02 January 2016

Master of Counselling programs while living in the East or West Kootenay's

Looking at taking a masters level program in counselling while living in the East or West Kootenay's? Then these are some programs worth checking out. (This is not a ranking, for information only)

Gonzaga University
I will note that I am biased to this program, as A) I am a Gonzaga fan and B) this is the program that I graduated from. This course is site based, meaning travel is required to where-ever the site is for the cohort. For example, the site has been in Calgary, Lethbridge, Nelson and Cranbrook. The courses are typically every other weekend during the fall, winter and spring. During the summer, there is a month long intensive residency in Spokane, WA. which is a beautiful city.

Pros: The program is face-to-face with your professors and classmates. With classes on the weekend, you can still work full-time.

Cons: Payment is in US funds. When the Canadian dollar dips, this program becomes very expensive

University of Victoria
While there is the option to do the program on campus, the other two deliveries are: three summers or two summers with online material. The summer courses start in July and run until mid-August, roughly six weeks of residency work. The intakes for these two deliveries are regular, but not every year.

Pros: Program is face-to-face. With the two summers, there is the balance with online course work. With summer programming, if you work in the school system, this is a perfect fit.

Cons: Finding six weeks to take off work during the summer may be difficult for some. Travelling and living costs in Victoria can be pricey.

Athabasca University
All programs at Athabasca are online based. This counselling program offers different streams: Art, Counselling Psychology, and School Counselling. There is also a course-based or thesis-based approach to the programs. While online delivery is the focus, there is a summer residency component.

Pros: Online delivery means optimal flexibility for the student.

Cons: Minimal face-to-face, one summer, meaning that whoever your practicum supervisor is may greatly influence your face-to-face experience of the program.

Yorkville University
This program is purely online based for course work. It is still a new developing program, but is recognized by most provincial student loan programs, so that means there is legitimacy to this purely online school. Vintage counsellor's will tell you there is no place for an online program in a profession that is all about people contact. However, this program relies heavily on the practicum experience and your practicum supervisor.

Pros: Online delivery means a lot of flexibility for the student.

Cons: Your practicum experience in this program is weighted heavier than others, and is up to your practicum supervisor (who is not a paid faculty member).

Practicum Note
Practicum experiences make or break any counselling program. So be sure to research and interview your practicum supervisor. Especially make sure that their credentials meet the basic requirements for a practicum supervisor in the professional body you want to be certified in, because at times there is in-congruence between counselling program and professional body. One last note, is that while it may be easy and simple to do a practicum at your place of employment, consider all ethical dilemma's for you, your supervisor and especially your client.

Good luck in your research!

A full list of programs available in Canada are listed on the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association website.

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