AcademicsGraduate AcademicsClinical Mental Health Counseling

Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Earn your Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s degree at Naropa, the first university in the West to offer rigorous academics paired with contemplative practices, all within a supportive network of like-minded peers.

One Degree,
Six Concentrations

Our Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree offers six unique concentrations of study. Each concentration allows students to deepen their work as helping professionals through different modalities of healing, all with the common thread of compassion, empathy, and self-awareness. These six concentrations are unified as one degree by their sharing of a core curriculum grounded in the professional identity of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. 

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Quick Facts

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Program Overview

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program encourages introspection and mind/body awareness as well as a holistic approach to the development of professional counselors.

The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree is uniquely designed to balance personal and professional development. You’ll graduate with a stronger sense of self and the confidence to use a social justice framework in supporting individuals, families, and communities in need.

We are excited that this fall students will be engaging in two new courses, Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Legal and Ethical Aspects of Counseling. The content and learning experiences presented in these courses was formerly distributed across several courses, and with this change Naropa provides more dedicated space for student learning on these two critical areas of professional counseling.

Naropa’s contemplative approach to Clinical Mental Health Counseling is based on the Buddhist concept that humans are basically good. This philosophy assures us that, whatever our issues, each of us is essentially healthy at our core. The ability to uncover innate basic goodness — or “brilliant sanity” — builds confidence in both the counselor’s ability to help the client and the client’s ability to heal themselves.

Naropa’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling students approach clinical work through a strong social justice lens, applying their understanding of oppression and social injustice to the therapeutic relationship. Students are required to evaluate their own internal biases and life experiences. As a result, our future counselors are better prepared to work with marginalized clients in a compassionate, socially aware manner that promotes healing rather than causing further harm. 

As a student in this program, you will engage in two clinical placements; a practicum and an internship. As you experience real-world counseling scenarios and explore your own biases, life experiences, and personal philosophies, you will develop the skills to become a compassionate professional counselor. 

Program Format

Our Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a three-year degree consisting of regular coursework and about 700 hours of field-based clinical experience.

Students complete their practicum and internship during their last year and a half of study, both at a community agency and under the supervision of professionals. Students engage in a Summer session between Years 2 and 3, in order to support continuity of care with clients during practicum and internship.

Students are also provided with university supervision during the Winter intersession of their third year, again to support continuity of care during internship. 

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Course Spotlight

Group Counseling: Dynamics & Leadership

This clinical mental health counseling course examines the history, theories, models, and research of group counseling and group dynamics. Emphasis is placed on clinical mental health group counseling skills and techniques. The course includes at least 10 hours experiential participation as a group member. Additionally, students will also gain experience and practice as a group leader with supervision, feedback, and guidance. 

Areas of Concentration

There are six areas of concentration within Clinical Mental Health Counseling, providing students the opportunity to deepen their practice as a helping professional. Our concentrations reflect the diverse approaches to health and healing utilized within the Clinical Mental Health Counseling field, as well as the diverse nature of individuals.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentrations available are: 

Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling

Your passion for art can be used as a tool for healing—for both yourself and others. Learn how to leverage creative energy for the greater good with contemplative and clinical approaches.
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Somatic Counseling

Earn a master’s degree in counseling that helps you utilize the mind/body connection for healing. Become a somatically informed counselor prepared to work with individuals and families in diverse settings.

Somatic Counseling: Dance/Movement Theories & Practice

Harness the joy and healing power of movement for yourself and others. Prepare to be a movement/dance therapist in this somatic counseling master’s program.

Buddhism-Informed Contemplative Counseling

Take a deep dive into world wisdom traditions and learn how to apply the principles of mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy in a clinical setting.

Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling

This concentration is firmly rooted in mindfulness and transpersonal traditions, supporting students’ development of present-moment awareness.

Nature-Based Transpersonal Counseling

Nature’s power to improve our mental health is profound. Gain counseling skills, leadership capabilities, and experience in a number of nature-based therapeutic modalities.
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Why Choose Naropa?

Mindfulness Focus

Naropa’s mindfulness approach intersects with all Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentrations. We see meditation as a powerful tool for helping aspiring professionals find their place in an increasingly complex society. We practice contemplative education, which means that we value the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and seek to attend to the whole person during the educational experience.

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Experiential Learning

Another important accent of contemplative education is its focus on first-hand experience. In addition to learning about concepts, we place students into direct experience and engagement with the subject matter, so they can “see for themselves.” Thus, the education at Naropa is highly experiential.

Eastern & Western Wisdom Traditions

Naropa promotes a holistic approach to counseling that blends world wisdom traditions, Western approaches to mental health, and multicultural education. We believe there is a unique opportunity for utilizing contemplative practices within work for social justice. The two are mutually supportive and beneficial. Our graduates are uniquely prepared to face the challenges of a changing world and its multiple perspectives.

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What You'll Learn

Counseling Experience

Begin your clinical career with professional competence in counseling.

Diversity Awareness

Treat and work collaboratively with people in diverse community settings.

Mindfulness Skills

Recognize and point to moments of brilliant sanity in yourself and others.

Buddhist Tradition

Practice contemplative wisdom and body awareness throughout the program.

Career Readiness

Finish your degree with a roadmap to licensure and certification.

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Career Opportunities with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA Degree

Graduates of our programs go on to employment in a variety of clinical and educational settings.

Career opportunities include: 

Faculty Highlight

[Students]  get the broad stroke to know how to be clinicians in the field, how to be professionals. And they get this concentration of study that is unique, […] that you can’t get anywhere else in the country.  […] So they get the basic grounding in the field and they get to do something so unique and interesting that gives them confidence and what I’d like to call a sustainable degree.

Professor Deborah Bowman

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

FAQS about the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

A Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling allows graduates to pursue a professional practice including licensure, consultation, and direct practice in a variety of settings.

Licensure and accreditation requirements vary across the United States and internationally. To practice Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Colorado, individuals must have a Masters’ level education and register through the State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, as well as fulfill a series of requisites. To obtain information about licensure in other states, see our State Authorization Federal Regulations Resource.

Naropa’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree includes areas of emphasis (e.g., mindfulness-based modalities, transpersonal awareness, and contemplative pedagogy) that are not available anywhere else in the country. 

Learn More About the Program

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Graduate Admissions Counselor
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Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

The general admissions requirements and processes are the same for all concentrations within the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

These are:

  • Online application with a new or existing account.
  • Transcripts from any institutions where undergraduate coursework was completed.
  • Statement of interest based on application prompts.
  • Resume/CV detailing academic, employment, and volunteer history (including exact dates of participation).
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate your work.
  • Completion of a group interview.
  • Concentration-based application requirements.

International students will submit all of the elements above, and those with an undergraduate degree from a non-US university must submit additional documentation in order for their application to be reviewed. Please check our international students page to find out about additional requirements.

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Costs and Financial Aid

Degree-seeking students taking the program for graduate or undergraduate credit may be eligible for federal financial aid if enrolled for at least 6 credits (three weeks undergraduate credit, three to four weeks for graduate credit). Three out of four graduate students receive some form of federal (loans) or institutional support to finance their graduate degree. Costs may vary from one concentration to another, and between on-campus and low-residency degrees.

Graduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to graduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our graduate scholarship page.
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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.