Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology in Primary Care Program (MA)
A Letter from the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Thank you for considering this exciting new degree program at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Two recent actions, one from the U.S. federal government and one from the profession of medicine have coalesced to create new professional opportunities in mental health. The American Medical Association has been promoting the concept of the Patient Centered Medical Home, PCMH, for the last several years. This model promotes the idea of the primary care physician as the patient’s ongoing health provider and partner in health. A key component of this model is the integration of several health professionals, including the behavioral health specialist into primary care. This model is within the blueprint of the 2010 federal legislation, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(PPACA). In other words, the federal bill also promotes the idea of integrated, collaborative health care teams. States are exploring how to best implement the Patient Centered Medical Home. In our state, Massachusetts, for instance, the Secretary of Health has mandated a working committee to construct a model for integrating behavioral health into primary healthcare in much more involved and collaborative manner. We believe that there will be new employment opportunities for Licensed Mental Health Counselors, as well as other mental health professionals in community health centers, in HMO practices and in larger group practices in the private sector.
This new practice opportunity would mean that licensed mental health counselors would work on a collaborative team, co-interview patients with physicians and nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, do triage and consultation and offer direct mental health services. The focus is on both mental health difficulties as well as assisting patients manage their health (exercise, nutrition, smoking cessation) and cope with challenging illnesses including heart disease, cancer, neurological illnesses, asthma etc. Students in our program will also study Clinical Health Psychology in order to be prepared for this component of their work.
The Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology is a 60 credit program that takes two year full time to complete, including the summer between Years I and II. Students can also elect to pursue a three year part time program. Students will spend Year I in a 12-16 hour a week practicum learning foundational skills in mental health counseling, In Year II, their 20-24 hour a week internship will be in a placement where they can train in primary care psychology. Our graduates will be eligible to sit for the examination to become licensed mental health counselors. They can then pursue the new job opportunities in primary care and/or seek employment in other mental health fields, as they will also be well trained as generalists.
Stanley Berman, PhD
Vice President for Academic Affairs