Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (MPS)

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The Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (MPS) program is an academic-professional degree that develops spiritually-informed counselors, psychotherapists, and art therapists who are well grounded in the integration of psychological and spiritual knowledge as a holistic foundation for effective therapeutic practice. The MPS degree has been developed in response to an expressed need for formal graduate counselling training that integrates psychology and spirituality.

Prior to 2023, the program could be taken as either a 54-credit Counselling (or Core) stream, or a 66-credit Art Therapy stream. Beginning with 2023 intake, it is expected that both the Counseling and Art Therapy streams will be equally valued at 60 credits.

As with all St. Stephen's programs, the MPS is openly accessible to people from any faith tradition or worldview. The program is offered through a blend of online and in-person courses, and can easily be taken from a distance while residing in Canada.

MPS Program Updates Beginning in 2023

In September 2022, the Academic Senate of St. Stephen’s College approved in principle several changes to the MPS program (final approval will come in February 2023). These changes come after 18 months of review, evaluation, and revisioning that engaged faculty, students, alumni, and stakeholders.

Details of the program curriculum and delivery structure are available here.

Beginning in 2023, the MPS program will be revised in the following ways:

  • The Counselling and Art Therapy streams will be aligned and granted equal credit value (60 credits).
  • Students who study at a full-time pace will be able to complete the program in two years.
  • The program is designed so that it can be taken from a distance while residing in Canada. Courses will be delivered in a blended format, consisting of in-person 5-day intensives (21 credits), online semester-long offerings (18 credits), and other program elements that can be completed online (21 credits).
  • Program curriculum is being expanded to include greater attention to spiritual integration and greater capacity for professional preparation.
  • Tuition fee structure is currently being reviewed and will be aligned with the program’s two-year structure (final details regarding tuition structure will be made by February 2023).

Note: All 2023 MPS Program Changes were approved in principle at the September 2022 Academic Senate meeting; these program revisions are subject to change until they receive final approval at the February 2023 Senate meeting.

MPS Counselling Stream

The MPS Counselling Stream blends theoretical knowledge and clinical skills with particular emphasis on the individual student's ability to integrate diverse learning perspectives with their personal growth, and to implement this integration into effective clinical practice. The MPS program has been designed for those who see counselling as both an aptitude and calling, and who want to include spiritual awareness and perspectives in their therapeutic understanding as well as their skills development.

The MPS Counselling program offers a blend of academic coursework with supervised clinical experience in community settings. Students complete a minimum of 300 hours of supervised counselling training. Personal therapy and/or Spiritual Direction is also a component of the program to allow for students' exploration of their professional and spiritual development, and of personal issues that may arise.

MPS Art Therapy stream

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The MPS Art Therapy program enables students to develop competence in the delivery of art therapy as well as recognize the inherently spiritual nature of creative practice. Application and program requirements for this stream differ from the Counselling stream. However, both streams blend theoretical knowledge and clinical skills with particular emphasis on the individual student's ability to integrate diverse learning perspectives with their personal growth, and to implement this integration into effective clinical practice. Since 2008, St. Stephen’s Art Therapy programs have met the Educational Standards of the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) and we are actively working to ensure the new 2023 program meets this same standard.

The MPS Art Therapy program offers a blend of academic course work, arts-based course work, and experience in community settings. Students complete a minimum of 300 hours of supervised counselling training. Clinical supervision fees will apply. These fees will vary depending on required supervisory credentials. While every effort will be made to provide cost equity in terms of supervision fees, those in the Art Therapy stream may incur additional costs. Personal therapy and/or Spiritual Direction is also a component of the program to allow for students' exploration of their professional and spiritual development, and of personal issues that may arise.

MPS Learning Objectives

The primary educational goals for the MPS degree include:

  • Developing a mature professional identity as a psychotherapist,
  • Developing competence in the delivery of counselling and psychotherapy by understanding counselling history, theory, and intervention, and applying these to counselling practice,
  • Integrating psychotherapy and spirituality into professional practice;
  • Growing in capacity for critical reflective practice;
  • Approaching diverse lived experiences with humility; and
  • Engaging in an ongoing process of spiritual discovery.

