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Department Signatures

Our program signatures highlight our departmental values and commitments that encompass the characteristics we embrace and develop as a counselor training facility.

Humanistic Engagement

The Department of Counseling and Human Services believes in the power of human relationships to be a catalyst for positive growth in students’ and clients’ lives. We diligently work to nurture meaningful relationships among students and faculty that extend beyond static notions of student teacher. We consider student-faculty classroom interactions to be important and necessary to the professional development of students; but also, we believe the mentoring that occurs beyond traditional academic spaces is vital to preparing outstanding counseling practitioners, supervisors, and educators. Our faculty provides mentoring on a range of professional endeavors including research, professional identity, and career aspirations. We expect that such commitment to humanistic engagement provides a model through which students can develop collaborative and meaningful working relationships with the clients, students, and supervisees they serve.

Reflexive Leadership

Within the Department of Counseling and Human Services, we aspire to be leaders at all levels of influence, namely community, state, regional, national, and international, with a focused intent of providing leadership within counseling, counselor education, and supervision. We are dedicated to advancing the profession through scholarship, professional service, pedagogy, and clinical engagement. Our leadership commitment is situated within reflexivity in that we believe that the most effective and transformative leaders accomplish change through a high level of self-awareness and ongoing cultivation of their personhood. We are motivated to mentor the next generation of leaders in order to create a legacy of leadership emanating from Syracuse University and generating a profound impact on our communities, clients, students, and professional associations.

Impactful and Engaged Scholarship

Grounded in a belief that academic pursuits can address real world dilemmas, the Department of Counseling and Human Services is involved in research projects that are designed to make a
difference in the lives of students, clients, and consumers. Embedded in the communities we serve, student and faculty research is informed by, and in turn, informs the populations with whom we work. Whether seeking to identify effective teaching, counseling, or supervision strategies or exploring the experiences of a particular group in a specific context (e.g., students of color in multicultural coursework, clients with hearing loss in a community clinic, LGBT persons participating in counseling or Gay-Straight Alliances), our scholarship is noted as having a wide influence on the overall counseling and counselor education profession. As recognized experts in their field, members of the CHS community have authored widely referenced books, and they regularly publish in top-tier counseling and counselor education journals. The dissemination of our scholarship at state, national, and international conferences, as well as community in-services and workshops facilitates practitioners’ access to our work and ensures the spread of best practices to many of the areas of service most in need.

Experiential and Constructivist Pedagogy

Our student-centered learning community encourages students to be open and reflective, willing to explore novel knowledge and experiences, and fully engaged in the learning process. The central premise anchoring constructivist pedagogy is that individuals and groups make meaning of novel information, at least partially, by interpreting it through the lens of past experience. Therefore, learning is an active, contextualized process rather than something acquired directly and objectively from an instructor, text, or other source. This entails that students are not just passive receivers of knowledge but rather active agents in the learning process. We view students’ prior knowledge as foundational to the learning process. Students are encouraged to self-reflect in order to become more conscious of whom they are as well as to become more aware of the life experiences which have contributed to their development. Students can expect to engage in activities that ask them to experiment with ways to integrate prior knowledge with the novel knowledge and skills they encounter in the program. Students will encounter a learning environment rich with activities and experiences that will parallel the real-world contexts and situations they will encounter as helping professionals.

Socially Just Advocacy and Activism

The Department of Counseling and Human Services has a deep and long-standing commitment to being change agents and advocates for social justice. We have held leadership positions in several professional counseling organizations wherein we have spearheaded initiatives designed to identify and respond to systems of oppression that negatively influence development and wellness. Additionally, we are engaged in counseling related community service that is focused on increasing access to and the equity of counseling and educational services with underserved populations, including but not limited to people with disabilities, people living in under resourced communities, and people who identify as part of an historically marginalized population (e.g., persons who are LGBTIQ, persons of color, English language learners). Students are supported to engage multiple curricular and co-curricular opportunities to enact professional standards of excellence related to advocacy and develop the knowledge, skills, and awareness necessary to confront the varied forms of discrimination which continue to perpetuate disparities in opportunities and outcomes for marginalized communities. Collectively, we create meaningful assignments and develop community engaged experiences that integrate and reflect our ongoing commitment to social justice and advocacy.

Wellness, Prevention, and Resiliency

Wellness, prevention, and resiliency are foundational values of professional counseling and counselor education and are supported by the faculty and staff of the Department of Counseling and Human Services. Wellness engenders healthy growth, personal evolution, and the overall well-being of the individual. Prevention serves to optimize and contextualize the meaning and intention of self-care, and it is a core value of professional counseling. Resiliency involves the ability of the individual to readily navigate difficulty in both personal and professional endeavors. Because of the guiding values of professional counseling and the imperative role of one’s personhood in being a counselor, supervisor, and educator, it is important that a commitment to wellness, prevention, and resiliency be pervasive in individual practice to filter into the educational, supervisory, and therapeutic environments. To do so ensures the health of the individual and the profession. The Department strives to support wellness and encourages the resiliency of students to foster their ability to traverse the graduate education experience, thereby promoting more highly functioning and effective professionals.

Constructivist Clinical Supervision

The Department of Counseling and Human Services provides a challenging and supportive supervision experience that encourages critical reflection of self, impact on others, as well as intuitive ideas related to how people develop and how professional counselors assist in this growth process. We strive to assist counseling students in constructing theoretical and philosophical approaches to counseling that integrate idiosyncratic ideas and prior knowledge with established, empirically supported approaches that are appropriate for the varied contexts in which they may find themselves working to enhance the lives of others. Students can expect to work closely and collaboratively with their supervisors as they begin the life-long process of counselor development. We are committed to cultivating supervisors and supervision experiences that are reflective of the synergy between lived experience and clinical supervision discourse.