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WVU Counseling students excel in national exam outcomes

Allison Lampinen is among a remarkable cohort of College of Applied Human Sciences students who successfully passed the National Counseling Exam utilized by the state of West Virginia as the qualifying testing for professional licensure as a counselor.

“I can never thank the WVU Counseling program enough for what it has given me. I was able to pass the NCE the first time and was hired at the school I have been wanting to work for since the beginning,” Lapinen said. “I know these accomplishments are direct results from attending a CACREP program where the professors are passionate about what they do and truly want you to be successful.”

“Because our program is Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredited, our students are eligible to sit for the exam in their final semester of coursework,” Christine J. Schimmel, CAHS associate professor, said. “For a student to pass this exam early in their counselor preparation is significant. This is a critical step for young professional counselors toward getting their license.”

“Our students typically perform exceptionally well, however, this is the first time in a while that I have seen a 100 percent pass rate across all students who took the exam. On average, we have one or two students who need to re-test. So, when I saw that all had passed, I was pleased.”

The master’s program in counseling provides a comprehensive, planned program of study for entry into the counseling profession. The on-campus program has been designated as a "Program of Excellence" by the West Virginia Board of Trustees and features five faculty, all of whom have a wealth of practical counseling experience and advanced counseling degrees and certifications. The WVU on-campus counseling program has housed professionally trained and graduated counselors for more than 50 years.

Schimmel says that one of the major strengths of WVU’s on campus counseling program is that students in the cohort bond with each other. “Faculty believe the interactions before and after class with fellow students are as important as the course work itself,” she said. “Throughout the year, students benefit from gatherings with peers, faculty and staff and are encouraged to take advantage these activities.”

With her degree in hand, Lampinen says that many pathways have opened up for her. “I accepted a school counseling position in Marion County (WV) shortly after graduating. I plan on moving forward in becoming a licensed professional counselor,” she said. “I am interested in obtaining my certification in educational leadership, allowing me to move in the public school systems as a principal or superintendent. No matter where the path may lead, my goal is to continue to expand my knowledge within the field and be able to give back to people who have similar journeys along the way.”

Students work on group projects and engage in experiential learning in every class. Classes are built with the idea that counseling is a skill that needs developed. Therefore, the practicing of skills and the relationships built with peers in the classroom are a central part of the program. The WVU on campus program has a strong focus on student personal growth and mental health. Students are encouraged to apply learning to their own growth and development.

Lapinen says she has established lifelong friends and allies through the program. “From my professors, supervisors, coworkers, and classmates, I can confidently say I have a supportive team moving forward in my career,” she added.

WVU’s counseling program offers three specializations: school counseling (on-campus), clinical mental health (on-campus), and clinical mental health with an emphasis in rehabilitation counseling (on-line).

Overall, counselors support people with personal, family, educational, mental health and career decisions and struggles. Their duties depend on the individuals they serve and on the settings in which they work.

Professional School counselors support students in their academic, career and social-emotional development. They may run career information centers and career education programs. They design, manage, deliver and assess comprehensive school counseling programs that serve all students in culturally sustaining ways.

Clinical mental health/rehabilitation counselors work with individuals, families and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders, and to promote optimum mental health.

High school counselors often advise on college admission requirements, entrance exams and financial aid and vocational fields. They help students understand and deal with their social, behavioral and personal problems. Counselors provide consultation and collaborate with school community members.

Mental health counselors often work closely with other mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses and school counselors.

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