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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.

Bachelor’s Part-time Online
For part time students interested in degree completion, this fully online program allows you to transfer up to 111 quarter credits and complete the degree in two to three years.

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


Very few individuals can gather enough experience before going to college to be absolutely sure of their chosen major, especially when following the traditional path of starting the fall after high school graduation. Health Services Administration senior, Toni Ross, is one of the few who can say that her experiences before coming to Drexel undeniably revealed the path she wanted to pursue. But Toni Ross is anything but traditional.
Ross said that what she’s interested in is rather complex. “I hope to merge my experience with emergency management and disaster preparedness with the healthcare industry. I want to guarantee that medical professionals and the community-at-large are ready for large-scale disasters and emergencies,” she stated. “My dream job would be working at a facility as an emergency planner.” You might ask where she gained the kind of knowledge that would lead her to want to do something that specific. Her answer would be, “the United States Air Force.” Ross spent 12 years in the military where her jobs included maintenance scheduler for F-16s in Saudi Arabia, graduate medical program clerkship coordinator at Travis Air Force Base and tactical operations center coordinator in Afghanistan. 
Early on in her military career, she received some great advice from her supervisor who, at the time, was having a difficult time finding a job. He said, “Listen kid, make sure you’re marketable when you get out of here. The military is going to get what it wants out of you, so you have to get what you want out of them.” Ross did some research before re-enlisting and found that the healthcare industry was poised for growth; she would be able to get a job as well as an education. That’s when her focus in the Air Force turned toward healthcare administration. Her first job out of tech school was in air medical evacuation. “It was awesome. I didn’t go on any missions. We just retrieved individuals on the ground,” she said. “I did become certified in driving a one-and-a-half ton truck and a learned how to parallel park a 24-passenger bus,” Ross pointed out. “I’m out of practice, so I wouldn’t dare try to park a bus now.” 
While deployed to Afghanistan, she coordinated and tracked 700 medical evacuation missions and 172 local and coalition patient transfers. Ross managed 10 emergency blood and medical resupply missions to forward operating locations and prepared at least 125 classified briefings for the Craig Joint Theater Hospital commander and executive staff. Her positions at Travis Air Force Base furthered her experience in healthcare administration as she coordinated medical student clinical rotations, created job position manuals, vetted executive staff, proctored privacy tests and increased facility compliance among other duties.
Ross returned home to Philadelphia after she was discharged and, needing a place to land, she moved in with her parents who were aging and needed some help. “I knew I wanted to go back to school, so I started at the Goodwin College of Professional Studies, but it didn’t work out,” she conveyed. “It’s a lot different from when I was 17 years old at Eastern University.” Because she needed a job, she started working at a non-profit organization. That’s when she found a flyer for Veterans Upward Bound. She doubted what the flyer stated, that there was a free program for veterans to go to school, so she called and got program director, Diane Sandefur on the phone. “I went into their office and met their fantastic staff. Tyrone Williams, Diane’s right hand, helped me enroll in courses there, like how to navigate college life. Then I was ready to return to Drexel,” added Ross. She met with Health Services Administration Chair Kristine Mulhorn, PhD before coming back. Mulhorn shared her belief in Ross and cautioned that pursuing a degree was one of the most selfish things a person could do. Ross took that to mean she would have to prepare those individuals who had come to solely depend on her. “I told them that I needed to do this and that they would be on their own for a little while. I’ve been here ever since,” she said. 
Ross is preparing to graduate in June and has been looking for a job. She attends different networking events and is up until late at night researching opportunities and companies. She wants to move back to California to be near her son, so that aspect sets another challenge to overcome. She’s put a lot of thought into what she wants to do. That is really helpful when looking for a job. 
“Initially, my ideal job was at FEMA. I wanted to be a liaison with local hospitals to make sure their staffs were trained for everything we plan for but don’t really think about,” she shared. That led her to thinking about being an emergency planner for a hospital or other facility. “I want to make sure they are prepared and trained for anything and everything thinking far outside the box,” Ross explained. “I want to work with the Red Kite Project developed by Drexel alumnus Zach Stone BHC ‘11. They are doing very important work in conflict management and being trauma-informed,” she noted. “If they could take that program and put it in a healthcare system or hospital to help providers and staff de-escalate situations and be prepared for various circumstances like active shooters, they would know how to respond and react instinctually.” This, in Ross’ mind, holds true for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina when she worked as a national disaster medical system liaison. She was stationed in Northern California, but she was able to help facilitate bed movement so those affected by that disaster were placed in a safer environment.
When asked if she feels like Drexel had prepared her for her future, she has very strong feelings. “Right out of the gate, my program emphasized developing leadership skills and thinking beyond your walls, boundaries and education,” Ross explained. “Drexel exposes you to many other perspectives you may never have considered.” She recounted her experience in Mulhorn’s disabilities studies class where she got the opportunity to learn about activists and advocates who happened to be handicapped. “Now I’m looking at the world from their experience,” she added.
Ross noted that within her classes, discussions around career management and reactions to real world scenarios happened often to better prepare students for entering the workforce. “My professors share themselves with every student bringing different aspects of the healthcare industry to the classroom,” she said. When asked if she had a favorite class or professor her answer was simple — all of them. 
Her previous experience in the military didn’t include clinical settings, more supporting roles, however, Ross feels it is vital for administrators to not just work in one or the other. She feels they need both because administrators are needed everywhere. “We have a saying in the Air Force — 4AO, ‘we’re in demand and we’re indispensable.'” It is a motto they all took to heart and knew that they could go anywhere and do anything. “While I was deployed in Afghanistan, I worked in a support intelligence role in a hospital. I can apply those skills in any setting,” asserted Ross. 
There are many things that both the military and Drexel taught her, but it seems that the most important thing that Health Services Administration helped her realize is that anything can be done. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a Drexel Dragon. I will make sure that I leave here and have a great impact on the community, and represent Drexel in a positive way,” articulated Ross.

