The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, and since it has added so many pressures to daily life, mental health has taken centre stage. As Connecticut faces a mental health professional deficit, UConn is working to fill the gap by offering a pilot programme that prepares students to become licenced professional counsellors.
This summer, the first cohort of seven students began the new Licenced Professional Counsellor (LCP) certificate programme. Kimberly Richmond was one of only two students who accomplished it completely.
Richmond, a graduate student in counsellor education at UConn, shared his experience, “I think already started seeing it with like opportunities, internship and practicum opportunities, and just kind of like tiny, little, just one-on-one interactions can make a big difference, especially with children”.
As part of a 600-hour internship, students combine what they learn in class with clinical work. As Licenced Professional Counselor-Associate (LCP-A), students direct the programme. They can seek full licensure after completing 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate counselling work, which allows them to work in the mental health profession or create a private practice.
Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Sara Renzulli, UConn Assistant Professor of Counselor Education, said:
This is a very accessible opportunity for unique, brilliant, compassionate and kind students like Kim to go out and respond to and serve the needs of the Connecticut population.
Renzulli is director of the online summer programme, which focuses on mental health counselling, addiction and substance misuse, trauma and crisis counselling, and diagnosing and treating mental and emotional illnesses.
According to Renzulli, this meets a great need and addresses the shortage of mental health professionals. She further mentioned, “The pandemic caused unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression and caused all other mental health issues to emerge or come to light. And that greatly strained the already strained behavioural health and mental health system. Especially in Connecticut, we don’t have enough consultants to meet the requirements”.
My ideal goal is to work with underserved communities in urban Connecticut cities. I want to go beyond just the school sector. That’s why I want to continue and do this even after school hours, and that’s what I’ve done, like my personal clientele, that I can work with as needed.
Students who have completed or are pursuing a master’s degree in school counselling or psychology are eligible for the LCP certificate programme. It will be available again next summer. UConn is currently accepting applications through December 1st.
The University of Connecticut’s (UConn) Licenced Professional Counsellor (LPC) Online Graduate Certificate focuses on skill development and academic credit towards attaining the LPC certification, which is overseen by Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (CT DPH). As this programme bridges a master’s degree, students must have or be pursuing a master’s degree in school counselling, school psychology, or a closely related discipline.