Integration of Spirituality and Religion in Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling

The Department of Counselor Education in Fairfield's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) offers two Advanced Training Certificates:

  • Integration of Spirituality and Religion in Counseling
  • Substance Abuse Counseling


Integration of Spirituality and Religion in Counseling

This 18-credit, 6-course program is based on the 14 competencies identified by the Association of Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling, a division of the American Counseling Association. GSEAP's counseling accreditation entity, the Council on Accrediting Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), has encouraged programs to infuse and integrate these competencies into the curriculum. In addition, GSEAP students have shown a strong interest in learning more about how spirituality and religion comes into play for their clients.

The 6 required courses are:

  • CN 410 Grief & Loss Counseling: An introductory course in the exploration of conceptual models and clinical interventions related to grief and loss. The focus of this course is on developing sensitivity, knowledge, and practical skills working with grief, bereavement, and end of life issues in counseling and cross-cultural approaches. It is designed to inform students how loss is a pervasive, natural process of life and with skilled understanding and intervention can provide healing, meaning, and transformation to self and others. The impact of religious and spiritual belief systems on bereavement, grief, and loss will be covered. Family interventions and conceptualizing grief and loss from a systems perspective will be discussed. Three credits.
  • CN 533 Advanced Multicultural Counseling Strategies and Skills: This course provides in-depth opportunities for students to deepen and expand their multicultural competencies and counseling skills for working with diverse belief systems and populations. Exploration of diverse spiritual, religious, ethnic, and systemic belief systems will allow students to develop cross-cultural competencies and understanding of the impact of the cultural context on the therapeutic process. Topics included will be pedagogy of the oppressed, religious violence and trauma, refugee and immigration concerns. Three credits.
  • CN 515 Trauma and Crisis Intervention: This course addresses current theory, research, and models relevant to trauma and crisis intervention. Specific focus will be placed on understanding the role of spirituality, across cultures, in counseling children, men, women, and families. In addition, skills essential for response to trauma while working with groups will be addressed. Conceptualization from a systems perspective will be addressed. Forgiveness, hardiness, resiliency, and the dynamics of violence, religious and political, will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the role of spirituality while working with individuals and groups. An overview of the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and neurological sequelae in response to trauma and crisis will be discussed, with emphasis on skills essential for crisis intervention, including assessment of safety and security concerns, triage, lethality, mass disaster, death notification, suicide, murder, and natural disaster. In addition, models essential for the care of the caregiver will be identified. The course's instructional format will combine experiential, demonstration, and discussion methods. Active learning is essential to continued development. Three credits.
  • CN 446 Spirituality and Counseling: An introductory course in the exploration of developmental models and clinical interventions related to the interface of spirituality and counseling. The focus of this course is on developing knowledge and practical skills in working with spiritual and religious issues in counseling. Three credits.
  • CN 520 Spiritual Interventions: Tools for Competent Practice: Spiritual interventions tap into the affective domain and provide counselors and clients with the opportunity to explore their creativity, self-expression, and drive to be fully human. This course will allow counselors to learn the therapeutic benefits and process of using spiritual interventions in counseling that inform the process of healing and transformation. Interventions will include mindfulness meditation, creating mandalas, and guided imagery. Counselors will learn competencies for effective use of integrating spirituality into the counseling process, conceptualizing from a systems perspective and explore several spiritual interventions to enhance self-awareness and improve their ability to be present and attend to their clients. Three credits.
  • CN 525 Spirituality and Wellness: This course provides a holistic approach to wellness integrating mind, body, and spirit interventions into the counseling process. An overview of wellness models, assessment tools, and spiritual practices as strength resources will be explored. Students will explore lifespan and cross cultural influences on wellness. Development of wellness and prevention plans and research on health and spirituality will be a focus. Three credits.