Written by Roberta Perry



On January 11, US News and World Report published their 2017 Best Jobs list and 52 of the top 100 are in health care. Nurse practitioner and physician assistant are number two and three on that list with no surprise as the demand for more skilled health care professionals skyrockets. Susannah Snider, personal finance editor at U.S. News said in a press release about the jobs list, "Health care jobs often require a human element, so they can't be exported or entirely replaced by robots – at least not yet.
“Continued growth in the health care sector, low unemployment rates and high salaries make these jobs especially desirable. Plus, individuals can pursue a range of health care positions that require varying levels of skill and education," furthered Snider. While the opportunities for PAs and NPs expand practically every specialty — orthopedics, endocrinology, cardiology, pediatrics — a reported 80% of nurse practitioners choose primary care whereas a study from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) states physician assistants tend to practice outside of primary care. 
Regardless of the position a person chooses, it’s all good news for CNHP. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics cited nurse practitioner and physician assistant among the fastest growing occupations with 35% and 30% growth respectively. This expansion can be attributed to a few factors including a move to patient-centered care models and an aging population. But another reason is the expansion of coverage for an additional 20 million people through Affordable Care Act. “The ACA recognized physician assistants as an essential part of the solution to the primary care shortage by formally acknowledging them as one of the three primary care health providers,” said Patrick Auth, PhD, MS, PA-C, CNHP clinical professor and department chair. “They also committed to expanding the number of PAs by providing financial support for scholarships and loan forgiveness programs, as well as by funding the training of 600 new PAs,” he continued.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed millions of Americans to have access to insurance to pay for the cost of their health care. That meant hospitals and providers reduced their cost of indigent care.  While these figures have presented a hopeful outlook on what new health care reform may mean, one recent report has portrayed a potentially much different outcome.
The study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund revealed repealing the ACA, likely starting with the insurance premium tax credits and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility would result in a doubling in the number of uninsured Americans while having widespread economic and employment impacts. In 2019, the study predicts a loss of 2.6 million jobs nation-wide, primarily in the private sector, with around a third of them in the health care industry. Pennsylvania could see around 137,000 jobs lost. 
Elizabeth W. Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, associate professor and department chair of the doctoral nursing program and Kymberlee Montgomery, DrNP, CRNP-BC, CNE ’09, associate clinical professor and department chair of the nurse practitioner program, both suggest that it is too early to tell what any real impact will be to healthcare or employment. “The ACA also lowered Medicare spending by allowing people to enter into share savings plans with accountable care organizations where providers are reimbursed based on the quality, not the quantity, of their services,” Gonzalez said. “This emphasis on quality has resulted in significant savings, lower cost of health care for seniors, individuals with disabilities, low income families, and children. The ACA encourages a focus on the patient experience and this has led to some wonderful innovations because clinicians are being paid to focus on ways to enhance the quality of the care they provide patients,” she added. 
“The Affordable Care Act introduced patients to the role of the nurse practitioner. Patients were forced to see us for primary care — nurse practitioners provided care at a lower cost,” stated Montgomery. “Now patients want to see us because of the level of care we provided.” There are just so many unknowns where the ACA is concerned. While the current administration seems determined to repeal the law, they haven’t yet put forth a replacement that will provide affordable healthcare for those who would undoubtedly lose what they currently have. It’s uncertain whether a new law might be proposed that would guarantee that no jobs created under the ACA are lost or if patient outcomes will decline.” But both Gonzalez and Montgomery feel that advanced practice nursing will continue to be a cost effective way to deliver outstanding clinical services. While it’s tough to speculate, Montgomery thinks opportunities for nurse practitioners will continue to grow regardless. “Who knows, it might make it better for the nurse practitioner especially because we provide high-quality, comprehensive care at lower costs,” she said.

By: Roberta Perry and Kinzey Lynch `17



The Mannequin Challenge was one of the most widespread trends of the past year. As 2016 drew to a close, the CNHP marketing and communications team found a way to use the challenge to ring in the holidays with the College.
So was born the 1st Annual CNHP Holiday Challenge. Departments throughout CNHP were invited to submit their best versions of a festive Mannequin Challenge. Entrants were judged by the interim dean and associate deans of the College based on creativity, humor, and execution. The winner would be presented with a trophy for their team to display, along with bragging rights throughout 2017. It is the hope that the theme of this annual holiday contest would change. Each year the theme would reflect a popular or current trend.
Three groups entered the 2016 challenge. CNHP operations and assessment department set their submission to Christmas Vacation while Behavioral Health Counseling went for an oldie, but goodie, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. The third department and the winner of the 1st Annual CNHP Holiday Challenge was the marketing and communications team whose challenge was set to the tune It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. 
Winners and runner ups were announced before the holiday break. Be sure to enter your department in next year's Holiday Video Challenge.
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