This course is designed to introduce students to theories of abnormal personality development and dysfunction in human behavior, including addictions and addictive behaviors. Students will explore the biological, neurological, physiological, systemic, and environmental factors influencing human development, functioning and behavior, including crises, disasters, and trauma. Students will learn basic principles for understanding dysfunction and social disorganization. Students will also begin the process of identifying ethical and culturally relevant strategies for assessments to diagnose developmental, behavioral, and mental disorders. The course also covers mental health service modalities within the continuum of care, such as inpatient, outpatient, partial treatment, and aftercare and the mental health counseling services networks.

This course is designed to familiarize students with the legal and ethical considerations specific to clinical mental health counseling, behavioral standards of professional counseling organizations and professional credentialing bodies. Students will learn basic records management and record-keeping, third party reimbursement and other practice and management issues relevant to clinical mental health counseling, including an overview of business/family law and professional practice, strategies for interfacing with the legal system regarding court-referred clients, legislation and government policy relevant to clinical mental health counseling, as well as current LPC board rules. In addition, students will gain an understanding of the multiple roles, relationships, and responsibilities of professional counselors including knowledge of advocacy processes, professional organizations, preparation standards, and credentials relevant to practice of clinical mental health counseling, including technology’s impact on counseling, and strategies for personal and professional self-evaluation for ethical practice. A history of ethics in the profession of counseling, multicultural competencies, issues of power and privilege, spiritual beliefs, and help-seeking behaviors of diverse clients, and ethical and culturally relevant strategies for counseling and assessment will also be explored.

Students enroll in the Counseling Practicum course during the semesters in which they undertake a practicum at a site approved in advance by the instructor of the course and the Center administration. Students should expect to spend between 10-20 hours per week (minimum of 100 hours by the end of the semester) at their approved practicum site in client sessions (minimum of 40 hours) and administrative work (minimum of 60 hours). Early consultation with the instructor regarding practicum placement—at least several months before the start of the course—is strongly advised. Though the Counseling Practicum instructor and the Center office can provide student a list of possible sites, students are ultimately responsible for interviewing at and securing their own practicum placement. In weekly class meetings, students will receive instruction, supervision, and feedback in counseling methods and techniques. The instructor will assist students in learning how to correctly document the practicum hours for the State of Texas and with paperwork required by the placement site. Students will be evaluated by their site supervisors; meeting the standards reflected in these evaluations satisfactorily is required to pass the course. All requirements of this course must be met satisfactorily prior to registering for Internship I or II.