MS in Counseling

At Cairn, we believe that psychological health centers on the restoration of relationship — with God and with our fellow man. Building on classroom learning, our students practice models and techniques for healing relationships through weekly labs with an intimate cohort of fellow believers preparing to serve the Great Reconciler, Jesus Christ.

This 48-credit program is designed to be completed in two years, including two summer terms.

By completing an additional 12 credits, students can pursue specialized preparation for professional licensure.

Apply by March 14 to be eligible for the March 21 group interview!

Program Distinctives

The emphasis on biblical worldview is an important element of the MSC curriculum. First, it reflects the University’s academic mandate to first and foremost serve students, the church and the world as an evangelical, biblically-based institution. Second, the ability to think about persons and their problems from the vantage point of a Christian worldview is especially vital in counseling where the need to engage in dialogue with and a critique of research and applied psychology and psychotherapy defines “Christian” and “non-Christian” counseling. In addition, the MSC curriculum informs students about the practice of counseling in a culturally diverse environment in which numerous aspects influence both the needs of people and the kinds of effective counseling services that can be provided both within the context of a distinctly Christian ministry and the society at large.

The counseling faculty teaches counseling as an art that must be practiced in order to be mastered. From the first day to the last day in the program, students participate in laboratories and/or practical field experiences that serve as realistic training environments. Students learn basic counseling skills, an individual assessment model, a marriage counseling model, and group counseling through hands-on, trial and error rehearsals under the watchful eyes and artful supervision of the faculty. By the time students complete the 48 credit masters and begin their practicum and internship they will have spent more than 160 hours of their graduate education putting into practice the skills, concepts and models they learned in their core lecture courses.

Cairn’s counseling faculty are committed to teaching counseling by example. This requires personal involvement with students both inside and outside the classroom. The counseling faculty are involved with students as people immersed in professional life and ministry and are committed to giving students the same personal attention and respect they will one day give to their counselees. From assistance with the application process and advice on registering for courses to classroom interaction and one-on-one lab supervision, our faculty and staff make it a priority to focus on each student as a unique individual. This is essential to helping each student realize their full potential.

Cairn’s 60-credit option provides students with the preparation needed to be eligible for professional licensure. Many of Cairn’s graduates have become licensed counselors in various states though most students pursue and become licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For additional information pertaining to licensure please see our licensure page and/or contact the Director of Practicums & Internships.

Students of the MS in Counseling program have the opportunity to apply to Oasis Counseling Center for their Practicum and Internship if they take the 12 additional credits to pursue licensure. Cairn has the privilege to offer the counseling services of staff and intern counselors to graduate and undergraduate students of the University as well as to members of the surrounding community. Oasis offers a number of exceptional students a professional and unique training opportunity which includes;

  • Integration of Technology (live & recorded video) with Student Training
  • Diversity of Clinical and Subclinical Presentations
  • Broad Range of Clientele Demographics
  • Individual and Group Supervision
  • Collegial Atmosphere of Support
  • Access to a Variety of Counseling Resources
  • Concentrated Hands on Trainings

Core Values

Understanding people and their problems and helping them change are challenging tasks. Students in the MSC program are equipped for this task by an experienced and diverse faculty who base every aspect of counselor training on the following core values:

Christ is the ultimate source of life and health. People cannot truly experience wholeness– psychologically or spiritually–without knowing Christ intimately and obeying Him unconditionally. As our Creator and Lord, He alone can give us the power and freedom to change, live and love as healthy people.

The Bible, God’s written word, is the only reliable and sufficient source of knowledge for providing an authoritative and comprehensive framework for fully understanding the complex nature of human beings, their problems and the ways they change. The Bible provides counselors with the conceptual and ethical foundation essential in choosing and implementing counseling interventions. Whether one counsels in a formal therapeutic setting or in an informal discipleship or ministry context, the same Biblical guidelines remain relevant and applicable.

Created in the image of God, people need relationships to grow and stay healthy. The relational environments in which people exist play an important role in either contributing to their difficulties or promoting their health and growth. Helping people find or build honest and loving communities of relationships is an essential part of counseling people and promoting their well-being.

Although suffering is an inescapable part of human existence, it is not the source of people’s psychological problems.  The key is how people choose to respond to suffering.  The primary focus of Christian counseling is not to help people escape suffering, but rather to help them understand, respond to and use their suffering in ways that enable them to discover and enjoy otherwise untapped spiritual truths and resources.

For counseling to be effective its ultimate goal should not be to just solve people’s problems or relieve their emotional pain, but to also help them acquire and display the character of Jesus Christ in the midst of whatever problems or pain they are experiencing. Modeling the character of Jesus Christ in what we say and do to those we counsel is the first and foremost responsibility we have as Christian counselors. Effective character-directed counseling requires the spiritual resources of faith, prayer and worship.

Typical Program Curriculum

Semester Course
Summer #1 Overview of Christian Theology
Fall #1 Counseling Theory and Helping Relationships
Helping Relationships Lab
Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
Models of Theology and Psychology
Spring #1 Psychopathology: Individual Assessment and Counseling
Individual Assessment and Counseling Lab
Orientation to Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling
Theological Foundations of Counseling I
Summer #2 Counseling Elective
Counseling Elective
Fall #2 Marriage and Family Counseling
Marriage and Family Counseling Lab
Theological Foundations of Counseling II
Spring #2 Small Group Dynamics, Development, and Leadership
Small Groups Lab
Seminar on Trauma and Grief Counseling
Psychological Development and Intervention Across the Lifespan
Optional Third Year Professional Licensure Classes Career Development Counseling
Psychological Research and Evaluation
Psychological Measurement and Diagnosis
Professional Development Practicum
Professional Internship I
Professional Internship II

For more information about the MS in Counseling degree program, contact Gwen Dorsey, Admissions Counselor, at gdorsey@cairn.edu.

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