M.A. in Counseling Psychology


Simpson University’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program is designed to prepare you for licensure in the State of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist and to positively impact individuals, couples and families in our community. Our comprehensive curriculum will give you a broad academic and clinical experience that is uniquely grounded in the identity and values of a Christian university.

  • Graduate-level training in theories and approaches to counseling psychopathology, assessment, and human development
  • Excellent faculty who are trained and experienced in the subject matter they teach
  • The opportunity to learn and practice clinical assessment and therapy skills, professional attitudes, and interpersonal competencies throughout the program
  • Supervised clinical experience
  • Excellent individual and group support throughout the placement and clinical field training experience
  • An awareness of issues of diversity and training in working with diverse populations
  • An opportunity to integrate spiritual beliefs and values into the educational experience
  • A focus on the development of ethical and professional attitudes and skills
  • Support for adult students
  • A program that meets the California licensing standards for marriage and family therapists according to Business and Professions code 4980.36.
  • A program that also meets California statutory requirements for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) Licensure under Business and Professions Code 4999.32.
  • Preparation for a career in the field of marital and family therapy or preparation to work in a professional area of service where effective interpersonal skills and human relationships are important to success

Program Schedule

Program Curriculum

The program is sequenced so that students will take 3 two-semester unit courses six credits per term (three courses). Each term is nine weeks long with the exception of the summer terms. Each 20 week long semester is divided into two 9 week long terms with two weeks off between terms. To give students the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends during the summer weeks, the summer term is 7 weeks long with two of the three courses delivered in an online format. Students will most likely be expected to continue providing counseling services at their training sites throughout the summer. The Practicum course will continue to meet in person during these terms. There is a two week break between terms during the Christmas holiday season. 

Course Descriptions

CP 5000 – Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy (2 Credits)

This course presents an introduction to the foundations of family therapy, including the historical development of the field and the fundamental concepts associated with family therapy. Also included is an exploration of how the field of marital and family therapy addresses issues such as socioeconomics, poverty, gender equity, and race. Students will explore professional identity and development issues related to becoming a marital and family therapist including the process for becoming licensed in California.

CP 5020 – Child & Adolescent Development (2 Credits)

This course explores the transactions between biological, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental factors affecting human growth and development from conception through adolescence including an understanding of the development of characteristics such as resilience. The focus is on exploring and understanding the major theories of child and adolescent development with emphasis on the application of theory to real life situations and problems such as poverty, malnutrition, access to adequate education, and the child-rearing practices of various culture groups found within California.

CP 5040 – Child & Adolescent Psychopathology (2 Credits)

This course provides an understanding of the broad range of childhood and adolescent problems and disorders and explores the major psychopathologies of childhood and adolescence. Various theories for the etiologies of child and adolescent psychopathology are considered as well as a discussion of the impact that culture, socioeconomics, and family resources has on the identification and treatment of child and adolescent disorders. An emphasis is given to assessment and multi-axial diagnosis of the disorders using the current edition of the DSM. Also covered is an examination of the approaches most frequently used to treat various disorders of childhood and adolescence and the evidence supporting those approaches.

CP 5050 – Adult Development (2 Credits)

This course provides a broad understanding of the nature and needs of individuals in adulthood. Developmental theory from early adulthood through aging and death is explored including aspects of physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual development. An awareness of cultural, gender, familial, socioeconomic (including social insecurity, social stress, education, housing, and nutrition), religious and spiritual, and historical perspectives as they affect the development of adults are considered. Students will explore how adults cope with normal and abnormal life events such as expected and traumatic loss, change, adversity, and economic and social stress.

CP 5060 – Research Methods (2 Credits)

This course provides a survey of key concepts in social science research including sampling, measurement, research ethics, and design. Additional topics include the evidence base for clinical research, the evaluation of interventions, and pseudoscientific concerns in clinical research. Emphasis is placed on the review, evaluation, and application of professional literature to clinical practice in marriage and family therapy.

