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Counselor Education doctoral program receives award for innovation

Published: November 8, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s Counselor Education doctoral program was recently honored with the Innovative Counselor Education Program Award by the North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NCACES).

NCACES is a regional chapter of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) and is comprised of the 13 states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. 

This award is given in recognition of an outstanding, innovative, and/or unique doctoral program in counselor education at an institution in the North Central Region. Dr. Christine Suniti Bhat, chair of the Counseling and Higher Education Department within The Patton College of Education, accepted the award on behalf of the program at the ACES conference in Atlanta in October.

“We are delighted to be recognized with this award,” said Dr. Sara R. Helfrich, interim dean of The Patton College. “OHIO’s Counselor Education program is committed to innovation and has demonstrated this in many ways, including its focus on inclusivity, the collaborative work achieved with federal grants, and its diverse international student base that continues to effect change globally.”

Within the past seven years, the Counselor Education program faculty, in collaboration with other departments or organizations, were awarded four federal grants totaling approximately $5 million – two from the Health Resources Services Administration focused on workforce expansion in behavioral health, one from the National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Institute, and one from the Department of Education in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education.

In addition, the doctoral program has an international reputation, drawing students from countries including Australia, Botswana, China, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Turkey. Graduates of the program have often returned to their home countries to build and strengthen the international counseling profession. For example, alumna Dr. Shih-Hua Chang has been researching the application of Bowenian theory to college student counseling in Taiwan, and alumna Dr. Bilge Sulak has been exploring non-suicidal self-injury in Turkey. Current students are also engaging in international research.

Program alumnus Dr. Huan-Tang Lu, assistant professor of counselor education at Rowan University, wrote a letter of support as part of the award nomination.

“I valued the diversity of the faculty at Ohio University. As an international student from Taiwan, I felt welcomed and valued for the experiences I brought with me into the program,” he said. “I believe Ohio University is unique in having fostered an environment that helps all students thrive.”

“We believe both our master’s and doctoral programs are strong, vibrant programs, annually graduating counselors and counselor educators with a well-defined counselor identity,” Bhat said. “Each year both our doctoral and master’s graduates are consistently in high demand, which has set our post-graduate employment rate at 100 percent for the past decade.”

Two alumnae of the Counselor Education doctoral program were also recognized at the conference. Dr. Maddie Stevens was awarded the NCACES Outstanding Doctoral Student of the Year by NCACES. She is an assistant professor at Duquesne University. And Dr. Priscilla Prasath was awarded the Southern ACES Outstanding Teaching Award. She is an assistant professor at University of Texas at San Antonio.