Program Advisor

Tracey Robert, Ph.D., LPC, NCCC, is an associate professor in counselor education at Fairfield and director of clinical training. She has maintained a private practice focusing on adults and transition and clinical supervision for more than 20 years. She is past-president of the Association of Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC). After developing an institute for integrating spirituality into research and curriculum, Dr. Robert designed and developed the certificate in integrating spirituality and religion into counseling as an outcome of her research and publications in the field on spirituality and work, wellness, spiritual interventions and coping with change. Her presentations and publications on the topic include: Spirituality and Professional Collegiality in Higher Education; Integration of Spirituality Into Career Counseling for Adults: A Multicultural Issue; a podcast series for use by counselor educators and practitioners entitled Spirituality in Counseling, and the relationship between spiritual well-being and job satisfaction among adult workers. Dr. Robert holds a doctorate from Mississippi State University, a master's from Fairfield University and a bachelor's degree from Dunbarton College.

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Substance Abuse Counseling

This 18-credit, 6-course program is based on competencies established by the Connecticut Certification Board for Drug and Alcohol Counseling. Completion of these courses is required in order to sit for the certification exam that leads to licensing as a licensed or certified alcohol/drug use counselor. NOTE: Required supervised training is not provided through this program.

These courses can also be used to complete annual professional development requirements for many professionals, including licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychologists and addiction counselors.

The 6 required courses are:

  • CN 465 Introduction to Substance Abuse & Addictions: Candidates explore basic information about the history and current use and abuse of various drugs and alcohol. Topics include addiction, 12-step programs, physiological effects, FAS, COAs, and family systems, as well as culturally relevant prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies for individuals and families. Cross-referenced as FT 465. Three credits.
  • CN 466 Substance Abuse Interventions: This course uses didactic and experiential techniques to understand and facilitate interventions with substance abusers and their families. Topics include the role of motivational counseling and techniques developed by the Johnson Institute. (Prerequisite: CN 465 or a basic understanding of the addictions field.) Three credits.
  • CN 565 Substance Abuse and the Family: This course brings together substance abuse studies and family systems approaches. Students are presented with a knowledge base of skills and methods for assessing and treating family systems. The course identifies the addictive and intergenerational patterns within families. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the theoretical frameworks to understand and create interventions for alcoholic and substance-abusing family systems. Relational clinical models including developmental, systemic, solution-focused, and narrative approaches are reviewed and evaluated. The course examines the history and methods of treatment models. Issues of social justice are emphasized in a review of socio-cultural and social policy that influence family behaviors and treatment. Cross-referenced as FT 566. (Prerequisites: CN 465) Three credits.
  • CN 555 Substance Abuse Counseling: Skills & Strategies: This course focuses on learning, practice and developing counseling skills and strategies as it relates to substance abuse counseling. An overview of assessment, treatment planning, relapse prevention and recovery will be explored. The course addresses theories that are fundamental to addiction counseling with emphasis on the relationship between theory and the practice of effective skills. Candidates will reflect on their roles as counselors and define the qualities, knowledge and essential skills to becoming a competent, ethical, culturally aware counselor in training specific to the treatment of substance abuse. (Prerequisite: CN 465) Three credits.
  • CN 455 Group Work: Theory & Practice: This course focuses on the broad methodology of group work and theories and tasks in interpersonal and multicultural contexts. Candidates observe the nature of their interactions with others and enhance their knowledge about the nature of groups and the current theories and models. Understanding of group work with substance abusers will be explored. Three credits.
  • CN 557 Co-Occurring Disorders in Substance Abuse & Addictions Counseling: This course will introduce students to major concepts in the treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Students will develop an awareness of the unique challenges that face clients who are struggling with multiple diagnoses. Students will practice conducting assessments, recovery plans, counseling skills and continuum of care issues relevant to the recovery process for this special population. Combines didactic and experiential learning opportunities. (Prerequisite: CN 465) Three credits.


Program Advisor

Richard W. Madwid, MS, LPC, LADC, CCS has 27 years of experience in the mental health field working with youth, adults, families, school systems, residential care facilities, hospitals and universities providing a variety of education, prevention, early intervention and treatment services. He holds an M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Western Connecticut State University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor and a Certified Clinical Supervisor. Professor Madwid has been an adjunct professor at Fairfield University for 14 years. His teaching and clinical interests include family therapy, treatment issues of children and adolescents, addictions, community agency management and clinical supervision. Professor Madwid has researched and lectured nationally in the area of the effects of contemporary music on youth development. He has maintained a private practice throughout his career specializing in adolescents, adults and families.

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