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The Buzz

Program Director explains need for trained mental health professionals

Feb 20, 2023

What are the current issues faced in the counseling field? Dr. Devon Bowser shares her thoughts and how Waynesburg's Master of Arts in Counseling Program is working toward a solution.

Dr. Bowser serves as the program director for the Master of Arts in Counseling and the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision programs, and as associate professor of counseling. Her research interests include spirituality in counseling, the use of popular culture in counselor education, and addressing needs of autistic children and their families.

As a licensed professional in the field of counseling, what would you say is one of the biggest issues faced currently within the field?

The need for mental health treatment in our communities has risen substantially and is now greater than the capacity of our current healthcare treatment system. Put plainly, there are simply more people in need of help than there are mental health professionals that can provide that help. This disparity is particularly evident in rural and underserved communities, with existing counselors risking professional burnout to try to meet the rising need for services.

What is the importance of having trained professionals, such as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), working to resolve this issue?

There is a vital need for trained mental health professionals, particularly Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), who have the knowledge and skills necessary to help individuals with complex needs. While many individuals have difficulties that impact their mental health, the experiences and needs varies greatly across individuals and groups. LPCs address treatment of each individual in the context of that individual’s psychological, social, spiritual, and physical well-being. LPCs are able to work in a wide variety of settings and work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to meet the needs of our communities.

What are some of the ways LPCs can help individuals facing difficulties in mental health?

Oftentimes, individuals come to LPCs because they find that they are struggling to cope with a situation or experience. LPCs work to help people move through life’s transitions, and are trained in empirically-based practices that promote healing and growth. Counseling aims to help people not just address their current situation, but to gain new knowledge and skills that they can use in future experiences.

How does Waynesburg’s Master of Arts in Counseling program prepare students for careers in counseling?

Students come to our program with a strong and deep-rooted desire to help others. Our Master of Arts in Counseling program amplifies this calling by providing rigorous training in the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance the emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual development of others. With an emphasis on innovative and evidence-based learning, our program focuses on developing self-reflective counselors who are able to meet the needs of a diverse world. Students are able to benefit from the expertise and mentorship provided by our faculty as well as the experiences of their cohort peers, leading to a strong community of Waynesburg University alumni who answer their counseling vocation with both confidence and competence.

How does the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Professionals both benefit Waynesburg students preparing for the field and combat issues faced in rural communities?

Our BHWET Program specifically targets the need for more mental health professionals in rural communities by increasing experiential training opportunities that provide mental health services in these communities. The program provides eligible Master of Arts in Counseling students with a $10,000 stipend while completing their clinical field experience in a rural or medically underserved area. Through this program, we are also able to provide ongoing training and collaboration with behavioral health professionals who supervise these students, leading to increased employment of our graduates in rural and underserved communities.

Master of Arts in Counseling at Waynesburg U.

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Counseling Program and what Waynesburg University has to offer.

BHWET Program for Professionals at Waynesburg U.

Learn more about the BHWET Program for Professionals and the opportunities it affords current Waynesburg University Master of Arts in Counseling students.