Program Highlights

Cal Lutheran's Counseling Psychology program has several unique features that set it apart from other programs of its kind.

Program Mission

The Marital and Family Therapy program emphasizes a systemic understanding of the human experience in its varied contexts. We encourage respect for the diversity of people and their lifestyles, beliefs, values, and aspirations.

Students are trained in a range of theoretical models designed to help understand the complexity of issues people face throughout their lifespan. Systemic thinking is encouraged to allow students to appreciate the interpersonal and interdependent aspects of motivation, emotion, and behavior. Additionally, our students have the unique opportunity to experience the integration of their classroom learning with applied clinical work in our two Community Counseling Centers. This in-depth integration of clinical and scientific literature with actual professional service to the public allows you to cultivate your professional identity throughout the program.

Program Learning Objectives

Students who successfully complete the program will be able to:

  1. Understand and apply systems theory and other theoretical models to inform case conceptualization and intervention skills.
  2. Understand and employ standards of professionalism, ethics, and law in the provision of clinical services.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of diversity and cultural competence.
  4. Demonstrate assessment and diagnostic skills.
  5. Demonstrate intervention skills with individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Counseling Centers

A special feature of the program is a 12-month practicum placement in one of our on-site Community Counseling Center program locations.

Both centers are low-cost community counseling facilities, which provide intensive on-site clinical training experience for graduate students. The clients who are seen by student therapists at the centers provide experience in working with a full range of marital, family, and child problems.

Individual supervision, group supervision, staff training, peer support, and shared learning experiences — in an atmosphere designed to facilitate growth as a therapist — create exceptional opportunities. Each student therapist experiences a variety of client types, client problems, and therapeutic approaches. Work as a sole therapist and as a co-therapist is incorporated, and up to 750 hours applicable to the California licensing requirement are obtained.

Clinical Specializations

Each student chooses a six-credit clinical specialization. This opportunity enables students to gain extra training in a clinical area and advance their knowledge in a specialized clinical topic. Specialization courses change from year-to-year based on trends in the field and student interest in different topics. Our recent specializations are:

  • Psychological Trauma
    The trauma specialization begins with a course focusing on the fundamental concepts, models, and theories of psychological trauma. The second course emphasizes trauma assessment and treatment. Starting in fall 2019, the psychological trauma specialization will be offered online.
  • Attachment Theory
    Attachment theory deals with the central human question of the formation of lasting connections. The first course introduces students to the fundamentals of attachment theory as well as to basic research on various aspects of the theory. The second course reviews several attachment-based clinical applications in therapeutic work with couples, families, children, and individuals.
  • Recovery Model
    This specialization offers an in-depth exploration of the varied approaches to serious mental illness recovery, including assessment methods, analysis, and application of behavioral and social learning principles.
  • Latino/a Counseling
    This specialization allows students and mental health professionals to focus on counseling within the context of the Latino/a cultural perspective. The first course emphasizes theory and the second course focuses on clinical applications.  This class is taught in English. No Spanish is required.

Community Outreach Project

In addition to the 60-unit program, students in practicum are required to complete one community outreach presentation during their practicum, but are highly encouraged to do additional work if possible. They may choose the topic of the presentation and which group they wish to present to (a school, agency, clinic, etc.); however, this must be approved by the Director prior to the presentation. Verification that the presentation has been completed must be submitted and will be stored in the trainee's file. The purpose of the community outreach presentation is to foster trainee professional development, strengthen student networking skills, and to educate the community of available services and resources at our Community Counseling Centers.

Comprehensive Exams

Students in the program are preparing to become licensed Marital and Family Therapists in the state of California. The Comprehensive Exams offer students a unique opportunity to prepare for licensure post-graduation during their degree program.  These exams are mock versions of the California Law and Ethics licensing exam and California Clinical licensing exam that align with test structure, format, types of questions and passing score of the state licensure exams.

Cohort-based Program

Students in the program are part of a cohort. The cohort model allows students to start and complete the program together, as well as take classes and complete clinical training with the same group of students throughout the program. It also enhances students' educational experiences by adding to the traditional professor-student model, in which students are given the opportunity to build community ties, acquire leadership skills, and network in a professional manner with peers and future colleagues.

Each incoming class is separated into cohorts based on location. Each year, one cohort is created in Oxnard and one in Thousand Oaks. (One one fall cohort in each location.)