Program Evaluation Results and Curriculum Changes
Executive Summary - MHC Alumni Survey
The MHC Alumni Survey was distributed to 37 graduates online via an email link to a Qualtrics survey on March 4, 2014. Follow-up reminder emails were sent on March 12 and March 18. A total of 24 responses were obtained for a response rate of 65%. Note that not every respondent answered every item, so sample sizes may vary by question. The results are consistently positive. Graduates of the program report, overall, that they are very satisfied or satisfied with the program (90% of respondents, n=18). Breaking this down further, they are very satisfied or satisfied with faculty student relations and the support they experienced in the program, the instruction provided by faculty, advisement, Chi Sigma honor society, faculty mentorship, and the counseling club. They are somewhat to very satisfied with the opportunities for research collaboration with faculty. Most alumni, 72.2 % (n=13), report they are very likely or likely to recommend Hofstra’s program in Mental Health Counseling to others.
On average, alumni rated the knowledge they gained in the program across a wide variety of course topics as either more than adequate or adequate (top two boxes). Upon graduation, alumni reported that they had obtained a wide variety of skills and abilities: On average they reported being very prepared or prepared to conduct intake evaluations and clinical interviews, develop treatment plans, write clinical case notes, provide individual and group counseling, conduct diagnostic assessments using the DSM, apply multicultural knowledge to practice, work with other mental health professionals in consultation and act in accordance with ACA (and other relevant) ethical standards.
Seventy-two percent of alumni respondents report that it took them 1-2 months to find a job in mental health counseling after graduation. Most of the remaining respondents (22.4%) found a job within a year and only 1 reported that it took more than 1 year to get a job In their current employment settings, alumni report spending about 75% of their time doing individual counseling, between 50 and 75% of their time doing intake evaluations/initial clinical interviews and diagnosis/assessment, and between 25 and 50% of their time engaging in group counseling, consultation, workshops and referrals. Alumni (83%) report being very adequately or adequately prepared for their current positions in mental health Counseling. Of the 20 respondents reporting on taking the licensing exam, 60% have taken it, and all of them passed the exam.
Executive Summary - Supervisor/Program Employer Survey
The MHC Site Supervisor Survey was distributed to 31 site supervisors and graduate employers online via an email link to a Qualtrics survey on October 16, 2014. Follow-up reminder emails were sent on October 23, October 30, and November 10. A total of 20 responses were obtained for a response rate of 64.5%. Note that not every respondent answered every item, so sample sizes may vary by question. Attitude/evaluative items were presented on 7 point likert scales (1-7) where higher numbers indicate more positive responses.
Overall, the survey results are quite positive. Supervisors/employers reported that Hofstra MHC interns and/or graduates demonstrated more than adequate to adequate self awareness/disposition in terms of strengthened sense of self, appreciation for the contribution of all individuals and cultural groups, commitment to be culturally responsive, commitment to advocacy and being a chance agent, and commitment to continued learning and professional development.
In terms of knowledge acquisition, supervisors/employers also report that Hofstra MHC
interns/graduates demonstrate adequate to somewhat adequate knowledge acquisition in counseling theory and practice; human development and behavior; socio-cultural foundations; group counseling and dynamics, ethical and legal standards of practice; and contemporary issues in counseling. Interns/graduates demonstrated somewhat adequate knowledge acquisition in testing measurement, appraisal and research, and somewhat adequate to neither adequate nor inadequate knowledge acquisition in career development theory and applications. The latter two areas represent opportunities for improvement for the program.
Supervisors/employers report that the Hofstra MHC interns/employees they have supervised generally demonstrate adequate to somewhat adequate role and skill development in the following areas: counseling processing, individual assessment, advocacy and accountability, multicultural competence, professional role development and behavior, evidence based interventions, and integration of knowledge and skills in professional practice. Interns/employees demonstrate somewhat adequate role and skill development in consultation, coordination of services and programs, and referral. Hofstra MHC interns/students demonstrate somewhat adequate to neither adequate nor inadequate role and skill development in career and educational planning, technological applications in counseling and guidance, and action research methodology. Again, the latter represent opportunities for improvement and also parallel the results for knowledge acquisition.
Hofstra MHC interns/employees are very prepared to prepared to actually perform the tasks expected of them during their internship or upon graduation, according to their supervisors/employers, such as: conduct intake evaluations/initiate clinical interviews, develop treatment plans, write clinical case notes, provide individual and group counseling, applying multicultural knowledge and concepts to counseling, perform in accordance with ethical standards, and work with other mental health professionals. Further, interns/employees spend much of their time on the job actually doing those things. They engage in individual counseling and group counseling more than 75% of the time. They also conduct workshops/psychological educations sessions, and do intake evaluations, initial clinical interviews, and diagnosis/assessment much of their time (slightly more than 50% of the time). It is clear from the reports of supervisors that interns/employees are gaining relevant clinical experience.
