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Enrollment in Psychology graduate program resumes with new cohort

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Date: Thursday, April 12, 2018
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

The Psychology Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is admitting a new cohort of 19 students in the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling Psychology (Specialization: Clinical Mental Health Counseling) in Fall 2018, following a one-year pause in new admissions to restructure the program.

The M.A. in Counseling Psychology is the only program in the UH System that trains clinical mental health counselors. The two-year, 60 semester-hour program is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC), and its curriculum meets the state of Hawai’i’s requirements for a licensed mental health counselor. Students are trained to work effectively in culturally-diverse environments by highly-skilled faculty with a broad range of expertise in various areas of psychology.

A total of 125 students have received their degrees since the program began in 2005, and another nine will graduate in May. The number of students in the program each year has fluctuated from as few as seven to as many as 19. Accessibility has also been an issue.

“We have continuously received inquiries from people living outside of Hilo who were interested in the program, but could not come to Hilo to attend the sessions,” said Dr. Bryan Kim, professor of psychology and program director. “Because the program was designed for face-to-face, in-person classes during the Fall and Spring semesters, these individuals were unable to participate.”

The program’s strategic plan was revised to utilize videoconferencing technology through the UH System’s Hawai’i Interactive Television System (HITS). Beginning in Fall 2018, the program can be accessed via distance learning facilities such as the HITS classrooms at the Hawai’i Community College Palamanui campus in Kailua-Kona and the polycom room at the North Hawai’i Education and Research Center in Honoka`a.

“We’re very excited about these changes to make the program more accessible,” Kim said. “We now hope to enroll cohorts of 15 to 20 students on a consistent basis.”

Mental Health Counseling is a growing field with employment opportunities in a variety of settings, including community health centers, schools and universities, drug, alcohol and vocational rehabilitation, child welfare and family assistance agencies, residential care facilities, employee assistance programs and private practice. Kim said recent events, such as school shootings, have only increased demand.

“The tragedies that have occurred due to mental illness have brought greater attention to the mental health needs in our community, state and nation,” Kim said. ”Our program seeks to address this growing need for professional mental health care.”

Christine Park, a licensed mental health counselor who is currently pursuing a doctorate degree, received her MA in counseling psychology from UH Hilo as part of the program’s first cohort and noted that graduates of the program are well-prepared to meet the demand for high-quality, effective mental health care.

“The faculty care about the success of students and provide a challenging and supportive learning environment that prepares emerging counselors,” Park said. “I learned foundational and advanced counseling skills, which are essential to my work in the community and have enabled me to pursue a doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision.”

The next admission cycle will begin with the priority deadline of January 1, 2019 and final deadline of February 28, 2019. For more information, visit http://counseling.uhh.hawaii.edu/.


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