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counseling students practicing skills

Deciding on the path that’s right for you can be challenging. There are many choices of graduate professional programs, and the overlap among these choices can be confusing. Here are some factors that set Pitt’s Counseling program apart: 

  1. You can craft your own personalized educational experience. Our students make several choices that allow them to tailor their education. This includes having the option to explore a range of topics or zeroing in on an area of interest right from the start. Our students choose elective coursework in the areas of trauma and grief counseling, child and adolescent counseling or clinical rehabilitation and disability. Our students benefit from a wealth of clinical training options at over 70 training sites throughout the University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and across the greater Pittsburgh area, including world class institutions like UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. Students make these and other choices in consultation with their faculty mentor whose goal is to foster students’ success, growth and satisfaction with their individualized education. 
  2. We emphasize hands-on skill building. Professional counseling involves applying a range of skills with a diverse array of clients. Our faculty believe that the most impactful way of building these skills is to practice. Our courses involve engaging in extensive video-recorded practice sessions with simulated clients. These “clients” include professional actors, program alumni who give back to the program by acting in this role and course instructors. Video recordings are used to give highly individualized feedback to maximize skill development. We keep our class sizes small (less than 30 students) to ensure that we are able to deliver this intensive training experience. 
  3. We are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), advocacy and social justice. Our program’s historical roots in rehabilitation counseling and disability-focused training means that promoting DEI has always been a major focus. In recent years, our work in this area has greatly intensified. We have expanded opportunities for students to engage with diverse cultures and perspectives. One example is the work that our students and faculty are doing at the SHRS Wellness Pavilion in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood.  
  4. Train with our world class faculty. Our faculty are expert clinicians, educators, scholars and leaders who are dedicated to serving our students and our community. They bring to teaching and mentorship their expertise in working with a broad range of clinical and non-clinical populations, approaches to counseling and clinical work, program development, community-academic partnerships, rigorous clinical research and leadership in local and national professional organizations. 

Counseling alumna Victoria Bonin (MS '16) feels that the Counseling program at Pitt set her up for success. 

“Pitt built a foundation of knowledge and skills for me to be able to be flexible and build further upon. The program has a variety of courses in it to help with a wide variety of options to choose from for a career. I chose to study at Pitt for the small class sizes, opportunities to be interactive and have in-depth discussions,” says Bonin.


Eric Meyer 

Written by: Eric Meyer, PhD 

Director and Professor, Clinical Mental Health Counseling