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UT Tyler mental health program becomes nationally accredited

Stacey Spivey

POSTED: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 5:46pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 6:46pm

University of Texas at Tyler professors said they believe mental health is a hot topic right now, and this is why they have decided to expand their services in the College of Psychology and Counseling.
"We really, really needed to strengthen our the mental health provider services in our country," said Dr. Chuck Barke, department chair and professor.

He told KETK "we learned that the federal government was changing its rules about who can work in the VA system, and work with active duty military to provide mental health services," and it has been two year long process to accommodate these rules. It now is required to work with the VA systems in mental health services, the counselor must have a graduate degree in mental health counseling.

UT Tyler already had a similar program, but has changed the name and has become a nationally accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs,also known as CACREP. Dr. Barke said this will only make students better candidate for jobs. "It creates a very, very important new resource for our students to graduate from this degree program and then be able to go to work," said Dr. Barke.

He said they will not only national recognition, but hands-on experience. including internships at places like the Andrews Center in Tyler. "Students in our graduate program spend time there several days a week working with clients who are seeking mental health services," said Dr. Barke. Christine McNichols oversees the interns at the Andrews Center, and said, "this is all hands on training that they will use when they go to pursue licensure and as they start working with clients."

Both Barke and McNichols agree this will create more opportunities, and spark more interest in their students. McNichols said, "it may be easier to get jobs in certain areas," and Dr. Barke continued to say, "I think overall the interest and need for mental health services, people who can provide that, is growing still."

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