Programs preparing Mental Health Counselors

Are you inspired to positively influence the  well-being of children and adults? Then you should consider becoming a licensed mental health counselor.
As societal pressures increase, and the complexities, stresses, and expectations of everyday life impact success at school, on the job, in relationships with family and friends – and take their toll on our overall well-being – the need for mental health counseling services has increased dramatically. 

These diverse mental health needs require the mental health counselor of the 21st century to be a dynamic professional.  One who has a keen understanding of societal impacts and is well-prepared to design holistic interventions to support those who are struggling, as well as those who are looking to optimize wellness and the relationship between the health of the body and the health of the mind.

Our Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs-accredited program in mental health counseling will successfully prepare you to become an effective mental health counselor – a counseling professional who can help to greatly improve the quality of life of the clients you serve.
A Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs-accredited program

Program Quickview

The program described below prepares students as Licensed Mental Health Counselors.

If you are interested in other counseling or human development programs, check our related programs.
Information about New York State Licensure for Mental Health Counselors
Licensure as a mental health counselor is required in New York State to provide a range of psychological services in community, health, and social service agencies and in private practice.  Licensure status may allow clients to use health insurance for services offered by the licensed mental health counselor.

Our 60-credit master's program in community mental health counseling is the first step leading to becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Students who complete the program, which includes rigorous didactic coursework and 600 hours of field-based internship experience, are eligible for a New York State Limited Permit to practice as a mental health counselor in New York State defined settings. They are further required post-degree to complete 3,000 additional hours of supervised practice and pass a state examination to become a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor.
  • A bachelor’s degree preferably in an area related to mental health counseling (e.g., psychology, human development, education, sociology, brain and cognitive science).
  • Preference is given to applicants with a grade point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale.
  • A general understanding of the nature of mental health counseling practice.
  • A demonstrated interest, based on previous volunteer or paid experience, of work related to helping professions.
  • Interests and dispositions consistent with successful practice providing psychological services in a mental health setting.
  • Applicants must display dispositions of health and fitness that will foster healing, growth and change in their clients, such as:
    • Capacity for sound clinical and interpersonal judgment.
    • Ability to deal with critique and conflict in a healthy and productive manner.
    • Reliable completion, even under conditions of stress and emotional challenge, of expected clinical and academic responsibilities.
    • Respect for diversity of beliefs, practices, appearances and orientations, and a commitment to, and capacity for self-reflection regarding diversity issues.
    • Ability, even in times of extreme stress, to convey empathy and compassion.
    • Display of sound moral and ethical judgment.
Key Program Features:
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs: Our 60-credit program meets all requirements set by the world-recognized accrediting body for the field of counseling.
  • Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Courses and internships underscore the importance of intervention, wellness, integrated care, advocacy, and diversity in counseling, in order to successfully prepare mental health counselors for practice in the 21st century.
  • Flexible: Program can be started in any semester and completed in just two-years of full-time study, if starting in fall, or three to four years of part-time study.
  • Rich Internship Opportunities: The required practicum plus two internships can be pursued across a wide array of settings, including community-based mental health clinics, hospitals, community agencies, drug and alcohol treatment centers, and institutions of higher education, treating diverse client populations including children, adolescents, adults, and seniors.
  • Substance Use Counseling Specialization: Each graduate of the Mental Health Counseling program is eligible to earn a CASAC-Trainee credential; this is the first step toward earning the premiere substance use counseling credential in New York, CASAC, with varying options for reciprocity between states.
  • For School Counselors Only:  We invite you to check out our 24-credit “bridge” program option to give you maximum flexibility for practice contexts.  

Preparing Mental Health Counselors

The following program will prepare individuals as entry-level mental health counselors leading to New York State licensure eligibility in mental health counseling.   

MS in Community Mental Health Counseling (CM1)

Opportunities for additional specializations:
two people talking at a table
Special Bridge Program for School Counseling
If you have already completed a master’s degree leading to New York State certification as a school counselor, the Warner School of Education and Human Development offers an expedited way for you to meet the coursework and internships required for licensure as a mental health counselor.  This 24-credit Advanced Certificate Bridge from School to Mental Health Counseling (CB2) program requires only six mental health counseling courses and two internships.
elderly hand holding a younger one

Our Approach

Facilitating healthy human development and fostering better lives

The Warner School’s mental health counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to work effectively as counselors offering services to people challenged by emotional, behavioral and relationship issues. Well-grounded in counseling theory, research and practice, our program prepares qualified, license-eligible mental health counselors for practice in a variety of diverse clinical or community settings.
three generations of women
Learn More About Warner's Approach to Mental Health Counseling
Our mental health counseling program pursues a vision that emphasizes wellness, prevention and the relationship between the health of the body and the health of the mind. The program shapes students as mental health counselors who will act as facilitators of healthy human development, practicing holistic approaches that consider the range of social, cultural, familial and intrapersonal factors that influence mental health. Counseling students are grounded in knowledge of human development, with particular emphasis and understanding of how environmental and societal factors shape the developmental processes that lead to life-long wellness or distress.

Coursework and clinical training prepare students to provide a range of services — including assessment, treatment planning, psychotherapy, alcoholism and substance abuse intervention, psycho-educational and prevention programs and crisis management — to families, couples, adolescents, children and groups. Our integrative approach grounds students in the research theory and practice of mental health counseling. Throughout the program, there is a strong emphasis on research aimed at the study of human development, health and change in real-world contexts. A diverse array of instructional methods is utilized in our counseling classrooms including: lectures, videos, discussions and in-class and outside-class experiential activities.

