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Degree Type: MA

The Master of Arts degree in Counseling delivered on-ground and online, is dedicated to the cutting edge preparation of tomorrow’s clinical mental health counselors nationwide. We are proud of our degree program which stands on several pillars of excellence:

  • The Family Institute at Northwestern University –  The Family Institute (TFI) is a highly-regarded organization with a  long tradition of integrating mental health service delivery,  education, and research. TFI's clients include children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.  In TFI's approach,  students are trained to understand the mental health and wellness needs and challenges of people from all walks of life.  Then students are encouraged to apply knowledge and skills in practice with real clients in TFI's onsite clinic or in clinical centers around the country.  Students work under the supervision of seasoned practitioners, many of whom are leaders in professional counseling and psychotherapy.  TFI sets a  high standard in integrating mental health practice and scholarship, which helps our students to value the same qualities in their professional lives.
  • The Counseling Profession – Grounded in the historical, theoretical, and intellectual traditions of the Counseling field, our students are prepared to protect the mental health and wellness of those who use counseling services.  Our program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) which is a solid foundation for independent practice licensure in most states. In the best traditions of the Counseling field, our coursework emphasizes ethics, multiculturalism,  lifespan development, diversity, equity and inclusion, advocacy/outreach, and evidenced-based practice. These powerful traditions are connected to our students' development of strong professional counselor identities which prepares them to address the mental health service gaps in vulnerable groups and communities. 
  • The Program’s Historical Foundations – Our Master's degree program grew out of a doctoral program and the intensity of advanced education is embedded in our education.   Still present is the historical legacy of psychodynamic thought and an emphasis on the centrality of a strong therapeutic alliance driven by therapist self-reflection.  Students are trained to be reflective practitioner-scholars and to offer ideas about improving mental health services.  Students are also mentored to expand and improve the scholarly base of our profession with new and innovative ideas.  Our students' ideas about mental health and wellness culminate in the Capstone Project that is required to earn our degree. Students present  Capstone projects in a conference-style setting, in the final quarter of studies. We encourage students to maintain an emphasis on scholarship throughout their careers and the Capstone symbolizes this trajectory. 

Our Program's Vision

We are leaders in preparing culturally-responsive, psycho-dynamically-informed, Clinical Mental Health Counselors to promote and advocate for the mental health and wellness of people.

Our Program's Mission 

Our mission is to deliver innovative, clinical mental health counselor training that is grounded in contemporary psychodynamic theory, best practices from multiple perspectives, and a multicultural worldview, preparing students to become competent counselors, mental health advocates, and leaders nationwide.

Program Objectives 

On completion of our degree students will:

  1. Possess an in-depth understanding of Clinical Mental Health Counseling 
  2. Understand strategies to integrate psychodynamic thought and emerging best practices into clinical work
  3. Demonstrate self-reflective, counseling skills honed through extensive and closely supervised clinical work
  4. Demonstrate rich multicultural awareness that embraces and advances diversity, equity, and social justice values
  5. Embody a professional counselor's identity
  6. Showcase a scientific mindset, interest in scholarship,  and profession-centered activities.

The Essence of Our Vision, Mission, and Objectives

Our educational approach has the capacity to accelerate a capacity for cognitive complexity in clinical judgments. The psychodynamic values of the program encourage students to explore the forces outside of awareness,  often rooted in the past,  that can exert profound influences on identity, values, and experiences. We encourage students to attend to the ways in which the past—their own and their clients’—is woven into the present. Through intentional consideration of the past, students can more fully empathize with their clients’ experiences and better help them to live freely and intentionally in the present.  The goal is to liberate the shackles of the past for a more enriching, authentic life in the present.  To amplify the psychodynamic lens our program emphasizes two core experiences: Reflective practice and comprehensive immersion in multiculturally- competent clinical work.

Emphasis on Reflective Practice

We offer students opportunities to reflect on their training experiences in a supportive environment. In this context,  students explore their personal and professional strengths, examine struggles and barriers to learning, and identify strategies for navigating the training process.  Three powerful experiences are the building blocks of reflective-practice training.

