Evaluation and Due Process
Each student’s academic performance, personal maturity and professional skill development will be reviewed regularly and systematically by core faculty members (who comprise an Evaluation Committee) and by site supervisors (site supervisor input will be sought after completion of practicum and until the student finishes Internship II). Each student will be evaluated at three points in the program: pre-practicum, pre-internship I, and pre-internship II. Evaluation takes place through core faculty ratings of students’ dispositional characteristics and academic and professional readiness to work with clients in practicum and internship, as well as complete the requirements of those courses.
The student developmental evaluation serves a gatekeeping function in the program. It helps faculty be alerted to areas of concern that can be addressed in supervision or by other means. Also, students who are deemed not ready or able to complete practicum or internship will be notified of the faculty’s concerns. A student may receive practical recommendations or requirements as part of this evaluation review, if the student’s academic performance, personal development, and/or professional development are evaluated below the benchmark expectations. Any student who receives a below-expected review will receive a written notification. The notification will detail the area(s) of deficiency and will indicate what is required to demonstrate acceptable improvement. The faculty will recommend or require that a student take specific actions to resolve the situation, such as: (1) doing further study in an area of academic weakness, (2) seeking personal counseling to resolve problems that are interfering with the student’s performance, (3) receiving increased supervision, and/or (4) other actions or recommendations as appropriate.
Depending on the nature and severity of the issue(s) that led to an unfavorable review, a student could be dismissed (see dismissal from program) or placed on probationary status for the following semester. Additionally, faculty could recommend or require postponement of the upcoming practicum or internship course. Regular status would be restored by faculty after the next semester’s review if the student demonstrated adequate improvement in the areas previously judged as unfavorable. Adequate demonstration of improvement would include evidence that the student has complied in good faith with the recommendations or requirements from the previous semester’s evaluative review. If the subsequent end-of-semester review remains unfavorable, the student would be subject to dismissal.
An Evaluation Committee meeting can also be held at any time during a semester at the formal request of a member of the CMHC Program faculty, in the event that a student’s behavior or counseling performance raised serious concerns about a student’s ability to counsel. Such a review could include recommendations or requirements for practical action by the student, or the possibility of departmental action as cited above.
Dismissal from the Program
Violations of professional ethics as defined by the American Counseling Association (ACA) guidelines, or serious deficiencies in academic, professional, or personal areas will result in temporary or permanent dismissal from the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. Major ethical violation(s) will result in an immediate dismissal.* A continuing pattern of minor ethical violations will be grounds for dismissal if, in the judgment of the Evaluation Committee, any one or combination of these seriously impairs the student’s ability to function as a professional counselor. A student’s pattern of behavior that has the potential to cause harm to clients, endangers his/her health and safety or others’ health and safety, or is so inappropriate that it interferes with others’ opportunity to participate in the program will be grounds for dismissal. As noted above, dismissal could result from failure to resolve an unfavorable evaluation. In the event of a dismissal, the student will receive written notification from the Program Director indicating what specific professional violations or deficiencies in academic, professional, or personal areas led to the dismissal.
If the dismissal is not permanent, a clear statement of what the student must do to be reinstated will be part of the written notification. A prime consideration in deciding for a permanent dismissal is whether there is a substantial risk, even with attempts at remediation, that the impaired behavior or similar behavior would reoccur.
*Determination of major versus minor ethical violations will be a judgment of the Evaluation Committee.
Appeal Process Following Dismissal Decision
A student may appeal a dismissal decision of the Evaluation Committee. A letter of appeal must be submitted to the Chair of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department who will activate the appeal process. Upon receipt of the appeal letter, the Chair will form an Appeals Committee comprised of two graduate faculty members, two licensed professional counselors from the field, and two Master in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate students. This Appeals Committee will review all data pertaining to the appeal and will make recommendations to the Chair. A finding that is consistent with the original Evaluation Committee decision will result in dismissal. If the student is not satisfied by the decision of the Evaluation Committee and the Appeals Committee, a final appeal may be made to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the prior decision is upheld, the student is dismissed from the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.
A student who makes an appeal should be prepared to appear before the Appeals Committee or the Vice President for Academic Affairs with additional evidence and/or clarification of previous data. The student may appear with a representative. Failure to appear will be considered as a decision by the student to withdraw the appeal.
The Evaluation Committee, the Appeals Committee and the Vice President for Academic Affairs reserve the right to call witnesses and seek all information specific to the dismissal. Such information will fall under the ethical and legal standards of confidentiality.