Professional counseling requires many different skills. Mental health counselors and professional school counselors alike have to be trained in interpersonal communication as well as the social sciences and even neurology. Counselors who specialize in certain counseling practices like substance abuse or marriage can build even more refined skill sets. But regardless of work setting, every counselor benefits from having a knowledge base that a master’s degree in counseling can provide.
How can a Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) help counselors? By earning a graduate degree, students are exposed to all sorts of knowledge and opportunities for skill-building that can help them round out a counseling toolbox. Some of the topics counselors can expect to encounter include interpersonal abilities, communication theories and types of research and methods in psychology.
These essential concepts are explored more thoroughly in the foundational courses that make up the introductory courses of many MAC programs. Indeed, students of Bradley University’s online Master of Arts in Counseling degree will start their graduate education off with these exact topics, which are covered in “Research Methodology Applications” and “Interpersonal Behavior and Organizational Leadership.”
These classes constitute the Graduate Core Courses in Bradley’s MAC program. Here’s more information about their subject matter.
Research Methodology Applications
Research is highly important in the professional counseling field and community. Not only do some counselors specialize entirely in research, but many counselors who otherwise practice with client populations are involved with research sometime during their careers. Participating in academic research is a major way to build personal credentials and gain industry recognition. Research, at its heart, is also a vehicle for advancing methodologies, techniques and schools of thought that contribute to improvements in how counselors treat clients.
Progress achieved through research or attributed to it can have positive, real-life impacts. It’s vital then that counselors of all kinds know how to conduct research, analyze statistics, and synthesize and disseminate findings. Being able to competently conduct research is not just an advantage in professional counseling, but is sometimes expected by various employers, like the public sector.
Recognizing the significance of research to the professional counselor’s career, Bradley University placed “Research Methodology Applications” at the front of its online Master of Arts in Counseling curriculum. Throughout this Graduate Core Course, students can learn more about different types of psychological research (both quantitative and qualitative approaches) and the different types of research methods in psychology, like field interviews versus blind questionnaires. Observational techniques are worked through so students have an idea what to expect when undertaking research in the field.
Research methodologies are an important subject for counselors to be knowledgeable on, as there are a number of different approaches with various applications. Knowing which methodology to use and how to apply it is central to good research, and something every counselor should be familiar with. Defining parameters and methods for response or data collection is one thing; analyzing that information is another. That’s why “Research Methodology Applications” incorporates basic statistics into coursework. Having mathematical expertise in relation to research is important to counselors conducting studies that can be verified, validated and run without bias.
Putting all the results of research into the record is also covered in this core graduate course. Students are taught to write research proposals as well as critique publications in the areas of study. They can also draw on faculty with publishing and peer-reviewing histories.
Interpersonal Behavior and Organizational Leadership
The other half of Bradley University’s online MAC Graduate Core Courses is “Interpersonal Behavior and Organizational Leadership.” This foundational course is designed to help students build out all sorts of interpersonal abilities to better engage with and observe clients. Talking is the primary way through which counselors and clients interact, so having a broad repertoire of interpersonal communication skills ensures a counselor can draw out a resistant client, and perhaps at the same time try to manage brewing conflict in a group session.
Being able to connect with clients using a variety of tools is necessary because counselors encounter diverse populations, even within their own specialty. For example, each client in a substance abuse group discussion may present behaviors markedly different than the others; yet it’s up to the counselor to steer that conversation and help each participant express themselves and achieve therapy goals. To do that, “Interpersonal Behaviors and Organizational Leadership” presents students with extensive opportunities to practice and evaluate interpersonal communication skills like empathy, active listening, conflict mediation, conversation and more.
In addition to teaching students these core interpersonal competencies, this course helps students become familiar with organizational leadership and behaviors, as well as organizational communication theory. Some counselors are employed in corporate settings, and are often tasked with helping manage talent and identify potential leaders. In such situations, professionals can draw upon a master’s education to help fulfill key career objectives. Learning more about organizational tendencies and relationships is also important in other areas of study like school counseling, so placing this course upfront in the curriculum ensures all students come away with a knowledge base to build on.
Learn more about Bradley University
The Graduate Core Courses in Bradley University’s online Master of Arts in Counseling program take students through extensive dives into fundamental counseling concepts, and are important in forming the backbone of a graduate education. Contact an enrollment advisor today for more information about the online MAC program.