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ODU Doctoral Counseling Program Judged Best in Nation

Old Dominion University's two-year-old doctoral program in counseling has been named the top such program in the country by the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES).

ACES is the national association that represents professors of counseling in the United States and it is a division of the American Counseling Association, the national association for counselors in the United States.

Faculty members from the ODU program, led by Danica Hays (right), director of the counseling graduate program, will accept the 2009 Robert Frank Outstanding Counselor Education Program Award Oct. 17 at the ACES 2009 Conference in San Diego.

"On behalf of our counseling program, I am very proud and excited that our program is being recognized," Hays said. "This national award honors a counselor education program that exemplifies the importance of excellence through standards and innovation."

Hays said there are approximately 110 counseling doctoral programs in the country. Fifty-five of the programs, including ODU's, are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Accreditation of universities and university programs is voluntary; however, ODU's counseling program has sought and obtained accreditation to ensure that its academic programs meet the highest standards of academics, professionals and professional associations throughout the United States, Hays said.

She added that the award recognizes the program's exceptional faculty members and their effective mentoring of students. "The mission of the Ph.D. program is to prepare students to be excellent counselors, supervisors, teachers, researchers and scholars. Our faculty is dedicated to this mission, and I think the national recognition of our program, faculty and students is a well-deserved product of this," Hays said.

Programs competing for the Robert Frank Award were evaluated by a national committee of their peers on:

• Faculty members' commitment and contributions to ACES and the counseling profession;

• Program commitment, not only to standards, but also to their improvement and development;

• Faculty members' mentoring a clear and strong counselor and/or counselor-educator identity;

• The program's influence and relationship, not only to students, but also to the university and surrounding community; and

• Unique and innovative ways to provide education and supervision of counselors and/or counselor educators.

Hays praised two of the ODU program's doctoral students, Stephanie Crockett and Julia Forman, for their roles in coordinating the awards nomination packet.

Winning the national award is especially gratifying, considering that the ODU program didn't welcome its first cohort of Ph.D. students until the spring of 2007.

"ODU and the commonwealth of Virginia are very fortunate indeed to have the premier counselor education program in the United States among its graduate programs," said William Graves, dean of the ODU Darden College of Education. "Under the leadership of Batten Professor and department chair Ted Remley, the department has attracted outstanding counselor educators to the university. He and his faculty colleagues are national leaders in their disciplines as well as outstanding scholars in their fields.

"Dr. Remley and Dr. Hays, along with other faculty members, work diligently to provide many kinds of opportunities for their students to develop professional counseling, research and leadership skills. One result of the work of the faculty is graduates of the program who can provide outstanding counseling services to individuals in need."

ODU's counseling program has experienced tremendous growth since 2007. It currently graduates 14 doctoral students per year. The program also offers approximately 20 graduate assistantships to doctoral students, which are viewed as critical to the current and future success of the program's doctoral students.

"Counseling is an important service in our society, and the focus on prevention, wellness, advocacy, and growth and development is important," Hays said. "We are dealing with tough economic times coupled with a historical prevalence of a variety of social ills: substance abuse, depression, anxiety, oppression and so on. Our community needs counseling services now more than ever."

This article was posted on: September 29, 2009

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