The Warner Advantage

Preparing mental health counseling graduates to thrive

The Warner School will give you the preparation needed to succeed as an effective and mental health counselor.
  • Be challenged to become an innovator, a thought leader, and an agent of personal change by learning the necessary dispositions and skills to be an effective mental health counselor.
  • Learn to leverage your personal strengths to help create a bright future for your clients.
  • Understand how to serve complex and diverse populations.
  • Leverage the reputation of a leading research university to give your degree even more recognition.
  • Learn from an accessible, supportive faculty of researchers and accomplished practitioners.
  • Experience the rewards and challenges of real-life practice experiences while working in mental health settings with seasoned, gifted professionals.
  • Network with the best and the brightest future mental health counselors.
  • Shorten your path to a doctoral degree by earning transferable credits.
  • Be confident in a nationally-accredited program vetted by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.
While rigorous, our mental health counseling program is also flexible and affordable.
  • Benefit from scholarships that can significantly reduce tuition costs.
  • Start the program in any semester.
  • Go at your own pace, by choosing either part-time or full-time options.
  • Are you a University of Rochester employee? Make sure you make full use of your tuition benefits.

All about experience

Your experience at the Warner School will be informed by the many research projects and community initiatives we are engaged in. In addition, you'll benefit from the experience of faculty that include nationally recognized researchers, award-winning authors and accomplished practitioners.

Where Creativity Meets  Counseling

Where creativity meets counseling

Leveraging her background in dance, Mental Health Clinical Coordinator Karen Mackie has become a leading voice in creativity in counseling. Dr. Mackie advocates for the use of expressive arts in the counseling process, including art, music, psychodrama, writing and poetry.

Constructive Counseling Supervision

Constructive counseling supervision

Our students benefit from cutting-edge research-grounded supervising practices. In fact, Warner Professor Doug Guiffrida’s 2015 book on Constructive Clinical Supervision in Counseling and Psychotherapy has been recognized with a national award.

Expert in Crisis Management

Experts in crisis management

Program advisors bring first-hand experience to Warner’s mental health counseling program.

Career Opportunities

Advancing your career to the next level

The need for mental health counselors is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations nationwide through the year 2022, due in part to the fact that health insurance plans have started providing coverage to mental health counseling services. In the Finger Lakes, that translates to an expected 35-percent increase in job openings between 2010 and 2020, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Today, the country faces a shortage of mental health professionals while the demand for mental health services has never been higher. In fact, 15 of the nation’s 50 states – including California, Connecticut, Florida, and 12 others – are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals, as defined by the federal government. This means millions of Americans will continue to struggle with mental health issues as a result of the lack of licensed clinical mental health counselors.

Graduates of the Warner School mental health counseling program will have the preparation and credentials needed to succeed in an array of roles and careers in the mental health field. Graduates can pursue practice opportunities across a wide array of settings, including community-based mental health clinics, hospitals, private practice, human services agencies, drug and alcohol treatment centers and institutions of higher education, treating diverse client populations including children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

International students have found the Warner School's program in community mental health counseling beneficial in helping them introduce mental health counseling to international communities, where mental health services are in a formative stage.
counselor talking with woman in office


Accessible, supportive faculty researchers and accomplished practitioners


Making your graduate education experience affordable

Many of our mental health counseling students benefit from merit-based scholarships that significantly decrease tuition costs.

Contact admissions for more information about merit-based scholarships.

Are You a UR Employee? Inquire about your tuition benefits. If eligible, up to 95% of your tuition costs can be covered depending on your position. Contact the UR benefits office at

Vasquez in class at table with studnets

Try Us Out

A Warner School degree opens doors; open ours to see why

Do you want to have a taste of what the Warner School can offer, before committing to one of our programs?

We invite you to come and observe one of our counseling courses. Or even better, take one of the required counseling courses for a highly discounted price

Contact admissions to arrange for a visit or learn more about opportunities for students who aren't enrolled in a program.


Meliora means 'Ever Better.' To our graduates, it means making a world of difference.

  • Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

    “It was more than I expected. Not only what I learned in the program, which I’ve been able to put into practice every day since, but also the connections I was able to make and the relationships I was able to form."

    Beatriz M. Folch-Torres, MD, Rochester, NY

  • Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

    "The growth I’ve realized in myself is something I will be forever grateful for. I’ve learned to question, analyze, think and create in ways I never considered. I’ve changed as an educator and as a person."

    Laura Van Laeken, Teacher, Midlakes, NY

  • Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

    “When it came time to interview for jobs, it was very easy for me to talk about anything in the field, and that set me apart,” he says. “You name it, and I had at least one experience in it—largely due to Warner.”

    Jeremy Friedman, Research Associate, Harlem Children's Zone, New York, NY

  • Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

    “As educators, it’s our job to make sure we’re giving students the knowledge to be successful when they move on in their life….Warner was the best grad school experience I’ve ever had because it prepared me extremely well to jump into my career, and I will forever be grateful for that.”

    Jody Goodman, Program Director, UMass Amherst

  • Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

    "The most important thing I received there was the opportunity to be immersed in the study of education and leadership with very talented people, that think-tank mentality of being surrounded by the best of the best. The intellectual stimulation from both the staff and fellow classmates really did allow me to think about things differently."

    Dawn Santiago-Marullo, Superintendent, Victor, NY

  • Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

    “I had a very unique situation. I wasn’t going down the typical path of a Warner student, and the school was just so flexible and supportive.”

    Shannon Walton, Sports Performance Counselor, Rochester, NY

Contact Admissions

The admissions team looks forward to assisting you as you explore graduate education at the Warner School. Please feel free to use the form below to contact us with any questions. You can also email us at or call (585) 275-3950.

Application Deadlines

The next application deadline is March 01, 2022. View all  Admissions Deadlines.

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