By Indiana State University
Nov 19, 2019
Anna Viviani loves her work in the counseling profession and she’s helping mold the next generation of counselors as the director of the counselor education doctoral program and the clinical mental health counseling program at Indiana State University.
The doctoral program in Counselor Education (CE) prepares students in counseling, teaching, supervision, research, and leadership/advocacy. The CE program is a full-time on campus program with a heavy emphasis on mentoring emerging leaders in the counseling field to be academics, researchers, and social justice advocates. Students have faculty mentors and have the opportunity to present at national conferences and participate in research other than their own dissertations. They also have opportunities to deepen their counseling skills, develop their supervision competency through live practice, and explore their teaching philosophy through multiple experiential opportunities.
State’s clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) program is a 60 credit hour, nationally-accredited two-year master’s program. In addition to the 60 credit hours, counseling students also complete 1,000 clinical hours in order to meet the state licensure requirements upon graduation. The program boasts 100 percent placement of its graduates at the end of the program, whether that is in a counseling-specific position or into a doctoral program.
“With the counseling shortage we have in the state, we really need these graduates ready to enter the workforce when their education is finished,” Viviani said.
What makes Indiana State’s program unique and most beneficial in getting students from classroom to career? Viviani credits the experiences they receive at the Grosjean Clinic, which uses a live supervision model.
“From the first moment they walk in, they have supervision constantly. As sessions are going on, there’s a supervisor behind the glass. Halfway through the session, students go behind the glass to get supervision feedback, then go back and finish the session before going back behind the glass again at the end of the session for more supervision feedback on that particular session and plan for their next session,” Viviani said.
During their practicum and internship experiences, students also receive supervision from a faculty member on campus, a site placement supervisor and group supervision as part of the class every week.
“We are very fortunate that our students get to learn from supervisors in the clinic who are licensed practitioners from the community,” Viviani said.
The fall of 2019 included a first-year cohort of 18 students and a second-year cohort of eight. The first summer of the program includes 12 credit hours and another nine hours in the fall, as students begin a transition into the Norma and William Grosjean Clinic – clinical space in University Hall that provides interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching, experiential learning, research and community engagement for undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty.
Beginning in the spring semester, counseling students are enrolled in nine credit hours while taking a full caseload of clients at the Grosjean Clinic. They maintain that client load for a full year until the late fall semester of their second year. They take on a semester-long external placement somewhere in the Wabash Valley for a full academic year beginning fall of their second year.
“I have students as far north as the women’s correctional facility in Rockville and students as far south as Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. They’re also placed at agencies like the Hamilton Center, Gilbault and community counseling centers in the area,” said Viviani, associate professor of applied clinical and educational sciences. “When they finish the program with us they are licensed-eligible in Indiana and several of our surrounding states. If they’re wanting to go to a different state, I sit down with them to make sure they pick up any other coursework they might need.”
That’s the kind of face-to-face interaction Eleni Moreland was craving after previously taking online courses at another university.
“I also heard about the live supervision experience with the Grosjean Clinic and I felt that would be a huge component of my education,” she said. “The last hands-on experience I have greatly valued is the experience with the Clinic, which I have been participating in since fall 2018. The live supervision model is very educational and the feedback I have received has allowed me to grow personally and professionally.”
The experiential learning didn’t end there, though.
“One of the hands-on experiences I have received is being a part of the Chi Sigma Iota board as the events planner. This has been a great experience working with the university and with my peers,” Moreland said. “Another hands-on experience I have received is the groups we facilitate at Ryves Hall. Working with those kids allowed us to lend a helping hand to the community.”
State’s students are required to take the national exam for their licensure and they routinely score above the national average, Viviani said.
“I think it’s because our course work is rigorous and we push our students to be the best they can be. We have an honor society, Chi Sigma Iota, and students work hard to become members, which requires a minimum 3.5 GPA to be invited into the honor society,” Viviani said.
She added that the faculty work to keep up with the newest literature and all present at conferences and go to see the newest and latest in the field to make sure students are being trained in all of those areas.
Viviani teaches foundations of counseling, ethics, techniques of counseling (which is the student introduction to the clinic and counseling skills), practicum, internship, appraisal, careers and an eating disorders class, as well as her duties as program director.
“As program director, I am also in contact with local employers and our external sites on a regular basis to see what more we need to be doing to make sure our students are prepared, and that’s included a focus on trauma and making sure students have a thorough background in trauma care,” she said.
The knowledge gained as students have allowed State graduates to pursue employment at counseling centers throughout the state, in community mental health agencies, VA clinics, private practice and local community mental health agencies, as well as going on to doctoral programs.
“I push students pretty hard on ethical behavior and I can see that it’s working through the national exam, where it is one of the content area that our students really score high in,” she said. “I want them to love the profession as much as I do because if they don’t, they will not be successful and they need that to help their clients. That connection and using their theory and skills is what will help move their clients forward.”