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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 clinical competencies in implementing evidence-based rehabilitation services to people with serious mental illness.

Addictions 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.

Behavioral Health Counseling Faculty

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News & Events


The study of psychiatric rehabilitation has been an important topic among mental health professionals recently. Predicated on skills development, psychiatric rehabilitation aims to stretch the limits of typical medication intervention treatment programs, and instead focuses on the patients holistically. One proponent of such treatment is Veronica Carey, PhD, an assistant clinical professor in the Behavioral Health Counseling department at the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

As Chair of the Academy of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery within the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, one of the largest psychiatric rehabilitation associations in the country, Carey hopes to use the upcoming Recovery Workforce Summit at the Philadelphia Convention Center as a source of training and development for the psychiatric rehabilitation workforce.

The Recovery Workforce Summit will begin on June 1, 2015 and will consist of a three day long mix of speakers, workshops, live trainings, and educational seminars. Guest speaking sessions will be held in a TED Talk format, educating professionals on pressing issues facing psychiatric rehabilitation workers today. As chair, Carey will overlook the entire program, coordinate guest speakers, and provide a foundation of education for the entire weekend. “Our main goal is to enhance workforce skill-set through interpersonal and engagement skills, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral training, supporting education, direct skills teaching, and documentation,” explained Carey.  “These are all things people need to be competent to work within the psychiatric rehabilitation program.” Since federal and state governments require mental health professionals to be competent in psychiatric rehabilitation principles, Carey hopes that the Academy and the Summit in Philadelphia will act as the source for that education.   

Psychiatric rehabilitation is aligned with the basic principles of mental health counseling but differs in several significant ways. Historically, patients with mental health disorders were placed on a drug program over an extended period of time, with the hope that the specific drug will counteract the mental health disorder. According to Carey, “Psychiatric rehabilitation goes further by focusing on living, learning, working, and socializing”. These four key areas act as a foundation for improving the person as a whole. “It is crucial for professionals to understand functionality, which means skills, resources, and support,” said Carey.

Psychiatric rehabilitation is growing in importance within the mental health community. Not only is it being recognized nationally, but students in the Behavioral Health Counseling program at the College also test their theory skills in practice, by participating in Project H.O.M.E. This program teaches students to use the principles of psychiatric rehabilitation with actual patients through a fundamental course in the program. Students are assigned “buddies” or actual patients recovering from mental health issues. The students apply what they learned in the classroom to practice throughout the term. “We are also trying to encourage participation from students,” added Carey. “Drexel is also working with Rutgers University, Boston University, and the University of Illinois-Chicago to participate in the upcoming summit”.

Carey has also made an effort for international education. Recently, Carey visited Karachi, Pakistan to treat local mental health professionals on the basics of psychiatric rehabilitation. Although Pakistan has made strides in the area of mental health counseling, it is still very much a clinical based system. Carey hopes that her expertise in the field will train workers in Pakistan to better understand the effectiveness of psychiatric rehabilitation.

As one of the leaders in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation, Carey is working tirelessly to bring her expertise to the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Summit.

Interested faculty, staff, and students are also encouraged to attend the Summit. To learn more about or to register for the program, click here.


If you’ve ever seen the movie Good Will Hunting, you know Matt Damon’s title character, Will Hunting, is a tough cookie to crack.  Through the movie, we watch as psychologist Sean Maguire, played by the late Robin Williams, slowly gains Will’s trust and helps him turn his life around.  But how did he do it?   

On January 22, 2015, Robert Chapman, PhD, an associate clinical professor in the Behavioral Health Counseling department, showed us exactly how.  In his presentation, entitled “Profiling the Effective Counselor, a Look Inside the Person Who Provides the Counseling,” Chapman discussed with the students and alumni in attendance how to be a competent and compelling counselor using clips of poignant scenes from Good Will Hunting to illustrate his points. 

A very important point that Chapman made is that counselors are people first and counselors second and must be authentic individuals.  “Effective counseling takes place when the person who is the counselor connects with the person who is the client, that is when the magic in counseling happens,” said Chapman. “Thirty percent of the outcome of counseling, effective counseling or ineffective counseling, can be attributed to the relationship that develops between the person who is receiving the service and the person who provides the service.  In other words, if I like you, if I trust you, if I believe you’re listening to me, if I believe you’re concerned about me, I am going to work harder, I’m going to pay closer attention, and I’m going to be much more likely to benefit from whatever the counseling is.”  

This is apparent in Good Will Hunting.  Chapman played several clips showing the evolution of Will and Sean’s relationship and how much more effective the counseling became once Will began to trust Sean and truly believe that he was concerned for him.

Cristine Marchetti, ’15 said “This presentation helped reaffirm what I already thought about being a counselor and already working in the field: not focusing so much on technique and rather just continuing that therapeutic alliance with whoever I work with. “

To view Chapman’s presentation, please visit The Behavioral Health Counseling department aims to hold two colloquia per term, the next is tentatively scheduled for February.  


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

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