Additionally, for those who choose the Art Therapy Stream, there are two additional educational goals:

  • Developing competence in the delivery of art therapy by understanding art therapy history, theory, and intervention, and applying both of these to art therapy practice; and
  • Recognizing the inherently spiritual nature of creative practice.

Length of Program

Beginning in 2023, students taking a full course load can complete the MPS in two years, though some may desire to take three or more years. Students must complete all requirements within seven years from the date on which they register in the program.

After Graduation

Graduates of the MPS program go on to work in contexts of professional counselling, psychotherapy, and/or art therapy, spiritual care, chaplaincy, pastoral counselling, and other therapeutic and ministry contexts. Graduates may apply to become professional, certified and registered members of many professional counselling, psychotherapy, and art therapy associations (including CCPA and CATA) and are prepared to qualify for provincial regulatory colleges including the CRPO (College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario).

St. Stephen's has designed the MPS degree program so that it can assist students in acquiring professional counselling credentials. Although the MPS degree curriculum is designed to prepare students for professional registration/licensing, please note that students are not guaranteed licensure or professional registration upon graduation. It is the student's responsibility, in consultation with MPS department staff and faculty, to ensure that their course and practicum work meets the requirements for the licensing or registration body relevant to the jurisdiction in which they intend to practice. The program does not, however, meet requirements to pursue registration as a psychologist in Alberta.

General Program Information

Incoming students can expect to take their first course in early June of their starting year.

Beginning 2023: MPS (Counselling and Art Therapy) Program Requirements (60 Credits)
Details of the proposed program curriculum and delivery structure are available here.
Pre-2023 MPS Core Stream Program Requirements (54 Credits)
Required Courses (39 Credits) Credits
SSC579 Graduate Academic Skills 3
PPSYC581 Intro to Psychotherapy and Spirituality 3
PPSYC585 Basic Psychotherapy Skills 3
PPSYC583 Professional Ethics for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Care 3
Research course: SSC5710 Inquiry, Research and Evaluation 3
PPSYC584 Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy (online) 3
PPSYC5869 Systems of Psychotherapy Skills 3
Theology course: choice of SSC511 Intro to Theology, or SSC5540 Spirituality: From Contemplation to Action 3
SSC589 Theological Reflection in Professional Practice: An Introduction 3
Development course: choice of PPSYC587 Life Span Development, or PPSYC5896 Spiritually-Informed Developmental Psychology 3
PPSYC5812 Psychopathology 3
PPSYC5870 Counselling Practicum 6
Electives (6 credits)
Two 3-credit counselling electives in areas of student interest or as required by the student's desired Professional Association. Electives are to be selected in consultation with the Department Chair. 6

THESIS or CAPSTONE PROJECT (9 credits)

THESIS

Prerequisite: 'Thesis or Capstone' Seminar, and permission of Department Chair. The thesis is an option for students who can demonstrate their readiness and ability to work independently after advisement. The thesis is an extended piece of scholarly research, largely conducted independently, along with an appropriately credentialed supervisor. It is usually between 100-150 pages in length, and summarizes a student's research of a stated question. The thesis integrates an introduction, a thorough literature review, explication of methodology, data presentation and analysis, and a summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendations. It is intended to address not only the candidate's research interest, but to make a contribution to the body of knowledge in that field. Research must be within the field of a student's professional interest. Upon approval of the thesis proposal, students pay the thesis fee.

CAPSTONE PROJECT

Prerequisite: 'Thesis or Capstone' Seminar. MPS students have the option of completing a capstone project instead of a thesis. See Capstone Project in Psychotherapy [PPSYC5892] course description for prerequisites and details. Students must attend the 'Thesis or Capstone' seminar (non-credit, half-day) prior to considering the capstone project option. Students meeting the pre-requisites register and pay a 9-credit course fee. [Students re-taking the Capstone Project course pay tuition equivalent to 6 credits if they did not receive a refund for the previous session.]

THERAPY (0 credit, co-requisite)

40 hours of personal therapy with a certified/registered counselling therapist or psychotherapist is considered a minimum during the program in order to provide an opportunity for students to address personal issues as they relate to their professional development as a counselling therapist or art therapist. A form must be completed by the therapist, stating dates the therapy took place, whether this was individual or group therapy, and the number of hours provided. This form must be submitted to the Clinical Director for approval.

