Accrediting Body Praises Counselor Training Program

The national accrediting body for professional counseling programs has cited Columbus State University as a national model for its use of cutting-edge technology in counselor training.

The assessment is part of a recent mid-cycle accreditation review by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

The councils report, citing technology as the underlying factor, lauded facilities, faculty performance and development, curriculum and external internship opportunities provided by the graduate-level school (M.Ed.) and community (M.S.) counseling programs in the College of Educations Department of Counseling, Educational Leadership and Professional Studies.

The report stated: The program faculty is to be commended for their use of technology in the instructional process. Their efforts in this area serve as a national model for cutting-edge counselor training.

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the accreditation assures that CSU meets the highest standards for professional counselor training.

Accrediting officials visited CSU last fall and identified universitys counseling labs as a state-of-the-art training facility. Ceiling video cameras in each of the labs three rooms connect to digital time-lapse recorders and monitors in a bordering hallway where students can observe their peers through two-way glass conducting simulated counseling sessions. The recordings provide for self-examination and critique as well.

The visiting officials also cited the online, peer-reviewed Journal of Technology and Counseling (http://jtc.colstate.edu) as an obvious strength of the program.

The CSU-based journal has contributors worldwide, and integrates video and graphic technology advances and allows readers a deeper understanding of the presented material, said CSU counseling professor Michael Baltimore who co-edits the journal that he created in 1998 with professor Martin Jencius, currently with Kent State University.

The review further described faculty productivity as a program strength highlighted by the high level of collaboration among the faculty (professors Baltimore, Ric Long, Walter Breaux and Lenoir Gillam) that has brought national visibility to the program.

Baltimore recently converted a classroom (Jordan 212) into a media production lab, dubbed Studio 212.

The facility supports faculty in producing video for use in classrooms, conferences, web-streaming, CD-ROM and DVD. The lab has video camcorders, wireless microphones, stage lighting, backgrounds including chromakey capability and sets designed to fit a wide range of production needs. The facility also features teleprompter capability to allow for presentation of material without referring to notes or with long pauses.

The accreditors review also cited the surrounding internship settings for CSUs community counseling majors as a major program strength. Such settings include the CSU Counseling Center, the Pastoral Institute and the Fort Benning Family Life Center.

Coordinated by Baltimore, the community counseling program prepares graduates as licensed practitioners in settings including mental health centers, community agencies, hospitals, residential treatment centers and correctional facilities.

Gillam, who coordinates the school counseling program, said the accreditors report reaffirms her programs effectiveness in preparing professionals for a uniquely-challenging role in education. Were responsible for the personal, social, academic and career development of children and adolescents usually in settings where the counselor-to-student ratio is typically wider than the 1-to-250 ratio recommended by the American School Counseling Association.

Both counseling programs include CSU graduates with degrees ranging from education to criminal justice and psychology. To further accommodate this demographic, the College of Education has established a new, upper-level course, Introduction to Professional Counseling to be offered for the first time in summer 2006 for undergraduates, as well as graduate students. Were excited to present this opportunity to students outside the program in order to give them additional insight as prospective enrollees, Gillam said.

The accreditation status for both the community (accredited since 1994) and school (accredited since 1997) counseling programs is next up for review in 2009.