  • Reflective Practitioner Supervision (RPS)- During the Practicum experience, students meet weekly in small groups with a seasoned practitioner for RPS.  We emphasize a need to understand client transference and therapist countertransference, identify biases that affect therapeutic objectivity, and remove personal barriers to staying fully present with clients.  Students are encouraged to become highly aware of their own social and cultural identities, power, and privilege, to pave the way for cross-culturally proficient work with clients.
  • Group Dynamics Immersion– During Practicum students participate in the Group Dynamics Immersion (GDI),  a three-day group experience guided by teams of seasoned practitioners.  The GDI  is a living laboratory in which students examine their personal, cultural, and social identities, intra-and interpersonal styles, and dynamics that play out in groups and institutions.   The GDI is an aspect of the group dynamics coursework that creates powerful experiential learning that reverberates in other program experiences.  Students are encouraged to apply knowledge and awareness of their unconscious and covert processes, as well as inter-and intra-personal dynamics, in their professional and personal lives. 
  • Case Conference Supervision (CCS)– During Internship students meet weekly with seasoned practitioners in CCS.  In CCS,  students (as clinicians-in-training) discuss challenging cases and explore how their personal and social identities and their clients, influence case conceptualization and the treatment process. Here our coursework comes alive as students explore the challenges of real-world mental health practice.  In CCS,  students reflect on their therapeutic effectiveness and receive mentorship to address areas of concern.  

Comprehensive Immersion in Clinical Work

Early in their degree path or often while pursuing courses in Counseling methods,  students are immersed in clinical work. This immersive approach exposes students to real-world practice, buttressed by experiential coursework and reflective supervision.  At each stage in their development as professional counselors, students are equipped with the necessary clinical skills and knowledge to quickly learn.  Our program caters to students entering the counseling field with academic and experiential backgrounds in psychology or human services and paraprofessional experiences.  Such backgrounds enable quick uptake of mental health knowledge and skills.  We also offer a "career-changers" pathway that begins with introductory courses designed for those entering the counseling field following other career paths or education with minimal academic and experiential backgrounds in human and social sciences or human and social services. Students pursuing our part-time degree paths complete a variety of academic courses before entering the immersive clinical training phase described above.

  • In the practicum training year, students spend 9-16 hours per week in clinical work. They complete a minimum of 50 hours of face-to-face counseling and receive close to 100 hours of group and individual supervision. Additionally, students meet weekly in Reflective Practitioner Supervisor groups and participate in the Group Dynamics Immersion. 
  • In the internship year, students spend 20-24 hours per week at a clinical field site. They complete a 600-hour internship experience with a minimum of 240 hours of face-to-face counseling and spend a minimum of 85 hours in clinical supervision and the Case Conference Supervision. To the extent possible, the internship placement is tailored to the student's choice of specialization. 

Additional resources:

Program Statistics

Visit Master's Program Statistics for statistics such as program admissions, enrollment, student demographics and more.

Program Contact

Contact Deidre Hicks
Coordinator of Education Programs
847-733-4300 ext 205

Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.


Total Units Required On-ground: Standard Curriculum 24 units, Two-Plus Curriculum 27 units 

Total Units Required Online: Standard Curriculum 24 units, Bridge Curriculum 27 Units

