Why Community Mental Health at CIIS?

The Community Mental Health concentration is based on two core beliefs. One, according to our social justice and community psychology foundations, therapy is a partnership between the therapist and the individual or family engaged in care. Second, therapy delivered in community settings must be based on excellent clinical skills and sound theory.

Our Community Mental Health program prepares therapists to work from these foundations in either community programs or private practice. A strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity guides recruitment, teaching, learning, and professional practice.

How are classes taught? In person, online, or both?

The Community Mental Health program is a BBS-approved, 60-unit, weekend cohort program that allows working individuals to maximize educational outcomes and maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Courses are taught in blended in-person and online formats. Each semester includes five in-person weekend immersions (i.e., Saturday and Sunday). During Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, students take classes with their cohort, allowing for deep and enriching relationships to form between students and with faculty.

All students work closely with a core faculty member, who serves as their advisor throughout the program.

How is the Community Mental Health program meeting the needs of a diverse community?

In California the population is 48% Caucasian, yet the mental health profession is 78% Caucasian. Our program seeks to respond to this reality in the following two ways:

  • We recruit, educate, and support graduate students who represent the communities of California. This requires a commitment to develop and offer courses and clinical experiences that reflect the cultures and communities of the students and the population of the state of California.
  • We seek to equip all therapists who graduate from the program with enhanced awareness of the clinical needs of diverse populations and the ability to provide services that are culturally and linguistically effective.

CIIS encourages representation of diversity, including students from the LGBTQI community, as well as diversity in age.

We seek (and attract) creative, motivated, mature students who have already demonstrated a strong interest in community mental health or community service. Integrity, introspection, and dedication are all essential attributes.

How does the Community Mental Health program approach addiction and recovery?

The Community Mental Health program curriculum incorporates principles articulated in the Mental Health Recovery Model. Those principles include the following:

  • A holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just the symptoms.
  • New definitions of recovery, which state that recovery is not a function of one's theory about the causes of mental illness; recovery from severe psychiatric disabilities is achievable; recovery can occur even though symptoms may reoccur. Individuals are responsible for the solution, not the problem; recovery requires a well-organized support system.
  • This model stresses the importance of consumer rights, advocacy, and social change.
  • This model emphasizes applications and adaptations of theory and practice to better integrate issues of human diversity.

What are graduates saying about the program?

"For the past decade, I have been working in a management role in both suicide prevention and peer support services. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to do direct service work such as facilitating a suicide attempt survivor peer support group, and also to have helped create and manage large mental health service projects, such as the San Francisco Peer-Run Warm Line.

As a person with lived experience of mental health challenges, and as a consumer of community mental health services myself, I have a deep understanding of what clinical work looks like from the client's perspective. This understanding informs all aspects of my educational and professional life. The CMH program, with its focus on diversity and social justice, has been a perfect fit for me and for how I would like to work. I am excited to take what I am learning in this program on to the next phase of my journey." Melodee Au

"The need for Spanish-speaking bicultural therapists and mental health resources in the Bay Area inspired me to become a clinician through the CMH program. The program attracted me because of their commitment to social justice and diversity. CMH is preparing me to work with immigrant families and children from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, the professors enrich me with knowledge and wisdom to guide the next generation of clinicians." Jorge A. Ramirez

"Before coming to CIIS, I spent 10 years in the tech industry doing marketing and product development. Currently I'm a peer counselor, supporting survivors of sexual violence and exploitation at BAWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape). I decided to join the Community Mental Health program because the students were diverse, and I felt that I could learn from my cohort's lived experience. After graduation, I hope to work in the community mental health system, providing therapy and advocating for integrative and comprehensive approaches to care. I'm committed to improving access to mental health care for traditionally underserved communities and moving theories and practices forward with an anti-oppressive, culturally responsive, and strengths-based critique." June Lin

Will this Community Mental Health program lead to licensure?

The professional practice of counseling is a regulated occupation in the state of California. Coursework in the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program at CIIS and each of its five programs is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to fulfill educational requirements toward the marriage and family therapist license (LMFT).

Students also have the option to take additional coursework to fulfill the educational requirements of the professional clinical counselor license (LPCC). Students seeking the LPCC licensure also take courses for the MFT, enabling them to pursue either license and to work with couples, families, and/or children as an LPCC.

Students seeking licensure in California as an LMFT or LPCC must register with the BBS after graduation and successfully complete additional post-graduate supervised clinical associate hours and written examinations. See the BBS’ Statutes and Regulations PDF for additional information.

I want to be licensed in a state other than CA after I graduate. Will my education at CIIS cover the requirements for other states?

In many cases, our coursework and training is very similar or entirely portable to many states. However, each state has their own specific licensure requirements that include both academic coursework and clinical practicum hours that may differ from CA’s requirements.

In cases where this program does not meet the requirements for another state, additional coursework or practicum hours may be required. While licensure may be possible in another state, it is not guaranteed. Luckily, you will have the full support of the Director of MCP who will help you understand the specific licensing requirements.

Lastly, you should consult the licensing boards of the appropriate state of country for the most up-to-date licensing information outside of California.

Questions? Contact us.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about applying to a program or registering for an Info Session, please reach out to the Admissions Office

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