Counseling department to celebrate 50th anniversary
Fifty years after it began, Shippensburg University's counseling program continues to play an important role in providing professional counselors to organization throughout the region and beyond.
Since 1966, the first year for which records are available, the department has graduated 2,828 students.
“We are one of the oldest counseling programs
in the country," said Dr. Ford Brooks, program coordinator for the clinical mental health program. "This department over the last 50 years has trained a large number of counselors in
the Central Pennsylvania area. We have provided, and continue to
provide, education, training, and supervision for counselors throughout the
The department offers four specializations: School counseling K-12,
clinical mental health counseling, college student personnel and college counseling.
The department became accredited in
1986 and has maintained its status since.
“It’s an extensive process
, in which the Council for
Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs evaluates
counseling programs across the U.S. and other countries, granting some of them
accreditation,” Brooks said.
The council recently reviewed and re-accredited the program
for another seven years.
To keep pace with constant changes and new licensing
procedures in the field, the department has experienced many transformations in
the past five decades. In preparing for new state licensure requirements in the
early 1990s, the department added the clinical mental health program with 60 credits. “One
of the requirements for licensure in Pennsylvania is 60 graduate hours, which
we’ve incorporated into our curriculum,” Brooks said. “Both the clinical mental
health and school programs require 60 graduate hours for the completion of the
degree. At the same time, it meets the academic requirement for licensure.”
The department also offers a post-master’s program with four
courses in family counseling. This provides additional coursework for those who
might not have a 60-hour program and need the added 12 hours for licensure.
Working students also are discovering that the Shippensburg
program offers the flexibility they need. “We’ve had two cohorts at the Dixon Center (in Harrisburg) on weekends to
accommodate full-time working counselors,” Brooks said.
The program is also expanding its reach. Five years ago, Growing Edges Community Clinic opened in the counseling department's wing
in Shippen Hall. The clinic provides free counseling for children and adults in
the community who are deemed appropriate for services. “We also started
offering an immersion experience last year in Jamaica, and it continued this
year,” Brooks said. “Last year, faculty and students went to Jamaican schools
to share and discuss counseling issues. This year, we addressed the topic of
Every faculty member in the counseling and college student
personnel program has been a practitioner in their respective area. “It brings
actual experience to the academic realm; ideal vs. reality,” Brooks said.
The department’s milestone will be celebrated with two
events April 13. The Shirley Hess Hike for Healing begins at 10 a.m. at the
hockey rink pavilion and will continue on the rails to trails. Hess was a long-time
member of the department’s faculty before her death in March 2012.
That will be followed at 5 p.m. by a reception in the
Conference Center at Shippensburg University and then a 6 p.m. program to
highlight the anniversary. More information on the April anniversary
celebration is available online at http://www.ship.edu/Counseling_50th.