Clinical Mental Health Emphasis

Clinical Mental Health Emphasis

Put your MA in Counseling to Work in a Clinical Setting

Listening. Asking. Understanding. Strategizing. People with mental and emotional disorders require a different kind of healthcare – and your skills are greatly needed. 

With an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, your MA in Counseling from PAU prepares you for a career focused on recovery-oriented treatment. You’ll work with individuals or families, or with specific populations such as children or the elderly. 

As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), you will also be directly responsible for ensuring client safety, following standards of care that meet all legal, ethical and moral guidelines.

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How the Program Works

The MA Counseling program with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CACREP accredited) prepares you to pursue credentialing as a  Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, or Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

In addition to coursework, one of the key requirements is clinical practicum/internship training, where you will gain direct experience in the role of a professional counselor. You'll complete a minimum of 700 hours of counseling-related experience over a 9- to 12-month period. This training includes a minimum of 280 hours of direct counseling experience.

PAU works with agencies and practitioners across the region, country, and around the world to ensure you get culturally relevant mental health care training at the highest standards. Common types of placements include community and county mental health agencies, school-based mental health centers, and non-profit counseling centers.

Palo Alto University works with agencies and practitioners in a student's locale so they obtain a high standard of culturally relevant mental health care training.


What Can You Do with a CMHC Emphasis?

Specific career tracks for licensed clinical counselors include:

  • Mental health counseling
  • Private practice
  • Addiction counseling
  • School-based counseling
  • Career and guidance counseling
  • Community-based agency practice and management
  • Rehabilitation counseling

Non-Licensed Career Options

While most graduates of this program pursue licensure, students who defer seeking licensure may seek positions in education, research, publishing, administration, advocacy, business, and other fields, or pursue further educational opportunities at the doctoral level.

What can you do with LPCC Image

Licensure Options


In California, PAU's MA Counseling with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to meet the educational requirements for the Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) license with the Board of Behavioral Sciences in the State of California (Business and Professions Code §4980.36).

This degree is the first step to obtaining an LPCC license. The State of California requires graduates to accumulate two years (104 weeks) of supervision and 3,000 hours of post-master's supervised work experience.

Learn More: California (BBS) Board of Behavioral Sciences
Other States

The PAU Program and emphasis may fulfill educational requirements for licensure in many other states and territories - be sure to investigate your region's specific laws and regulations before enrolling.

This program and emphasis may fulfill the educational requirements for students seeking licensure in many other states and territories. Students who plan to seek licensure in another state or territory should research their region's specific laws and regulations before enrolling. Information on state counseling boards can be found on the AASCB website.

Information on State Counseling Boards

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What do LPCCs Do?

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors deliver mental health care to individuals, couples and families, and groups, incorporating the principles of empirically-based and recovery-oriented counseling.

Professional counselors help clients to understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives. They are directly responsible for ensuring client safety, remaining compliant with all laws, and regulations and ethical guidelines for the profession.



Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
CACREP Accreditation Logo
CACREP Accredited

PAU's world-renowned programs are fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Our faculty and training meet or exceed quality standards, reflecting our commitment to providing the highest level of care for all students.

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Online and In-Person Format

If you choose our online learning format, you will complete your coursework via distance learning, and do your practicum placements locally, in your home community.

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Expert faculty at Palo Alto University
Expert Faculty

MA in Counseling faculty bring strong backgrounds in family therapy, child/adolescent development, clinical practice, counselor education and other disciplines that are the basis of practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist or Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

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Mike Shook 602 x 401
Mike Shook, Alumni & Podcast Creator

A 2016 graduate of the PAU Master’s in Counseling program with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health, now has a private practice in Beijing, China and is the creator and co-host of The Thoughtful Counselor podcast.

Learn More about Mike Download his podcast
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