment until the Spring semester of your second year, and this would, in turn, delay when you would be eligible for PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum.

Comprehensive Exam

Counseling Psychology Comprehensive exams are offered during the Fall and Spring Semesters. The Counseling Psychology Comprehensive exam has 200 items, 20 selected from each of the ten core classes.  The exam is taken using the online platform called Blackboard.  Exam items are randomly selected from a pool of items and then randomly ordered for each student.  Students will have three hours to complete the exam. The exam will be taken as a proctored online exam in a proctored location at UHV. Students with a minimum of 24 credit hours are eligible to take the exam.  The Director of Counseling Psychology will send students a letter when they are eligible for the exam.  Each exam item is worth one point. All students are required to obtain a minimum of 140 points (equivalent to 70%) or better out of 200 points in order to pass the exam.  For example, a score of 139 items correct (equivalent to 69.5%) does not meet the minimum score to pass the comprehensive exam. A student who fails the exam twice must complete remediation work specified by the Psychology Graduate Faculty before regaining eligibility to re-take the exam.  The remediation work is designed to increase the student’s proficiencies in areas of weakness. The remediation plan may also include the requirement that the student retake one or more courses.

As a reminder, the courses covered by the Comprehensive Exam are:

  • PSYC 6321 Psychopathology I
  • PSYC 6326 Advanced Research Methods
  • PSYC 6330 Life-Span Developmental Psychology  
  • PSYC 6331 Multicultural Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 6332 Advanced Social Psychology
  • PSYC 6333 Ethics and Practice of Psychology
  • PSYC 6334 Theories and Issues in Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 6335 Techniques in Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 6336 Intellectual Assessment
  • PSYC 6337 Personality Assessment

Practicum

At the beginning of the second year of the degree program (after the completion of approximately 20-24 credit hours, typically SUM Year 1, students should enroll in PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum.

There are several requirements that you must meet before you will be allowed to enter your first practicum.  These include that you must have passed your final project for Personality Assessment and for Techniques in Psychotherapy.  In addition, you must take and pass with a B or better the following courses:

  • PSYC 6321 Psychopathology I
  • PSYC 6330 Life-Span Development
  • PSYC 6333 Ethics and Professional Practice
  • PSYC 6335 Techniques in Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 6337 Personality Assessment, and
  • PSYC 6338 Group Psychotherapy

Enrollment in PSYC 6303 requires approval by your Faculty Advisor and the Course Instructor. You will have to submit an application for practicum for every semester you intend to enroll in the practicum course.  An announcement regarding Practicum Applications availability will be sent via UHV email to all Counseling Psychology students.  You should apply for Practicum the semester prior to your desired practicum start date.  Detailed information on practicum may be found in the Practicum Handbook, which may be found on the Counseling Psychology Web Page.

Change of Program

Counseling Psychology Graduate Students requesting to change to another graduate program within the Psychology department must be in good academic standing, satisfy all “Incomplete grades” in the Counseling Psychology program, and should complete the Graduate Action form.  Repeated switching between programs is strongly discouraged as it often delays your desired completion date and disrupts the continuity of your professional skill development.

Any student wishing to complete degree requirements for two Psychology Graduate programs must fully complete one program before applying for a second Psychology graduate degree program.  As a UHV alumnus, you are only allowed to transfer up to 50% your previous programs courses to the new program’s degree plan if you are accepted.

Failure to Meet Program Requirements

All students should expect to receive constructive or corrective feedback about their performance -- from their advisors, other faculty, other supervisors, and from their peers -- at various points during their graduate student career, and students are expected to demonstrate both openness to self-examination and diligence in addressing and improving upon their weaknesses when such constructive feedback is received.

Serious concerns about student performance within the Counseling Psychology Program are rare. However, when serious concerns do arise and/or students fail to comply with program requirements, policies, and procedures, this is handled on a case-by-case basis, generally following the template described below. Student evaluation reflects an individualized process that considers each person's strengths and weaknesses and offers prescriptions to remedy serious concerns, and in some cases students may receive written notice of an identified concern that must be addressed and the manner in which it is to be addressed, without being formally placed on probation.