CP 5070 – Psychopathology in Adults (2 Credits)

The focus of this course is on the assessment, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of personality and behavioral disorders in adulthood. Emphasis is on the assessment and multi-axial diagnosis of disorders using the current edition of the DSM. An overview of evidence-based treatment approaches for the major mental disorders is included. The course offers faculty and student dialogue on topics related to understanding disorders and integrating clinical strategies derived from a Christian perspective.

CP 5080 – Legal and Ethical Issues (2 Credits)

This course introduces students to the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to the practice of marriage and family therapy in the state of California. Professional ethical codes and moral dilemmas are studied. A review of statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws related to the MFT's scope of practice, including confidentiality, privilege, reporting requirements, family law, and the treatment of minors is covered. The legal and ethical standards applicable to working in different types of settings, current legal trends in the mental health professions, and a review of the laws and regulations pertaining to licensure in California are also covered. Consideration is given to the student's spiritual beliefs, values, and behaviors, especially in relationship to becoming a marriage and family therapist.

CP 5090 – Family Therapy: Theory and Practice I (2 Credits)

This course covers the foundational principles of family systems theory and practice and begins a study of the classic models of family therapy. Students will explore their family of origin and will apply various theories to their own family. A discussion of how the various theories address issues of poverty, social, and economic deprivation is provided. Also, the appropriateness of the various theories in clinical work with various marginalized populations and culture groups particularly those found within California is covered.

CP 5100 – Psychological Assessment (2 Credits)

This course provides students with a broad understanding of the clinical uses of psychological tests, including an introduction to the major types of instruments and understanding test results. An overview of the variety of assessment and diagnostic tools used to assess for behavioral, psychological, and relationship problems is given. Emphasis is given to understanding the relationships between presenting issues and social and financial stress, education, poverty and deprivation, trauma, substance abuse, stage of life, and cultural impacts such as those associated with a variety of cultures found in California including race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Students will be presented with accepted methods of documentation and report writing.

CP 5110 – Contemporary Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy (2 Credits)

This course provides a broad overview of issues that currently affect the profession and practice of marriage and family therapy in California. Included is a presentation of the current trends in the mental health professions including systems of care for the severely mentally ill, the services, supports, and resources that are available to SMI clients and their families, client advocacy, and the management of client cases. Empowerment of clients to collaborate in their own treatment and a focus on recovery models and evidence based practices is given special attention. Students will meet with consumers and/or their family members. Students will learn appropriate methods of disaster response and will be exposed to community and governmental resources for responding to natural and man-made disasters. As current issues evolve, the topics covered in the course will also evolve.

CP 5210 – Counseling Skills (2 Credits)

This course introduces students to basic skills in attending behavior, clinical interviewing, treatment planning, progress notes, clinical intervention, and collateral consultation and referral. This is an experiential course with emphasis on skills development through role plays, observing and providing feedback, and audio/videotaped clinical practice.

CP 5220 – Christian Identity & Professional Development (2 Credits)

The focus of this course is the examination of the key issues in the theological foundations of human nature and personal identity development. Students are encouraged to develop an identity as a marriage and family therapist that reflects the frameworks of meaning in spiritual development and that engages clinical perspectives that are beneficial in therapeutic practice.

CP 5230 – Christian Ethics and Professional Development (2 Credits)

This course examines the integration of moral maturity into the development of a professional identity as a marriage and family therapist. Students will analyze the philosophical perspectives and ethical assumptions and biases that they bring to the study of marriage and family therapy and will develop an appreciation for moral and ethical requirements of the profession.

CP 5240 – Child Abuse and Family Violence (2 Credits)

This course provides the definition and incidence of physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual molestation; the dynamics of family violence, and resulting evidence of trauma. Offender and non-offender characteristics are reviewed. Emphasis is given to understanding cultural factors as they apply to family violence. The treatment of children, adolescents, the family, and adults abused as children is covered. The evidence for and efficacy of various treatments is examined. Ethical and legal issues, referral sources and community resources, and confidentiality is covered.

