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Behavioral Health Department

Hands-on Training, Real World Experience

Clinically experienced faculty, simulation labs and co-operative employment provide unparalleled opportunities for students to learn and excel in the exciting field of behavioral health.

Behavioral Health Counseling Department

Located at the dynamic Center City Health Sciences Campus, complete with a clinical skills simulation lab, the Behavioral Health Counseling major responds to a growing national need for competent mental health and addictions treatment professionals.

Our innovative courses integrate biological, psychological, and social sciences with emerging treatment technologies to offer an unparalleled undergraduate education for those interested in the helping professions. Our clinically experienced faculty and co-operative employment opportunities combine to offer active, real-world learning experiences that give you a head start in pursuing a behavioral health care career.

The advanced skills-based “hands-on” training provided in this Bachelor of Science degree major far exceeds that found at most other universities. Students may enter the workforce well-prepared immediately upon graduation or go on to graduate school, knowing that the quality of their education is well-recognized by leading universities throughout the United States.


Students interested in the Behavioral Health Counseling major can choose from a variety of program options including full-time or part-time study, co-operative work experience, or two minor programs of study.

Entering freshmen take courses in the humanities and social sciences, as well as biological sciences, writing, and math in their first and second years along with introductory courses in the Behavioral Health Counseling major. You can read about specific behavioral health counseling courses in the course description section.

Bachelor's Full Time
For freshman and transfer students dedicated to full time study, this option is much more specific than traditional undergraduate majors in preparing students for careers in behavioral health care treatment settings or for acceptance into master's and doctoral degree programs in a variety of behavioral healthcare disciplines.

Saturday Scholars
Balance the challenges of education, work, and family life and complete your Bachelor of Science degree in the accelerated Behavioral Health Counseling major entirely on Saturdays.

Certificate in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counseling Minor
This minor provides students with an essential focus on current best-practice approaches in counseling interventions aimed at assisting people to recover from substance use disorders.

Addictions Counseling Minor
This minor provides students with an essential focus on clinical competencies in implementing evidence-based rehabilitation services to people with serious mental illness.

Behavioral Health Counseling Faculty

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News & Events


Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s the title of the one-day conference scheduled to take place on November 8, 2014 in Behrakis Grand Hall on Drexel’s University City Main Campus. The conference, complete with invitational speakers and networking opportunities, will explore the ways in which we look at, study, and treat issues surrounding  autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The conference was made possible through a grant from the National Institutes of Health Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (NIH/AHRQ). Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder is also sponsored by the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, and Drexel University Online.

Papadakis Corner

The purpose of the conference is to provide the health care community with an opportunity to discuss and co-create solutions to the problems associated with the provision of medical and nursing care to people with ASD who require treatments in a variety of settings. Attendees will define and describe the ideal environmental, behavioral, and/or individual supports during the provision of medical care to people with ASD; barriers to the delivery of integrated care in emergency departments and in-patient acute care settings; and technology or information system improvements needed to eliminate the barriers to inter-professional communication, across acute care settings.

One of the highly anticipated presentations, Emergency Medicine and ASD: Addressing Medical Needs, Conducting Research, and Improving Care Services, will focus on bringing the core characteristics of ASD into the arena of the emergency medicine department. This presentation will be led by Romy Nocera, PhD, a research assistant professor and Clinical Research Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Drexel College of Medicine. Nocera will discuss how a majority of persons with ASD have a heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli such as lights, noises, touch, and may even have a higher than average pain tolerance. Nocera says, “All of that is going to affect their experience in the emergency department.” Nocera will also explain how many emergency department personnel are thrown into inherently chaotic situations without the tools or skills necessary to interact with unique patients like those living with ASD. She agrees that challenges are both infrastructural and training oriented but that the most difficult aspect of these situations to remedy is that of the emergency room infrastructure, since it must accommodate such a large and diverse array of patients.

According to Ellen Giarelli, PhD, an associate professor of Nursing at the College of Nursing and Health professions, the autism literature will soon begin to cover more of the care and treatment of those with ASD. Giarelli is the co-editor of one major addition to the growing literature. Her book, Integrated Health Care for People with ASD: Interdisciplinary Planning and Delivery of Care, will be published in 2015 by Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd. Kathleen Fisher, a professor at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, is the second co-editor. Until now, most autism texts have been directed toward parents and special educators.

