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 frequently.   PLEASE NOTE:  This handbook applies to students who are beginning their education in Counseling Psychology in the FALL 2019 semester. Students admitted before that time should consult the handbook for their year of admission for policies and practices that may have changed.  Changes take 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

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 settings.  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.

Please note that the curriculum of this program has changed in recent years.  Previously, the program included 48 credit hours.  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 earlier, your program was 48 hours long.  Please be aware of your degree plan requirements.  You are responsible for knowing the requirements of your program. 

Advisement and Orientation

Your Counseling Psychology Program Faculty Advisor recommends and approves your degree plan, monitors your progress, approves course selection, and recommends students for graduation.  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.

Please sign and return your degree plan promptly when it is provided to you by the office of the School of Arts & Sciences.

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 notify their faculty advisor as soon as possible.

For further information regarding faculty advising, please contact Dr. Catherine Perz at PerzC@uhv.edu.  For questions regarding academic advisement, degree plans, registration, graduation, or other UHV matters, please contact your Arts & Sciences Academic Advisor.  At the time of writing, this is Mrs. Jennifer Reeder, who may be contacted at ReederJ@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, and many have previous courses as prerequisites.  If you plan to attend on a part-time basis, then you should carefully look at the UHV catalog to determine which courses have prerequisites, and what those prerequisites 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

The Counseling Psychology Comprehensive examination ("Comps") is offered during the Fall and Spring Semesters.  Full-time Counseling Psychology students should plan to take Comps during the Spring semester of their second year, and after they have completed all courses covered by the Comprehensive exam.  Students with a minimum of 24 credit hours are eligible to take the exam.  The faculty member overseeing the Comprehensive Exam will contact students via their UHV email when they are eligible for the exam.  The exam will be taken as a proctored online exam in a proctored location at UHV in Victoria.

The Counseling Psychology Comprehensive exam has 200 items, 20 selected from each of the ten core classes.  Exam items are randomly selected from a pool of items and then randomly ordered for each student.  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.  A score of 139 items correct (equivalent to 69.5%) does not meet the minimum score necessary to pass the comprehensive exam, and is considered a failing score.

A student who fails the exam twice must contact their faculty advisor to develop a plan for 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 include the requirement that the student retake one or more courses.

Students in the Counseling Psychology M.A. program who enter the program in Fall, 2019 and after must pass the Comprehensive exam on or before their third attempt at taking the exam. Failure to pass the comprehensive exam after three tries will result in dismissal from the program.

Expect to take Comps only after you have completed the courses covered by the Counseling Psychology Comprehensive Exam, which 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

After the completion of approximately 20-24 credit hours in specific courses (typically the Summer semester in Year 1 of the program), 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 criterion or 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.  Additionally, you should talk with the program director in your current and intended programs before doing so. 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 alumna/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.

Review of Student Progress

Given the high degree of ethical and professional behavior and competency required of future Counseling Psychology practitioners, the Counseling Psychology Program requires satisfactory performance and progress throughout the program. Our goal is to help you develop into a skilled and ethical Counseling Psychology professional. We regularly review student progress, and seek to identify students who are in need of and suitable for remediation for relevant issues, such as maintaining expected standards of academic performance, appropriate personal attributes and/or ethical behavior, as well as the acquisition of the appropriate clinical and professional skills.

Academic Standards for Counseling Psychology Graduate Students

Counseling Psychology students are expected to maintain adequate progress in their program of study.  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 UHV, 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 with grades of C 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.

In the event a student’s semester or cumulative GPA is lower than 3.0, the student will be notified that he or she is placed on academic probation for the semester.  The student will be required to meet with their faculty advisor to create 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.

Appropriate Personal Attributes for the Graduate Psychology Programs

Responsibility

  • Shows a pattern of reliable attendance in classes and at practicum/internship obligations.
  • Shows a pattern of completing class projects and other program requirements on time.
  • Shows a pattern of a good effort when working on university tasks.
  • Shows a pattern of accepting responsibility for mistakes.

Respect

  • Shows a pattern of respect for others and sensitivity to others.
  • Interacts in all situations (in person, via telephone or via email) with peers, supervisors and program faculty in a respectful and professional manner.
  • Does not engage in a pattern of offensive practices.
  • Does not act in a hostile manner- name calling, intimidation, abusive or threatening behavior, sexual harassment, attempts to humiliate or ridicule others, repeated expression of racist, sexist or other prejudicial attitudes.

Personal Problems

  • Shows sufficient insight and judgment to know the limits of ability to avoid harming clients or potential clients.
  • Is not a danger to self or others.
  • Is not too distressed to be effective in the skills required for Counseling, School, and Forensic psychology, counseling, or testing.
  • Is able to conform to the demands of the tasks involved in the program's education.
  • Exhibits no impairments that may lead to inability to conform including substance abuse, delusions, and poor reality testing, among other possible conditions.