CP 5250 – Religion, Marriage and the Family (2 Credits)

This course examines how marriage and the family are viewed within various religions. Discussions center on the role of religion in the formation of marriages and families

CP 6310 – Family Therapy: Theory and Practice II (2 Credits)

This course is a continuation of Family Therapy: Theory and Practice I. A comprehensive survey of the models of family therapy continues in this course with an exploration of the role of language, meaning, and process in relationships. Students will learn to think systemically across a wide range of presenting issues and will learn to conceptualize and apply interventions from multiple systemic orientations. An exploration of how the various systemic theories covered in this course apply to clinical work with a variety of marginalized populations, cultures, social and economic problems will be given. (Prerequisite: CP 5090)

CP 6320 – Couples Therapy and Family Violence (2 Credits)

This course examines the psychotherapeutic theories and processes for the assessment and treatment of a wide range of relational issues. Emphasis is given to the detection, assessment, and intervention strategies for family violence and trauma with particular attention given to cultural factors that are relevant to abuse of partners and family members, and the dynamics of same-gender abuse. Attention is given to understanding and working with non-traditional couples.

CP 6330 – Groups: Theory, Process & Practice (2 Credits)

This course provides a broad understanding of group development, dynamics, and therapy. Major theoretical approaches and group leadership styles are discussed. Several different approaches to conducting group therapy are reviewed and practiced. This is an experiential course where students function in the role of group members and also co-lead the group.

CP 6340 – Psychopharmacology (2 Credits)

This course introduces the common physical and medical issues that relate to the practice of marriage and family therapy. The biological and neurological bases of human behavior and use of psychotropic medications as an adjunctive therapy to psychotherapy is covered. Current information on the classes of medications and their use is covered. Consideration is given to the special needs of certain populations such as children, the elderly, substance abuse patients, patients with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, and the severe and persistently mentally ill.

CP 6350 – Issues of Diversity in Counseling (2 Credits)

This course evaluates students' awareness of divergent cultural values, assumptions, and family dynamics and is designed to sensitize students to the impact of culture on the counseling process. Through experiential exercises and assignments, this course examines the conceptual and theoretical foundations of cross-cultural counseling and examines the multicultural and pluralistic trends, characteristics, and concerns of diverse groups, particularly those found within California. Special attention is given to exploring how Christian beliefs and values affect one's understanding of diverse cultural practices.

CP 6360 – Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders (2 Credits)

This course provides an introduction to substance abuse and co-occurring disorders including a careful examination of the diagnostic criteria in the current edition of the DSM. Assessment procedures and treatment issues are discussed with emphasis given to evidence-based treatment approaches. The etiology of substance abuse and co-occurring disorders is carefully reviewed. An overview of the risk factors, prevention strategies, and the physiological and psychological effects of substance abuse on individuals, relationships, and systems, including the relationship between substance abuse and trauma, is provided. Attention is given to systemic issues and ways that various systems support or influence substance abuse and recovery. A review of the current laws regulating the treatment of substance abuse is covered. Students will be given the opportunity to meet with consumers and/or their family members.

CP 6370 – Child & Adolescent Therapy (2 Credits)

This course presents a variety of psychotherapeutic modalities, offering the student an opportunity to develop basic child and adolescent therapy skills, assessments, and treatment strategies. The impact of developmental aspects, family dynamics, the social environment, family violence, and trauma is addressed. A review of best practices and evidence based treatments of children and adolescents is given. Legal and ethical issues in the treatment of children and adolescents are discussed.

CP 6380 – Geropsychology (2 Credits)

This course provides an introduction to the unique social, psychological, and behavioral aspects faced by older adults later in life. A definition of elder abuse and maltreatment, as well as the laws and regulations for reporting, is covered. Issues that are unique to the health and long-term care of older adults is presented. Emphasis is given to understanding the care and status of older adults within the various culture groups found in California. Discussions about financial and social stressors, nutrition, housing, self-care, and changing relationships are included. The course also provides students with an overview of the knowledge, techniques, and skills needed to work with the elderly population in a therapeutic relationship.