OPTIONS EQUIVALENT TO CREDIT

The following options are considered equivalent to credit in the MPS Core Program. Students must consult with a Department Chair prior to applying for equivalency; acceptance of equivalencies will be in accordance with program and course requirements, and will be at the discretion of the Department Chair. Equivalencies granted for work done prior to entry into the MPS program will apply to work no older than five years. Original certificate of completion must be presented to the Registrar's Office.

Academic Work Equivalency
One Unit Clinical Psychospiritual Education (CPE) 6 Credits [one MPS elective and one of: SSC511 Intro Theology, or SSC5540 Spirituality]
Spiritual Direction Programs (I & II) (eg. Jubilee Programs, Presence Program at PRC) 3 Credits [elective]
Pre-2023 MPS Art Therapy Specialization Program Requirements (66 Credits)
Required Courses (39 Credits) Credits
SSC579 Graduate Academic Skills 3
PPSYC581 Intro to Psychotherapy and Spirituality 3
PPSYC585 Basic Psychotherapy Skills 3
PPSYC583 Professional Ethics for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Care 3
Research course: SSC5710 Inquiry, Research and Evaluation 3
PPSYC584 Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy (online) 3
PPSYC5869 Systems of Psychotherapy Skills 3
Theology course: choice of SSC511 Intro to Theology, or SSC5540 Spirituality: From Contemplation to Action 3
SSC589 Theological Reflection in Professional Practice: An Introduction 3
Development course: choice of PPSYC587 Life Span Development, or PPSYC5896 Spiritually-Informed Developmental Psychology 3
PPSYC5812 Psychopathology 3
PPSYC5878 Counselling Practicum (Art Therapy) 6
Art Therapy Courses (18 credits)
PPSYC5841 Introduction to Art Therapy: Historical and Theoretical Foundations 3
PPSYC5830 Theories and Art Therapy Studio Training Group One 3
PPSYC5833 Theories and Art Therapy Studio Training Group Two 3
PPSYC5880 Professional Issues in Art Therapy: Group, Family, and Diversity 3
PPSYC5890 Special Topics in Art Therapy 3
One course focused on Studio Art Therapy or Expressive Art Therapy; course may be a graduate or undergraduate level, and is to be selected in consultation with Department Chair 3

THESIS or CAPSTONE PROJECT (9 credits)

THESIS

Prerequisite: 'Thesis or Capstone' Seminar, and permission of Department Chair The thesis is an option for students who can demonstrate their readiness and ability to work independently after advisement. The thesis is an extended piece of scholarly research, largely conducted independently, along with an appropriately credentialed supervisor. It is usually between 100-150 pages in length, and summarizes a student's research of a stated question. The thesis integrates an introduction, a thorough literature review, explication of methodology, data presentation and analysis, and a summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendations. It is intended to address not only the candidate's research interest, but to make a contribution to the body of knowledge in that field. Research must be within the field of a student's professional interest. Students must attend the 'Thesis or Capstone' seminar (non-credit, half-day) prior to considering the thesis option. Upon approval of the thesis proposal, students will pay a thesis fee.

CAPSTONE PROJECT

Prerequisite: 'Thesis or Capstone' Seminar MPS-AT students have the option of completing a capstone project instead of a thesis. See Capstone Project in Psychotherapy (Art Therapy) [PPSYC5893] course description for pre-requisites and details. Students must attend the 'Thesis or Capstone' seminar (non-credit, half-day) prior to considering the capstone project option. Students meeting the pre-requisites register and pay a 9-credit course fee. [Students retaking the Capstone Project course pay tuition equivalent to 6 credits if they did not receive a refund for the previous session.]

THERAPY (0 credit, co-requisite)

40 hours of personal therapy with a certified/registered counselling therapist or psychotherapist is considered a minimum during the program in order to provide an opportunity for students to address personal issues as they relate to their professional development as a counselling therapist or art therapist. A form must be completed by the therapist, stating dates the therapy took place, whether this was individual or group therapy, and the number of hours provided. This form must be submitted to the Clinical Director for approval.

