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Counseling Awareness Month: YIEP’s Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Finds Success Among Jewish Community

April is Counseling Awareness Month. The American Counseling Association (ACA) designates April of each year as Counseling Awareness Month (CAM), a time of advocacy for the profession and celebrationof the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as theyseek to facilitate the growth and development of all people.

Bellevue University’s partnership with Yeshiva Initiatives Educational Programs (YIEP) was designed to open doors for Orthodox Jews. The customized programs, administered through the University, allow Orthodox Jews to continue their education in an environment that does not conflict with their lifestyle demands and cultural customs.

One of those programs, the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program (MSCMHC), is having tremendous success this year. The latest cohort, the eleventh cohort of the joint YIEP Bellevue University MSCMHC degree program, launched last month, represents several firsts. This is the first cohort to reach maximum enrollment and it is also the first cohort to do its entire residency on Zoom – with students spread out from Las Vegas to New York to Israel.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, who started YIEP in 2005, offering numerous Bellevue University undergraduate and graduate degrees, said every community has its mental health issues and that’s why the MSCMHC program is so important.

“Our goal was to have trained and licensed members of our community who know our culture and who speak our language that could serve Jewish people and families,” Lerner said. “Nobody wants to talk to a stranger who does not understand our nuances and our religion’s needs.”

Dr. Stephen Linenberger, coordinator for YIEP at Bellevue and director of the YIEP Masters of Educational Leadership, said YIEP and its programs, including the MSCMHC program, have had a huge impact on the Jewish community.

“From an educator’s standpoint, YIEP is important because we are serving a unique community,” Linenberger said. “We’re providing an education to, and a psychologically safe environment for, folks who may not be comfortable with the traditional college path. This means we’re able to reach a segment of the population that otherwise probably wouldn’t have many options to pursue advanced degrees.”

Linenberger added that the MSCMHC program at Bellevue University is the only Jewish Orthodox- sensitive program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) – an independent accrediting agency that assures graduate counseling programs throughout the United States and the world meet standards within the counseling profession.

Dr. Barb Daubenspeck is the Program Director for the MSCMHC program at Bellevue University. She works closely with the YIEP – particularly with Rabbi Lerner – in coordinating details of the program to best fit the group.

“The YIEP cohort students are an amazing group,” Daubenspeck said. “Many have large families, demanding jobs, and other community and personal responsibilities, yet engage with the faculty and the courses at a very high level. I personally enjoy teaching the cohort students as they are often able to articulate deep connections between the course material, their current professions, and their developing counselor identities.”

For more information, visit theyiep.com