W&M School of Education launches military counseling program

This fall, the William & Mary School of Education will enroll its first students in a new online master’s degree program focusing on military and veterans counseling.

The program, the only one of its kind in Virginia, will train counselors to work with veterans and their families on issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, the emotional impacts of physical injury, long-term family separation and the transition from military to civilian life.

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“We’re excited to have an opportunity to train competent and compassionate counselors with a special focus on military and veteran issues,” says Rip McAdams, professor and chair of the school psychology and counselor education department. “Veterans and their families have unique needs, and it’s gratifying to see those needs recognized and supported here at the School of Education and across the commonwealth.”
In early 2017, the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs asked William & Mary to create a proposal for a military counseling program designed specifically to meet the needs of veterans and their families in Virginia. The proposal was accepted, and the General Assembly included $287,500 in start-up funding for the program in the biennial budget adopted in 2018.

The new program is an optional specialization of the school’s existing CACREP-accredited Online M.Ed. in Counseling, which allows students to gain a master’s degree and work toward licensure as a professional counselor. Through this part-time program, students can continue working and complete the degree in as little as three years.

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The military and veteran specialization will require the development of three new courses: Military Life, Culture and Challenges; Assessment and Treatment of Trauma-related Disorders; and Military to Veteran Transition. In addition, three existing courses will be modified to include units on military issues.

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“All counselors can benefit from knowledge and training in military issues, so that they feel confident and prepared to help military-affiliated clients,” said McAdams. “So this has been a great chance to integrate content related to military issues into the coursework for all of our online programs.”

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