Counseling Program Moves Toward Professional Standards under Henning’s Direction

| February 3, 2010
Stacy Henning credits staff and faculty at the extended campuses for helping move the program toward accreditation.

Stacy Henning credits staff and faculty at the extended campuses for helping move Webster’s Counseling program toward professional standards. Photo by Marianne Kirk

Since coming to Webster University in the summer of 2008, Stacy Henning, director of counseling worldwide, College of Arts & Sciences, has worked on raising the standards of the counseling program.


“She is doing incredible work improving one of the biggest — if not the biggest — counseling programs in the country,” says Sarita Cargas, associate dean, College of Arts & Sciences. “Our counseling program is so lucky to have her.”

Henning brings to her position a 10-year background in corporate consulting before earning her M.Ed. in counseling and a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, she had her own practice and was a clinical professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where she developed and directed the School and Family Counseling Center in addition to teaching as a full time faculty member.

She is also a site team visitor for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and one of eleven members of the Ethics Committee of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Recently, Inside Webster sat down with Henning to get an update the counseling program.

IW – How does Webster’s counseling program differ from those of other universities?

SH – We assume we are the world’s largest counseling degree program and are working on data collection to support this assumption. That alone sets us apart to lead the profession in those areas in which we have or create expertise. Our large adjunct faculty base and student population position us to be leaders and participants in most areas of professional counseling.

In regard to program revisions, there are so many campuses and students that any amount of revision takes time. The program has close to 2,000 students taught at some 26 campuses in the U.S. and about 40 students taught in Geneva and Leiden.

IW – What changes have occurred since you’ve been directing the program?

SH – Our staff, all part time, with the help of various Webster administrative personnel, has been responsible for the tough part of revision – implementation. With the help of many, we have revised the admissions protocols to match more closely with those of the majority of graduate counselor education programs across the nation in addition to ethical code and professional standards.

Other revisions include:

  • an agreement to train Army Chaplains and National Guard Chaplains;
  • revised coursework and all syllabi to match professional standards and elaborate on measurable learning objectives;
  • increased the library holdings;
  • aligned the components of the field experiences with professional standards and ethical code to include the use of regular skills evaluations, time logs, group supervision and regular contact with clinical supervisors;
  • developed official record keeping student files;
  • developed a counseling specific student handbook;
  • developed and implemented a remediation for student success program as mandated by ethical code and professional standards;
  • written the first draft of our proposal to the state of Missouri for approval of school counseling emphasis to our MA in Counseling degree;
  • revised the exit exam for validity and reliability; organized a group of leading counselor educators in Missouri to establish state approved counseling coursework for online instruction;
  • developed a program assessment plan that aligns with code and professional standards; and
  • currently conducting research to lead the field in disaster relief counseling and on the intersection of human rights, social justice, and counseling.

Additionally, we now have a public link to our program, an open group site for communications with our 350+ adjunct faculty and 2,000 students, revised texts list and developed a plan for full time faculty in our program in order to create the infrastructure necessary to ethically and professionally manage the world’s largest counseling degree program.

IW – How will you get there?

SH – We’re in the first phase of a three-phase approach that includes:

1.     Revising admissions protocol, assessment plan, curriculum content, overall pedagogy, remediation protocol and bring the field experience to meet ethical code and professional standards.

2.     Adding further professional standards to faculty and institution goals.

3.     Obtaining accreditation.

These things couldn’t be accomplished without the people at the extended campuses who are working through the revisions. Faculty and staff at extended campuses are consulted for much of the revision process and credited with making the sometimes difficult changes in practice and pedagogy.

IW – What new areas are being developed?

SH – We are growing our expertise in Disaster Relief Counseling, which is a new area in the field in professional counseling. Other programs we’re working on include:

  • The National Guard and Army Chaplains agreement;
  • The Human Rights, Social Justice and counseling research program; and
  • The School Counseling emphasis program.

IW – You were recently appointed to Ethics Committee of the American Counseling Association (ACA). How will that help your efforts?

SH – One of our goals is to position Webster’s program as a world leader in counselor education.  We’re trying to emphasize our areas of expertise and that has kind of surfaced as being in Disaster Relief Counseling, currently a hot topic in professional counseling. We are well positioned to be leaders in this area because of our adjunct faculty and staff  in the southeastern U.S. and Geneva.

Last fall I presented our work on human rights and counseling and in the spring I’ll present our findings relative to components of a disaster relief counseling certificate.

I believe our adjunct faculty and staff holding professional committee positions in addition to participation in the scholarly and clinical fields is key to presenting the Webster counseling degree program as a credible source for counselor education.

Being on the Ethics Committee also creates name familiarity for Webster as well as increases my personal knowledge around ethics and that which I bring to the counseling degree program. Any professional committee position that our adjunct faculty and or staff holds helps to build our credibility and professionalism in the field.

To read more about the Counseling program and Henning, visit this Global Thinking post.

Category: Webster News

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