CP 6390 – Psychopathology and Family (2 Credits)

This course focuses on the etiology of family dysfunction, specifically from a dual function of individual and systems psychopathology. An exploration of the influence of the family on the development, maintenance, and prevention of behavior, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders is covered including family structure, environmental factors, socioeconomic stressors, educational level, parenting, culture dynamics, and family life cycle issues. A review of the seminal and current research findings on the role of the family in the development and maintenance of behavior disorders and the best practices for treating them is provided.

CP 6395 – Human Sexuality (2 Credits)

This course reviews human sexuality in contemporary society from biological, psychological, social, and moral perspectives. Anatomy and physiology of human sexuality including reproduction, normal and abnormal sexual response, psychosexual development, human fertility, and human sexual dysfunction are covered. An overview of the models of sex therapy and treatment strategies utilized in treating sexual dysfunctions is provided.

CP 6406 – Practicum I: Introduction to Clinical Field Placement (2 Credits)

This is an introductory course that prepares students for the Clinical Field Placement experience. During this course students will select and interview for placement at a training site. Students will be presented with all requirements for successful clinical field training.

CP 6407 – Practicum II: Clinical Field Placement and Seminar (2 Credits)

This course is a one-semester, supervised experience in an approved clinical setting providing direct therapy services. Students also attend a weekly seminar led by a faculty member where they will present individual, marital, and family therapy cases, present and evaluate video taped counseling sessions, and consult with faculty and clinical peers. Seminar time will also be spent preparing students for the Clinical Evaluation Project (CEP) capstone project. (Prerequisite: CP6406)

CP 6408 – Practicum III: Clinical Field Placement and Seminar (2 Credits)

A continuation of CP 6407. Seminars will review recovery concepts. Students will apply the recovery model when conceptualizing cases and doing treatment planning, including access to resources, healthy functioning, health promotion, and preventing illness. Seminar time will also be devoted to identifying ethical dilemmas in clinical practice and supervision and in formulating responses to dilemmas.

CP 6409 – Practicum IV: Clinical Field Placement and Seminar (2 Credits)

A continuation of CP 6408 Practicum VIII. In addition to case consultations, seminars will review the integration of awareness of multiple issues and dynamics into the development of a clinical picture and the formulation of interventions. Seminar time will be devoted to the development of prognoses utilizing information about clients' access to resources, strengths, assessed resilience, and family and social supports.

CP 6410 – Practicum V: Clinical Field Placement and Seminar (2 Credits)

A continuation of CP 6409 Practicum IV. During this course students will present their Clinical Evaluation Project (CEP) to the seminar.

CP6510 - Master's Thesis I (2 Credits)

This course is the gateway to students wishing to complete the Master's Thesis option. During the sequence of courses comprising the Master's Theses, students will complete scholarly research, analysis, and writing which is relevant to the field of marriage that reflects their specific interests, current trends in the field, or future professional or academic goals. For students on a two-year program completion plan Master's Thesis begins in the student's third term and typically takes a total of eight terms to complete. The sequence of thesis courses are offered as Directed Study and students will work with their thesis supervisor to complete the project. Grading is P/NP (Progressing/Not Progressing). Prerequisite: Approval of the Capstone Committee.

CP6520 - Master's Thesis II (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6510 Master's Thesis I

CP6530 - Master's Thesis III (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6511 Master's Thesis II

CP6540 - Master's Thesis IV (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6512 Master's Thesis III

CP6550 - Master's Thesis V (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6513 Master's Thesis IV

CP6560 - Master's Thesis VI (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6514 Master's Thesis V

CP6570 - Master's Thesis VII (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6515 Master's Thesis VI

CP6580 - Master's Thesis VIII (.5 Credits)

A continuation of CP6516 Master's Thesis VII

CP6580E - Master's Thesis Extension (.5 Credits)

Students who are not able to complete the Thesis within the eight terms during the program will enroll in this course for not more than two additional terms. This course is an extension of CP6580 Master's Thesis VIII.

In addition to the policies and procedures published in the Simpson University MACP Catalog, 2012-2013 (PDF), the following policies and guidelines are in effect for the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program.

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