Attendees of Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with ASD are encouraged to register as soon as possible. For those individuals who cannot attend the conference in-person, the day’s events will be accessible via synchronous webinar. The conference will specifically target healthcare professionals and students in nursing, medicine, dentistry, physical and occupational therapies, health counseling, health education, and other health-related professionals to discuss integrated care for people living with ASD. Panelists will present clinical and theoretical concepts followed by discussion and open forums to explore how concepts can be translated to clinical settings to improve patient care and generate creative problem-solving approaches to adapting patient assessment protocols, adapting patient teaching and treatment protocols, and to modifying environmental factors to promote optimal therapeutic milieus. After the conference, discussion will be ongoing on social networks and webpages and the sharing of ideas, research information, and access to conference materials will continue!

By Mahmoud Shurbaji ‘15


Stella Volpe, PhD, Chair of the Nutrition Sciences Department, was quoted in a Shape magazine article on June 9 about Vitamin D and athletic performance.

The “Don’t Wash Your Chicken” food safety campaign, co-developed by Jennifer Nasser, PhD, of the Nutrition Sciences Department along with Drexel doctoral candidates Shauna Henley and Pat Borrusso, was mentioned in a post on and in an article, both on June 16.

Gloria Donnelly, PhD, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in a Houston Chronicle article on June 17 about the best states for nurses.

A Philadelphia Inquirer article noted The College of Nursing and Health Professions for using a virtual patient program to reinforce classroom training on geriatric care.

Alison Ventura,PhD, an assistant professor in the Nutrition Sciences Department, was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article regarding Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and white potatoes.

Patricia Gerrity, PhD, Associate Dean for Community Programs and Executive Director of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Center, was quoted in this June 25th Philadelphia Inquirer article that remarks on the health center’s innovative model of care.

Emily Duffy, a behavioral health consultant at the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Family Health Services of Drexel University, was quoted in a article about 12-step recovery programs on June 29.


The College’s Behavioral Health Counseling Program presented its second colloquium in late May, this time focusing on collegiate alcohol use. Robert Chapman, PhD, an associate clinical professor and the Associate Director of the Behavioral Health Counseling Department, delivered an informative and entertaining talk for attendees in the Geary Auditorium of the New College Building.

Chapman’s presentation addressed the question, “Is collegiate drinking the problem or is it the drinking ‘some’ collegians do that should be the dominant focus of concern?” After outlining the history of collegiate drinking and the critical moments when noticeable issues began to arise, Chapman discussed the formation of the National Institute on Alochol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the first report on collegiate drinking issued by the NIAAA in 1976, shortly after its inception. Per the report, this was the first time that collegiate drinking was truly put on the map of popular university issues that already included retention, attrition, and performance.

In 1989, the first national grassroots effort to bring higher education professionals together around prevention issues was born. For the first time, the term “binge drinking” was defined in reference to collegiate drinking in male and female students. The Harvard School of Public Health later became one of the first to take a good look at collegiate binge drinking in the 1990s. According to Chapman, students in Greek life organizations and athletics are members of the two collegiate groups most at risk for developing negative drinking behaviors.

Chapman explained that everyone in a university has a role to play when it comes to alcohol issues. However, collegiate drinking too often becomes a problem-focused approach. A better focus, according to Chapman, is to harness the approximately 80% of students who are engaging in safe behaviors rather than attack the roughly 20% who are not. He has also found key differences between first year college students and the rest of the college population. For first year students, “a good time” typically takes place in locations where they can find alcohol and attend parties. However, after examining third and fourth year students, Chapman saw a reduction in that response; they would rather pay more for better drinks as well as a better environment. He found that these more mature students see things a bit differently as compared to their first year counterparts.

The cycle, he says, starts much earlier than college. High school aged kids, as Chapman explained, come to college with expectations of what drinking and their social lives will be like. They then experience things for themselves and form a personal understanding. He called this the “Aging out Phenomenon.” Chapman proposes the use of cost/benefit analyses to help students change their behavior. In his prior positions, Chapman would have students look at whether the pros of drinking outweighed the cons. Students would then be able to decide for themselves whether or not engaging in negative drinking behaviors was smart and beneficial to them.

Chapman has worked professionally in the alcohol and other drug field for more than 35 years. From 1974 through 1988, he was involved in direct treatment, delivering individual and group counseling services, providing clinical supervision and conducting training consulting. From 1988 to 2006 he coordinated the Alcohol and Other Drug Program at LaSalle University, where he was associate faculty in the M.A. program in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, coordinating its addictions concentration. His areas of professional interest include motivational interviewing, brief alcohol screening, and intervention for college students; harm reduction strategies in the treatment of substance use disorders; and innovative ways to motivate student change.
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