MPS Admission Requirements
  1. Baccalaureate Degree from an institution of higher education approved by a Canadian provincial authority, or the demonstrated educational equivalent, in the area of psychology, theology, fine arts, counselling, social work, or the humanities and human sciences. Grade average minimum must be 72%/B/3.0 during last 60 credits of course weight. Applicants who possess a Baccalaureate Degree in an unrelated area should consult with the Department Chair. Applicants who hold a degree other than psychology must have either completed two undergraduate psychology courses, or, if they are offered admission to the program, must complete as co-requisites two undergraduate psychology courses (introductory/overview) within the first year of the program.
  2. The academic ability to engage in graduate education; academic background in counselling and/or some experience in a helping role are desirable.
  3. Those wishing to pursue the art therapy specialization will need background experience in the fine arts, studio art, and the artistic creative process.
  4. Evidence of commitment and ability to integrate spiritually-informed training into professional practice.
  5. Language Requirements: All applicants must be proficient in English prior to admission. Proficiency is demonstrated by either (a) possession of a prior degree where the primary language of instruction was English, (b) demonstration of sufficient coursework completed in English, or (c) a satisfactory score on an approved English language examination (either TOEFL iBT, IELTS, CAEL, or PTE Academic). For full details, see the “English Language Proficiency” section of the St. Stephen’s College Academic Calendar.

Application deadline:

February 1 for Canadian and Permanent Resident applicants. November 1 for international applicants and applicants applying for a Baccalaureate equivalency review (equivalency fee $225); if equivalency is granted, applicants then pay the normal application fee.

Interview:

Applicants will attend an admission interview as part of the application process. Intake interviews will reflect on the applicant's learning goals and determine the applicant's appropriateness for admission to the program.

Orientation and first core course:

Upon admission, students are expected to register for the St. Stephen's College Orientation Day (in early June). One of the required courses, Intro to Psychotherapy and Spirituality, takes place Monday through Friday immediately following Orientation Day.

Examples of Practicum Partners

The following are examples of sites in which St. Stephen's students have secured practicum placements in the past. Please note that sites change over time and are subject to placement availability:

Non-Profit Organization Description
Abbott School An inclusive learning community that creates a trauma sensitive environment that provides a safe place for learning and promotes academic achievement.
Actionmarguerite (St. Boniface) - Manitoba A community-based, non-profit corporation dedicated to serving the elderly and persons with complex care needs by delivering care and programs in the Winnipeg area.
ASSIST Community Services Cetre Provides diversified services to Canadian immigrants and their families, helping them to integrate into mainstream society and actively contribute.
Body and Soul Counselling and Consulting Services Ltd. Counselling and consulting services specializing in drama-therapy.
Boyle Street Community Centre (ArtSpace)

A non-profit Edmonton agency which assists individuals and families challenged by homelessness and poverty.

