FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Tarleton State University’s Department of Counseling celebrates 40 Years of Excellence Wednesday, Jan. 31, honoring those who helped jumpstart the program in the late 1970s as well as current and past faculty and staff.
A come-and-go reception takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. in Room 218 of the Tarleton Dining Hall, with a special program at 2:15. Everyone is invited.
“This is a momentous occasion and a testament to the vision of Dr. Richard Lampe and longtime professors Drs. Linda Duncan and Ann Albrecht,” said Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio. “Their passion, combined with the leadership of Dr. Julie Merriman and the dedication of current faculty and staff, are the catalysts for the department’s growth and innovative partnerships.”
Prior to becoming a stand-alone unit in 2015, the program was part of the Department of Psychology and Counseling in Tarleton’s College of Education. Today, counseling is one of four departments that make up the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.
Dr. David Weissenburger, interim dean of the college, explained that separating counseling from psychology was key to giving it the identity it deserves and earning endorsement by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) last year.
CACREP accreditation affirms Tarleton’s commitment to excellence and identifies its master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling as one of the best in Texas, even the nation, according to Merriman, head of the department.
“The accreditation is a clear indication of our ability to serve the needs of our students and provide the education and training they need to provide the best care possible,” she said.
Some initial steps toward the CACREP accreditation process were taken in 2010 by Weissenburger when he was head of the Department of Psychology and Counseling. Merriman took the reins in 2013, investing four more years into the process while working with university leaders to create a separate department, build curriculum for the master’s program and develop alliances with community mental health providers.
Thanks to those partnerships, counseling students gain true-to-life clinical experiences at organizations such as MHMR of Tarrant County, Pecan Valley MHMR, Heart of Texas MHMR, Starry Counseling, The Warm Place, Mesa Springs Hospital, The Family Place and The Art Station Fort Worth. They also can complete internship hours at student counseling centers on Tarleton’s Stephenville campus or at McLennan Community College in Waco.
The Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES) took notice of the department’s pre and in-service training opportunities last fall, awarding it the 2017 Outstanding Master’s Counselor Education and Supervision Award.
“The SACES award speaks volumes about the talented and dedicated team of faculty and staff in the Department of Counseling,” Merriman said. “Because of their commitment, we’re meeting North Texas’ need for highly-qualified professionals with the knowledge and heart to make a positive difference.”
When Duncan and Albrecht joined Tarleton, the counseling program—then a master’s of education—was geared toward helping high schools meet the 1958 National Defense Education Act requirement to have a professional counselor on staff. Coming from public school careers, they understood the need and were eager to help.
While Tarleton’s program still provides training for school counselors, today’s emphasis on clinical mental health counseling reflects current needs.
After Lampe left Tarleton, Duncan was the sole counseling faculty member until Albrecht came onboard. She taught every course in the curriculum and saw the program grow from 39 majors in 1987 to nearly 200 just five years later.
“It was fun to have a colleague,” Duncan said of Albrecht’s arrival in 1992. “She and I were a dynamic duo.”
“We were quite a team,” Albrecht agreed. “It was just the two of us for six or seven years, but the decisions we made during that time set the pace for the program’s growth and the development of a separate Department of Counseling.”
For more information on Tarleton’s Department of Counseling, go to www.tarleton.edu/counsel.
Tarleton, founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven educational experience, marked by academic innovation and a dedication to transform today’s scholars into tomorrow’s leaders. Offering degree programs in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online to more than 13,000 students, Tarleton engages with communities through real-world learning experiences to address societal needs while maintaining its core values of integrity, leadership, tradition, civility, excellence and service.
Contact: Dr. Julie Merriman, Head of the Department of Counseling