Probation and Remediation Steps*

Being placed on probation indicates a very serious faculty concern about a student's performance. Students are placed on probation (as opposed to being terminated from the program), when in the opinion of the faculty, it is likely that the student will be able to address the difficulty that lead to the probation, if appropriate remediation is provided.  Students can be placed on probation for behavioral and/or academic reasons.  Once the faculty has determined that a serious concern about a student’s performance exists, the following steps are generally taken:

  • The Counseling Psychology Director will notify the student, in writing, that the student is on probation within the program. Additionally, the student will be requested to make an appointment with the advisor to discuss the issues involved.
  • The advisor will meet with the student and inform the student of the identified problem areas noted by the faculty.
  • The student and advisor will develop a written plan for remediation of the student's behavior. This plan will:
    • Behaviorally define the student's problem areas
    • Identify the expected behavior patterns/goals and/or academic goals
    • Specify methods that will be used to reach these goals, which may include personal counseling, self-structured behavioral change, additional academic course work or practical, additional supervision, or other remedies as appropriate
    • Specify how goal attainment and competence in the problem area will be demonstrated
    • Set a date for reevaluation of the student's progress and competence.
    • This plan will be submitted to the program faculty for review, possible modification, and approval.
    • If the plan has been modified by the program faculty, the advisor and the student will meet to review the modified plan.
    • A copy of the approved plan will be provided to the student and a copy will be retained in the student's file. Both copies of the plan will be signed and dated by the student and the advisor.
    • Near the date for reevaluation, the student will present to the advisor any available documentation of progress in the identified problem areas and completion of the remediation plan.
    • At or near the date for reevaluation, the student's progress will be reviewed by the program faculty at a regularly scheduled faculty meeting, and the faculty will make one of the following recommendations:
      • Continuation in the program: The identified concerns no longer present a significant problem and the student is no longer on probation within the program.
      • Continued probation and remediation: The student has made significant progress in addressing the identified concerns, but has not yet attained the expected degree of competence in the problem areas. An updated behavioral plan is prepared, and a date is set for another reevaluation at the program faculty's discretion.
      • Dismissal from the program: The student has failed to attain the behavioral goals and there is no expectation that he or she can reasonably attain them in the near future.
      • The Counseling Psychology Program Director will notify the student in writing of the reevaluation decision and will request that the student make an appointment with the advisor for feedback concerning the decision.
      • The student will be requested to sign and date two copies of the reevaluation decision. One copy will retained by the student and one copy will be placed in the student's file.
      • If dismissal from the program is recommended by the faculty, a written notification will be sent to the student. One copy will be provided to the student, one copy will be placed in the student's file, and one copy will be sent to the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.
      • Depending upon the reevaluation decision, the student and the advisor will meet to review the options available to the student and assist the student in educational, career, and remediation planning.
      • If dismissal from the program is recommended, the student will be given 30 days in which to
        • Prepare and present to the faculty a written response to the notification
        • Request, in writing, a faculty review of the termination recommendation, if the student chooses.
        • If the student requests such a review, the student will be invited to the next scheduled faculty meeting to present her or his case to the faculty.
        • Following the student's presentation, the program faculty will meet to render a decision as to whether the dismissal recommendation is to be upheld. Written notification of the decision will be provided to the student by the Director of Counseling Psychology.

*Adapted from the 2007 Regents of the University of Minnesota remediation policy.

Professional Issues

LPC Licensing

Students should be aware that licensing regulations are independent of the UHV Counseling Psychology degree requirements. State law dictates what criteria must be successfully met before an individual is eligible to receive a particular license. Licensing law determines what title a professional may use when presenting himself/herself to potential consumers of psychological/counseling services, and in most cases determines what type of professional activity the individual may engage in. It is the student’s responsibility to be fully aware of existing state licensing regulations. Such regulations usually dictate a) degree and curriculum requirements; b) performance criteria for demonstration of knowledge in one’s field (e.g., successful completion of a standardized examination); and c) requirements for supervision of post-degree professional activity. Students should be aware that specific license requirements may vary considerably from state to state.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has not approved the provision of a license for master’s-level practitioners in the field of Psychology.  Texas does provide a license for master’s degree-level professional counselors (known as the LPC, for Licensed Professional Counselor). Texas state law does dictate certain criteria that must be satisfied before the professional is able to gain the LPC license. All of these criteria must be satisfied prior to receiving the license:

Degree and Curriculum Requirements: The student must graduate from a master’s-level degree program that includes a curriculum that addresses the following major areas of academic training (each number indicates the content area along with the UHV course that addresses that content):

Normal Human Growth and Development (PSYC 6330-Life Span Development)

Abnormal Human Behavior (PSYC – 6321 Advanced Abnormal Psychology)

Appraisal or Assessment Techniques (PSYC 6336 – Intellectual Assessment and PSYC 6337 – Personality Assessment)

Counseling Theories (Psych 6334 Theories and Issues in Psychotherapy)

Counseling Methods or Techniques, including Counseling individuals and groups (PSYC 6335 Techniques of Psychotherapy; PSYC 6338 – Group Psychotherapy)

Research (PSYC 6326 – Advanced Research Methods)

Life Style and Career Development (PSYC 6319-Vocational Psychology and Career Counseling)

Social and Cultural Foundations (PSYC 6331-Multicultural Psychotherapy)

Family Issues (PSYC 6339- Theory and Techniques of Family Therapy)

Professional Orientation (PSYC 6333-Ethics and Practice of Psychology)

Practicum (Internship) (PSYC 6303 Counseling Psychology Practicum)

As of August 1, 2017, the following courses to meet the 60-hour requirement shall include:

Addictions Counseling (PSYC 6350 Addictions Counseling)

Professional Practices (PSYC 6352 – Professional Practices)

Psychopathology (PSYC 6322- Psychopathology II)

Crisis Counseling (PSYC 6351 – Crisis Counseling)

National Counseling Examination

Following successful completion of the master’s degree, a student must demonstrate a knowledge base of content areas by successful completion of the National Counseling Examination (NCE). In order to become an LPC, you must take the NCE and receive an adequate score to allow for participation in supervised post-graduate counseling activities. 

Post-Degree Supervision of Professional Activity:

The LPC license applicant must receive 3000 hours of supervised clinical/counseling experiences. It is the responsibility of the student to secure and obtain post-graduate supervised hours for licensure after graduation with MA from UHV. Supervision must be done by a qualified supervisor (pre-approved by the LPC board of examiners). Please go to the LPC Board Webpage for recent changes regarding supervision or any other rule changes.

Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors-New License Requirements (LPC):

  • A master's or doctoral degree in counseling or a counseling-related field from an accredited college or university
  • A planned graduate program in counseling or a counseling-related field of at least 48 graduate semester hours
  • NOTE: Board rules specifically define "counseling -related field": §681.2. Definitions (9) Counseling-related field - A mental health discipline utilizing human development, psychotherapeutic, and mental health principles including, but not limited to, psychology, psychiatry, social work, marriage and family therapy, and guidance and counseling. Non-counseling fields include, but are not limited to dance therapy, sociology, education, administration, and theology.
  • Applicants must obtain academic course work in each of the following areas: normal human growth and development; abnormal human behavior; appraisal or assessment techniques; counseling theories; counseling methods or techniques (individual and group); research; lifestyle and career development; social, cultural and family issues; and professional orientation
  • As part of the graduate program, a supervised practicum experience that is primarily counseling in nature. The practicum should be at least 300 clock-hours with at least 100 clock-hours of direct client contact. Academic credit for the practicum must appear on the applicant's transcript.
  • After completion of the graduate degree and before application, an applicant must take and pass the National Counselor Exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. After receiving a temporary LPC license from the board, the applicant may begin the supervised post-graduate counseling experience (internship). 3000 clock-hours with at least 1,500 being direct client contact of internship under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor is required. The 3000 clock-hours may not be completed in a time period of less than 18 month.
  • If reapplying for a temporary license, the applicant must submit any supervised experience gained during their previous temporary license

Other Credential Opportunities

Having a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology has a range of opportunities for additional credentials in the state of Texas.  Please see attached links for information regarding the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider (LSOTP)