Calgary Catholic School Board
Canadian Mental Health Association (Kootenays) - British Columbia A nation-wide, voluntary organization that promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.
CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Delivers innovative mental health services for infants, children, adolescents and their families and is an effective advocate for children's mental health.
Centre High Campus A blended-learning campus focused on preparing students for post-secondary studies and/or the world of work.
Chrysalis Provides personalized services to assist individuals with disabilities achieve their employment, volunteer and recreation goals.
Community Counselling Centre Guides and facilitates clients through the process of healthy healing and growth, specializing in a relational, client focused approach to counselling.
Cornerstone Counselling Provides professional counselling services to children, families, and individuals in Edmonton believing that all those who need help, irrespective of faith, cree, race, gender, lifestyle, or financial ability have access to that help.
Creative Works Studio (St. Michael's Hospital) - Ontario Provides a fully-equipped, safe and accepting community-based arts studio for people living with sever and persistent mental illness and/or addictions.
EPSB: Inclusive Learning Provides inclusive learning strategies and support through School Service teams, in consultation with staff in schools, to understand how to best meet the unique needs of a student or groups of students.
Excel Society - Grand Manor Supporting and advocating for people with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities in both Edmonton and Calgary. Grand Manor supports clients with health care needs with a risk of homelessness.
Families First Society - Fort Saskatchewan Serving families through early childhood development, parenting programs and family support.
Family and Community Services Spruce Grove Providing locally-driven, preventative, social initiatives to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and the community. The programs enable people of all ages to improve their quality of life and their ability to prevent and/or deal with crisis situations should they arise.
Family Services of Greater Vancouver A community-based not-for-profit organization that provides counselling and other essential services to the most vulnerable people in their community.
Fraser Health Authority (South Fraser Eating Disorder Clinic) - British Columbia Providing a range of services in a safe and supportive environment to both youth and adults, and their families, who are dealing with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
Fresh Start - Edmonton Catholic School Board Student centered programs for high school students who are not attending a regular high school and may need a smaller site, flexible schedule with a self-directed delivery.
Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital A health-care facility unique to Alberta, devoted primarily to high-level rehabilitation care of both adults (including the elderly) and children.
Families First Society - Fort Saskatchewan Serving families through early childhood development, parenting programs and family support.
Highlands School An Arts Core School, providing students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge of curricular outcomes through a variety of creative mediums.
HIV Edmonton Dedicated to making life better for people living with, or affected by HIV and AIDS.
iHuman Youth Society Working with traumatized youth who exhibit high-risk lifestyles; promoting their reintegration in the community through social support, engagement and outreach programs.
Jericho Counselling - British Columbia Providing counselling services that establishes warm, compassionate, and therapeutic relationship in which the client's experience is understood, respected, and validated.
Jewish Family Services Providing various services including counselling, to all people regardless of culture or faith
Little Warriors - Be Brave Ranch A specialized, trauma-informed evidence based, treatment centre focused on helping children who have been sexually abused, as well as their families.
Lurana Shelter Society Offering services including safe refuge and life changing services to women and children who were victims of domestic violence in the community.
Matheson Seniors Housing Providing affordable housing to low income seniors who are capable of independent living.
Mercy Counselling A psychological counselling and assessment service for the greater Edmonton area and Wetaskiwin.
Mustard Seed Helping to meet the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing and acceptance for men and women experiencing poverty, and works with them to find sustainable housing and employment.
Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre Working with families to help them reach their full potential and to make Edmonton's communities stronger and more vibrant.
Parkinson Alberta Helping to support Albertans affected by Parkinson disease through support services, education, advocacy and funds for research.
Providence Renewal Centre An ecumenical retreat and conference centre.
River's Edge Counselling Centre Committed to providing counselling and psychological services to individuals, couples and families from a holistic perspective that helps people live their lives with a greater sense of purpose, peace, connection to others and understanding of self.
Robertson Wesley United Church Providing art therapy to the congregation and surrounding community.
Saffron Centre Providing counselling services to persons who have suffered from sexual assault, abuse and sexual violence, as well as advocacy and education regarding sexual assault, abuse and sexual violence.
SAIF Socitey Provides services to those who have experience and/or witnessed family violence or abuse.
Schizophrenia Society of Alberta Working towards improving the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis through education, support programs, public policy and research.
St. Basil / St. Boniface Providing support to students through Art Therapy.
Surrey Hospice Society A volunteer based, non-profit organization offering support for those facing an end-of-life experience, as well as grief programs for children, teens, and adults.
The Family Centre Believes that, with the right opportunities and tools, people can make choices that lead to success. They work to strengthen family wellness and build community capacity through innovative services and collaborative partnerships to engage the communities most vulnerable families in caring for their children.
The Pride Centre of Edmonton Offering a wide range of programs such as support groups, social events, and educational seminars to help improve the social, mental, and physical health of the LGBTQ community.
The Salvation Army Provides life-changing social services and programs to those in need.
Victoria School of the Arts Providing support to the students through Art Therapy.
Welling Centre A holistic health clinic offering psychological and other mental health services, message therapy, homeopathy, and more.
Winnifred Stewart Association Helping to facilitate meaningful relationships in order to build natural supports for individuals with disabilities so they can actualize their goals and dreams.

**Note: Students in the MPS program do not qualify for government student loans. For more information, see the SSC Academic Calendar.

**Note: The Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality degree is conferred by St. Stephen's College, not by the University of Alberta. For more information, see our About Graduate Studies at SSC and Institutional Charter pages.

**Note: All 2023 MPS Program Changes were approved in principle at the September 2022 Academic Senate meeting; these program revisions are subject to change until they receive final approval at the February 2023 Senate meeting.

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