MA Concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling

The Master of Arts in Psychology concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling (CMHSAC) combines a firm grounding in general psychology with early exposure to the clinical literature related to substance abuse. The program draws on the strengths of The New School for Social Research in clinical psychology to meet the current and anticipated need for trained professionals in the field of substance abuse treatment, particularly with respect to dual diagnosis, assessment, harm reduction approaches, and program evaluation. The curriculum fulfills the academic eligibility requirements to sit for the New York State Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate (CASAC) examination. Students are eligible upon graduation from the CMHSAC to apply to New York State for a CASAC-Trainee (CASAC-T) certificate.

Like the general MA in Psychology, the MHSAC concentration requires completion of 30 credits, with three courses required: Introduction to Substance Abuse Counseling, Advanced Issues in Substance Abuse Counseling, and Psychopathology III. These courses are always offered during the regular academic year. See the CMHSAC Student Handbook for more information about the required courses.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Pursuing the CMHSAC master's degree does not in any way preclude a student from entering the doctoral program in psychology. CMHSAC students who petition to enter a PhD program are subject to the same admission requirements as students enrolled in the general MA program: an acceptable grade point average; passing the comprehensive exam; passing both a master's-level research methods course and the Assessment of Individual Differences course; and meeting the statistics competency requirement. There are, however, some caveats:

  • CMHSAC students may be disadvantaged in their ability to take so-called "comps-relevant" courses as electives. CMHSAC students are strongly encouraged to audit as many comps-relevant courses as their schedules allow.
  • The one-credit Ethics course and the two-hour online Child Abuse Reporting training are not CMHSAC course requirements but are among the New York State academic requirements for CASAC eligibility. Students who wish to complete all of the academic requirements to sit for the CASAC exam must take the Ethics course (increasing their total credits to 31) and the free 2-hour training in Child Abuse Reporting.
  • CMHSAC students who intend to apply for the clinical PhD program must take Research Methods, Introduction to Statistics and Research Design, and History and Systems courses. Therefore, they are unable to take any elective courses and, instead, must complete one additional A-level course.
  • The Adult Psychopathology course is not part of the department's required CMHSAC curriculum, but it is required for CASAC eligibility and the Clinical PhD track.

In a recent important development, the New York State Office of Substance Abuse Services now permits CMHSAC graduates to sit for the CASAC examination immediately following completion of their master's degree with work experience to be acquired later. This is based on the CMHSAC program meeting all of the 350-hour educational requirements for CASAC eligibility (Introduction and Advanced Substance Abuse courses, Path 3, Adult Path, Ethics, and the two-hour mandated online Child Abuse Reporting training—taken as part of the Advanced Issues course). Note however, that graduates who take the CASAC exam and receive their scores will not be granted CASAC certification until they have completed the required 2,000 hours of work experience. 

Supervised clinical placements at the New School–Beth Israel Center for Clinical Training and Research and placements at many other substance abuse treatment facilities in the New York City area are available to qualified students in the program. While direct clinical experience is not strictly required for the CMHSAC master's degree, it is strongly encouraged.

Students are advised to consult with their student advisors and review the CMHSAC Handbook 2011 before registering for CMHSAC-related courses.

Email all questions about the Concentration in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling to

Faculty Profiles

Dr. McWelling Todman

Dr. Jenifer Talley

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