Counselor Education Department
Dr. Gail Mears was recently appointed as the chair of the graduate counselor education department. We asked Gail to share with the graduate community an overview of her background, professional areas of interest, and experience at PSU.
As a licensed clinical mental health counselor with over 30 years of experience in mental health counseling, I have worked in community mental health, family services, private practice, and university settings. Currently, I work part time at the PSU Counseling and Human Relations Center and have been teaching in the counselor education program since 1996. My research interests have centered on clinical supervision.
Gary Goodnough had served as the coordinator for counselor education and school psychology programs for the past 13 years; I was delighted to be appointed as the new department chair.
My involvement with professional organizations includes having served as president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the New Hampshire Mental Health Counselors Association, and the Northern New England Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. Currently, I am the president-elect of the North Atlantic Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and also serve as the mental health representative to the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice. Recently, I was honored with the Dr. Pete Harris Community Service Award for promoting increased awareness, sensitivity, understanding, and acceptance of mental health issues in the Lakes Region through educating the public.
The counselor education department offers unique concentrations and certificate programs. Could you talk about how the program concentrations and certificates are meeting the needs of educators and counselors?
The MEd in Counselor Education and CAGS in Educational Leadership offers concentrations in mental health counseling, school counseling, school psychology, and a self-designed option. PSU’s school counseling and mental health counseling master’s programs are currently the only CACREP-accredited programs in New Hampshire. CACREP accreditation ensures that students’ educational experiences reflect the current training standards within the profession.
Certificate and professional certification programs are designed to meet needs of human services and counseling professionals. The Play Therapy certificate prepares students to become registered play therapists under the Association of Play Therapy. The Conflict in Families certificate, which began as a collaborative effort between PSU and New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families, is designed for professionals who work with children and families at risk in various human services organizations.
Students can also pursue interests through the Eating Disorders Institute, Personal Approaches to Transformation and Healing (PATH) Institute, and the Organizational Approaches to Transformation and Healing (OATH) certificate.
There is a new International Cohort Model for students interested in the school counseling and school psychology programs? What sparked an interest in creating the international cohort?
The International Cohort, which was recently endorsed by CACREP, reflects the College of Graduate Studies’ commitment to globalization. We recognized the need for a program that would prepare prospective counselors working in international forums with training in school counseling and school psychology. The program schedule allows for students to take courses on campus during the summer, online during the remainder of the year, and complete a field experience in their country of residence.
Are there any research projects or initiatives that you, or students, are currently involved with that you would like to share with the graduate community?
As faculty, we invite our students to collaborate with us on research projects and actively participate at professional conferences. Recently, Pam Wells (mental health counseling option) received a scholarship to present a poster session on teaching advocacy skills to counselors in training at the North Atlantic Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s bi-annual conference. The counselor education department’s graduate assistant, Rebecca Marshall (mental health counseling option) recently published “On Self-Care: Making Graduate School Rewarding Now!” in Advocate (October 2008), the American Mental Health Counselors Association newspaper. Melissa McEvoy (school counseling concentration) participated in the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s first Social Justice Summit in Ohio.
Currently our counseling practicum students provide services at the Pemi Youth Center, Pemi Bridge House, Belknap County Prison, and schools and mental health centers throughout the region.