MSMHC Department

The Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program educates students in the fundamentals of counseling theory and practice in an experiential and interpersonal learning environment that facilitates personal and professional growth. Our aim is to train professional counselors with a sound basis in ethical behavior, counseling theories, contemporary research, and professional skills, creating a knowledge base and capacity for thinking that can be translated into effective counseling practice with individuals, families, and groups from diverse backgrounds. We strive to guide our students to become more self-aware and self-reflective as they hone their intellectual and emotional skills. We encourage critical thinking, emphasize professional honesty and integrity, and foster a commitment to providing services to local communities.

Program Objectives

  1. Establish a professional identity as a clinical mental health counselor.
  2. Articulate a fundamental knowledge of research, theory, and practice in the field of counseling, within the following content areas:
    • Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice
    • Social and cultural diversity
    • Human growth and development
    • Career development
    • Counseling and helping relationships
    • Group counseling
    • Assessment and testing
    • Research and program evaluation
  3. Engage in critical thinking and demonstrate a heightened self-awareness.
  4. Practice counseling with an acute sensitivity to issues of diversity.
  5. Assess clients and apply appropriate intervention strategies to help clients resolve their problems of living.
  6. Seek ongoing professional consultation with colleagues and supervisors to foster the development of a professional network.

Counseling Core Faculty

Dr. Colleen Sandor lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah. She received her PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Utah in 1996. She has been licensed since 1997, and has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient, intensive outpatient, substance abuse facilities, college counseling centers and the VA medical center. In 2007, she and Dr. Wanlass launched the Master’s in Mental Health Counseling program. She has been the chair of this program since 2014 and is the MSMHC’s liaison to the Utah Mental Health Counselor’s Association. She is deeply devoted to training mental health counselors in delivering good counseling treatment. To that end, she sees her mission as threefold, helping counseling students develop a sound theoretical base founded on a variety of theories, helping students develop strong counseling skills that can be utilized in a variety of settings and with various populations, and helping students foster their own professional counselor identity so that when they move into their own clinical work they can represent themselves and the field of counseling in a clear and ethical manner. In addition to teaching at Westminster, Dr. Sandor has been involved in a variety of community-related activities. She is a national faculty member of IPI and of the Salt Lake Chapter of IPI, teaching and training counselors in the community and internationally. She served on the board of directors for the Utah chapter of the ACLU and the Rape Recovery Center. In 2006 she travelled to Tanzania Africa to work in an AIDS hospice for a month.

Ellen Behrens, PhD received her M.A. in Counseling from Marquette University and her PhD in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. She has been core faculty in the MSMHC program since 2012. Dr. Behrens has counseled teenagers, young adults, and families in many levels of care, including community mental health centers, university counseling centers, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient settings, and residential treatment centers. She has extensive experience with individual, group, and family counseling as well a clinical assessment. She currently provides individual counseling at Westminster’s Counseling Center. She is the Chief Editor for the Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and a Research Scientist for the Center for Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare at the University of New Hampshire. She publishes research on the mental health, family, and attachment outcomes of adolescents and young adults in residential and wilderness treatment.

Janine Wanlass, PhD is the founding chair of the Master of Mental Health Counseling Program at Westminster College. She has been a core faculty member in this department since its inception in 2007 and has taught psychology at Westminster College since 1990. Dr. Wanlass conducts research in technology-assisted counseling and supervision, group counseling for eating disorder clients, family and couple counseling, and the clinical treatment of traumatized children. Her paper presentations span a range of topics, most recently on a model for counselor identity and grief counseling with families. She is a psychoanalyst and counseling psychologist, serving as the executive director and faculty member of the International Psychotherapy Institute in Washington, D.C., a non-profit, post-graduate psychoanalytic training institute. Her community and advocacy work include teaching psychotherapy in Russia and China, where clinicians have limited access to training, her prior service as chair of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council for Utah, and consultation with the Office of the Guardian Ad Litem. She maintains a private practice where she counsels children, adolescents, adults, families, and couples, struggling with traumatic experiences, depression, anxiety, and grief.

Prospective Students

Financial Aid

2017 Program Handbook

2016 Program Handbook

Prior Syllabi

General Program Information (Admissions Criteria, Methods of Instruction, Minimum Degree Requirements, Matriculation Requirements, and Curriculum Map)