Integrity

  • Shows a pattern of integrity and honesty.
  • Does not show a pattern of deception and/or lying.
  • Does not cheat or engage in plagiarism.

Self-Presentation and Professional Demeanor

  • Shows a pattern of good personal hygiene and grooming, as well as site-appropriate professional attire.
  • Shows ability and potential to develop appropriate professional etiquette.

Ethical Behavior and Academic Honesty

Due to the necessarily high degree of morality and ethical conduct of the psychology profession, unethical behavior and academic dishonesty of any form, such as plagiarism or cheating, will not be tolerated and is considered unacceptable behavior for graduate students in Psychology. Any student engaging in unethical behavior and/or in direct violation of UHV’s Academic Dishonesty policy, as noted in the UHV Student Handbook, will be subject to reasonable and appropriate sanctions as outlined by University policies.

Behavioral Probation

 Students' academic and professional development is of the utmost concern in the psychology graduate programs, as is the welfare of both students and the public.  Usually, concerns about student behavior or conduct issues can be resolved constructively between the student, an instructor, or advisor.  However, in cases where behavioral issues are persistent or are of a nature which interfere with student development or put others' development or welfare in jeopardy, a more formal probationary process may become necessary.  The goal of behavioral probation is to create a more formal structure to assist the student's academic and professional development while ensuring the safety of all concerned: the student, colleagues, and members of the public.

 In this case, the following process should occur: 

  1. The student will be invited to a meeting with the program director and members of the graduate faculty in writing, including the purpose of the meeting and specific incidents which triggered the need for the meeting. For instance, a student might be sent a request to meet with graduate faculty after a practicum site supervisor stated that they were engaging in the following unprofessional conduct: cursing in front of clients, wearing inappropriate attire, and failing to attend mandatory meetings with their supervisor
  2. The student will be informed that information gathered in the meeting could possibly result in sanctions for the student, including being placed on behavioral probation. The probation would involve remediation work designed to assist the student in the areas of concern found to be valid by the committee.  The student will be informed that, once the findings are assessed, the Committee may instead decide that no sanctions are warranted. 
  3. After the meeting with the student, if a sanction is warranted, including behavioral probation, the student will be informed in writing of the sanction and the remediation.  The student has the right to appeal the findings to the Chair of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  If the student meets with the Chair and is dissatisfied with the outcome, the student may appeal to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.  

Professional Issues

Post-graduate Licensing

Students should be aware that licensing regulations are independent of the UHV Counseling Psychology degree requirements. State law dictates which 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. 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.  Texas offers a credential for master's-level psychology graduates, the Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA), which will permit independent practice.   Texas also offers a license for master’s degree-level professional counselors (known as the LPC, for Licensed Professional Counselor). Texas state law dictates certain criteria that must be satisfied before the professional is able to gain the LPA or LPC credentials.

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

Current requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential, as put forth by the Texas Board of Examiners of Counselors:

  • "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."

Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists Licensed Psychological Associates Requirements (LPA)

Current requirements for the Licensed Psychological Associate as put forth by the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists (TSBEP):

"Licensed Psychological Associate

The requirements for licensure as a psychological associate are set forth in Board rule 463.8.

Requires a graduate degree in psychology, consisting of at least sixty (60) semester credit hours, with no more than twelve (12) hours of practicum, internship, or structured experience counted toward the total degree hour requirement.

-A graduate degree that does not contain the term “psychology” in the name of the major or program of studies, but is primarily psychological in nature, will be accepted for licensure purposes through August 31, 2021, so long as the applicant began his or her graduate program leading to the degree before August 31, 2019.   See Board rule 463.8(g)(1).

-A graduate degree consisting of 42 semester credit hours, with at least 27 hours in psychology will be accepted for licensure purposes through August 31, 2021, so long as the applicant began his or her graduate program leading to the degree before August 31, 2019.  See Board rule 463.8(g)(2).

Requires passage of the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

Requires passage of the Jurisprudence Examination.

Requires six (6) semester credit hours of practicum, internship, or other structured experience within the graduate degree program, while under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.

The following are requirements for independent practice authority for licensed psychological associates:

A minimum of 3,000 hours of post-graduate degree supervised experience obtained within 24-48 consecutive months, and in not more than three placements"

More information can be found on the websites of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. "

Please note that you are responsible for knowing and following the requirements of your desired professional credential.

Conclusion

While this handbook, the general handbook, and the practicum handbook are aimed at providing you all the basic information you need to succeed in the program, you may still have questions.  Please feel free to ask your Program Director, Faculty Advisor, and Arts & Sciences Advisor when you do have questions.  We are all here to help.  

We may also have necessary information for you from time to time, and will provide that information to you through your UHV email account.  We will assume that you will receive that information in a timely way by checking your UHV email frequently.

Again, welcome to the UHV Counseling Psychology Master's program. We are glad you have joined us, and look forward to working with you on your development into a Counseling Psychology professional.