Course Title
COUN 406-0Research Methods in Counseling
COUN 406-6Research Methods in Counseling
COUN 411-0Psychodynamic Counseling: Individuals and Systems
COUN 411-6Psychodynamic Counseling: Individuals and Systems
COUN 412-0Group Counseling Theory and Practice
COUN 412-6Group Counseling Theory and Practice
COUN 413-0Human Growth and Lifespan Development -2
COUN 413-6Human Growth and Lifespan Development -2
COUN 414-0Human Growth and Lifespan Development
COUN 414-6Human Growth and Lifespan Development
COUN 415-0Psychopathology and Diagnosis in Counseling
COUN 415-6Psychopathology and Diagnosis in Counseling
COUN 416-0Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
COUN 416-6Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
COUN 417-0Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
COUN 417-6Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
COUN 419-0Contemporary Issues in Career Counseling
COUN 422-0Family, Marital and Couple Counseling
COUN 422-6Family, Marital and Couple Counseling
COUN 423-0Assessment in Counseling- 2
COUN 423-6Assessment in Counseling- 2
COUN 425-0Advanced Research Methods in Counseling
COUN 425-6Advanced Research Methods in Counseling
COUN 426-0Assessment in Counseling
COUN 426-6Assessment in Counseling
COUN 427-0Career and Lifestyle Planning
COUN 427-6Career and Lifestyle Planning
COUN 429-0Human Sexuality
COUN 429-6Human Sexuality
COUN 430-0Vocational Assessment in Counseling
COUN 436-0Counseling Children and Adolescents
COUN 436-6Counseling Children and Adolescents
COUN 440-0Play Therapy Methods
COUN 440-6Play Therapy Methods
COUN 451-0Special Topics in Counseling
COUN 451-6Special Topics in Counseling
COUN 452-0Addictions Counseling
COUN 452-6Addictions Counseling
COUN 453-0Evaluation and Treatment of Trauma
COUN 453-6Evaluation and Treatment of Trauma
COUN 454-0Evaluation and Treatment of Trauma - 2
COUN 454-6Evaluation and Treatment of Trauma - 2
COUN 455-0Introduction to Psychopharmacology
COUN 455-6Introduction to Psychopharmacology
COUN 479-1Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling
COUN 479-2Introduction to Clinical Interviewing
COUN 479-3Contemporary Topics in Counseling
COUN 479-6Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling
COUN 479-7Introduction to Clinical Interviewing
COUN 479-8Contemporary Topics in Counseling
COUN 480-1Methods 1: Introductory Counseling Skills
COUN 480-2Methods 2: Advanced Counseling Skills
COUN 480-3Methods 3: Skills for Social Justice Advocacy, Outreach and Prevention
COUN 480-6Methods 1: Introductory Counseling Skills
COUN 480-7Methods 2: Advanced Counseling Skills
COUN 480-8Methods 3: Skills for Social Justice Advocacy, Outreach and Prevention
COUN 481-0Supervised Practicum in Counseling-0
COUN 481-1Supervised Practicum in Counseling-1
COUN 481-2Supervised Practicum in Counseling-2
COUN 481-3Supervised Practicum in Counseling-3
COUN 481-6Supervised Practicum in Counseling -1
COUN 481-7Supervised Practicum in Counseling -2
COUN 481-8Supervised Practicum in Counseling -3
COUN 482-0Supervised Internship in Counseling -0
COUN 482-1Supervised Internship in Counseling-1
COUN 482-2Supervised Internship in Counseling-2
COUN 482-3Supervised Internship in Counseling-3
COUN 482-4Supervised Internship in Counseling-4
COUN 482-6Supervised Internship in Counseling 1
COUN 482-7Supervised Internship in Counseling -2
COUN 482-8Supervised Internship in Counseling -3
COUN 483-1Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling
COUN 483-2Multicultural Counseling
COUN 483-3Professional Topics in Counseling
COUN 483-6Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling
COUN 483-7Multicultural Counseling
COUN 483-8Professional Topics in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
COUN 484-1Individual Diagnosis and Assessment
COUN 484-2Individual Diagnosis and Assessment
COUN 484-3Individual Diagnosis and Assessment
COUN 485-1Advanced Internship In Counseling
COUN 485-6Advanced Internship In Counseling
COUN 489-6Advanced Research Colloquium
COUN 491-0Colloquium in Counseling
COUN 491-6Colloquium in Counseling
COUN 499-0Capstone in Counseling
COUN 499-6Capstone in Counseling
COUN 540-0Play Therapy Methods in Counseling
COUN 540-6Play Therapy Methods in Counseling
COUN 582-2Supervised Internship in Counseling
COUN 582-3Supervised Internship in Counseling
COUN 584-0Advanced Internship in Counseling

Last Updated: September 12, 2023