The majority of site supervisors have been supervising for 4 years (25%) or for more than 5 years (31.3%). Additionally, most supervisors and employers have been in the counseling/psychology/human services field for 6-10 year (43.8%) or more than 10 years (43.8%).
Overall, supervisors/employers are very satisfied with Hofstra’s M.A. Program in Mental
Health Counseling (87.5% very satisfied, 12.5% satisfied, Mean=1.13 on 7 point scale), and are very likely to recommend the program to other (75% very likely, 25% likely, Mean=1.25, on 7 point scale).
Mental Health Counseling Program Curriculum Changes
Program faculty made various changes to the mental health counseling program curriculum over the last two years. These changes were based on feedback from students through course evaluations and other informal avenues (e.g., meetings with faculty, Chi Sigma and Counseling Club question and answer forums); supervisor evaluations for internship; and results from our MHC alumni survey and supervisor/program employer survey. These changes are listed below.
COUN 253 Practicum
The Mental Health Counseling Practicum course (COUN 253) has been redesigned to allow the Mental Health Counseling (MHC) students further opportunities for the development of their counseling skills and to ensure the course meets those standards prescribed by CACREP. Prior to the changes being made to COUN 253, the primary counseling experience in this course came from the MHC students being assigned “clients” from a pool of Hofstra University students that were enrolled in an undergraduate peer counseling course required for first year Resident Assistants (RA). Currently, in addition to working with RA's, the MHC students complete their required practicum hours at the Joan and Arnold Saltzman Community Services Center, which houses a community mental health clinic here on campus. Students are assigned clients who come to the Center from the surrounding community. A number of course requirements have been added and/or modified. These requirements now include: logging 100 hours of practicum experience time throughout the semester (40 hours direct client contact hours); performing community based operations service at the Saltzman Center; performing community outreach tasks; facilitating group counseling; attending weekly small group/individual supervision; video recording counseling sessions at the Center, and a focus on counselor self-care.
COUN 298/299 Internship
To meet CACREP 2009 standards, we adjusted direct contact hours required for students; updated and strengthened clinical forms (e.g., evaluations, clinical log); and, updated Internship Guidelines and the Internship Handbook.
Knowledge and Skill Acquisition In Career Development Theory and Applications
Based on the findings from the supervisor/program employer survey and from personal communication with supervisors, specifically from sites that focus on vocational rehabilitation, knowledge and skill acquisition in career development theory and applications are areas of improvement for our students. As a result, faculty took the following initiative. We will be adding additional information in COUN 227 “Career Counseling over the Lifespan” that focuses on vocational rehabilitation assessment and evaluation for work readiness.
Inclusion of Case Documentation in the Curriculum
Based on feedback from current students, former students, and on site internship supervisors, knowledge and skill of case documentation (e.g., clinical notes, treatment planning, discharge planning) were seen as needing improvement. As such, we modified the curriculum of COUN 230 (Advanced Counseling Skills and Strategies) and COUN 262 (Treatment Planning in Mental Health Counseling) to include a strong emphasis on treatment planning, while making them both required courses rather than elective courses. We also formalized case documentation education and procedures in COUN 253 (Practicum).
Inclusion of Crisis Intervention in the Curriculum
Based on CACREP 2009 standards and a changing society that requires knowledge of crisis intervention strategies, we added the topic of crisis intervention to two courses: COUN 202 (Professional Orientation and Ethics) and COUN 230 (Advanced Skills and Strategies).
Development of New Trauma Response Course
To also meet the needs of a changing society, we created an elective course COUN 301 (Trauma Response) that is taught by an expert in trauma response counseling.
Development of New Counseling the LGBT Client Course
Based on the growing need for LGBT sensitive counselors, and in line with the standards put forth by the Association for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (AGLBTIC), we created an elective course COUN 287 (Counseling the LGBTQ Client) that is taught by an expert in counseling LGBTQ individuals.
Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC)
Based on the growing need for substance abuse counselors, and student requests for further study in this area, the faculty worked with OASAS to develop the opportunity for our students to gain the educational requirements needed to earn CASAC. This included creating an advanced substance abuse counseling course COUN 211 (Principles and Practices of Substance Abuse Counseling) that is taught by an expert in substance abuse counseling.