A proposed training program in guidance and counseling

During the last few years, more and more of the students enrolled in the Master's program in Guidance and Counseling at California State University, Northridge have been using their degree as a stepping stone to a Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling license. Since the program was originally designed to meet primarily the needs of prospective school counselors, and since the legal requirements and criteria for the M.F.C. license are currently being changed, these students are finding many of their educational needs unmet by this program. What the current program needs, then, is revision and reorganization so that it will meet the training requirements for both school counselors and M.F.C. candidates. The authors of this proposal are all prospective M.F.C. candidates who have gone through the present Guidance and Counseling Master's program and experienced its advantages and shortcomings. We have all had extensive paid and voluntary counseling experience and supervised training in the community prior to enrolling in this program. Through our involvement on the Guidance and Counseling Master's Program Planning Committee, we realize the problems facing the administration, faculty, and students. As we have gone through the current program, we have voiced and heard a number of criticisms and dissatisfactions from both students and faculty. One of the major complaints we, and other students, have is that many parts of the program seem repetitious. EDP 451, EDP 505, EDP 555, and EDP 557, as they are presently defined, seem to cover too much of the same material. Since the program was designed for school counselors, much of the curriculum seems irrelevant to the needs of prospective M.F.C. candidates. An additional problem we see is that students do not fully realize the relevancy of other parts of the program, because they are not actually experiencing the needs of a practicing counselor until the end of the program. Furthermore, many students feel alienated, alone, and sometimes lost in the program. They lack a sense of community with each other and a sense of cohesiveness within the department. They need a supportive atmosphere in which they can trust themselves to make mistakes as they learn. Many students do not get to know the faculty and experience them as grade dispensers rather than resource people. For the student, an anxiety-producing criticism of our program is that graduating students have no support or assistance in determining the marketability of their degree. Without a sense of community, they are unaware of any help they might possibly receive from the department. We heard complaints from the faculty members as well as students. Professors find that many students seem apathetic. They wait passively and take as little initiative for their learning as possible. This apparent passivity often disguises an aggressive rebelliousness which students use to avoid the responsibility for their own education. Another faculty complaint is that in the present program, they do not get to know many of the students well enough and over a long enough period of time to make educated evaluations of their counseling abilities and growth. Many students who are evaluated as unfit to become counselors are not weeded out of the program until the last semester. By then, students and faculty have made an unfair investment of time and energy. A final concern of both faculty and students is our reputation in the community is vague. (See more in text.)