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NVU Advances Mental Health and Addiction Counseling Initiatives in Vermont and Beyond

Two new programs put Northern Vermont University at the forefront of mental health and substance use disorder counseling initiatives in Vermont. A new master’s degree program and the housing of a statewide cooperative for improving practice will enhance the mental health and addiction counseling landscape in Vermont and beyond.

The initiatives offer students a new way to pursue an NVU master’s degree in counseling, support workforce development at NVU and around Vermont, and enrich services for consumers.

NVU has taken over the long-established master of science degree program in clinical mental health counseling which, since 2001, has been offered through Southern New Hampshire University. The program originated at Burlington’s Trinity College, which has since closed. Applications are being accepted for the first NVU class.

“This master’s degree program is a thriving and established program with strong Vermont roots,” NVU President Elaine Collins says. “In a sense, the program is coming home to Vermont.”

In a separate agreement, NVU has partnered with the Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement and Innovation (VCPI), a statewide organization that provides professional and workforce development in the mental health and addictions counseling field. The partnership will offer professional development and networking opportunities to NVU faculty and potentially internship and job options to students.

“Together, these initiatives set Northern Vermont University at the forefront for educating mental health care providers and counselors in Vermont,” Collins says.

NVU’s new mental health counseling program features a face-to-face cohort model that allows students in five states to continue to work as they pursue their degree. Students meet for classes one weekend a month in Chittenden County; Manchester, New Hampshire; Brunswick, Maine; Milwaukee and Wausau, Wisconsin; and Anchorage, Alaska. The curriculum includes online activities, practicums and internships.

The program’s integrated approach to mental health and substance use disorder counseling fits well with NVU-Johnson’s counseling program, which offers a Master of Arts degree in counseling. NVU will continue to offer degrees through both delivery models, meeting the needs of those pursuing their master’s in mental health counseling.

“We’re joining a really terrific counseling program at Northern Vermont University. We will be complementing what they already offer, and together we will be able to offer more and grow,” says Annamarie Cioffari, who has directed the SNHU program and will continue to direct the program at NVU.

“We were looking for a place with a very well-respected counseling program and psychology department that would be able to offer personalized support to our students and recognize the value of our weekend format,” she says.

In the arrangement with VCPI, NVU faculty will have access to the cooperative’s resources, which include trainings, publications and webinars.

“The opportunity to have such close connections with the field will help faculty stay connected with emerging needs and best practices and keep up to date on the courses they should be offering,” VCPI director Karen Crowley says. “And they will have many more opportunities for interns to be placed out of those same relationships being developed.”

The cooperative, founded in 2013, has about 50 members, including organizations with practitioners as well as peer advocacy and family organizations, and state funding entities. VCPI will be based in Williston.

The partnership will increase the dialogue in the mental health field throughout Vermont.

“Members have the opportunity to feel like we’re informing the curriculum that’s being offered in schools,” Crowley says. “NVU sits at the table and hears directly from providers and clients about what is missing and what they’re hoping for. And it gives clients a voice in a way they didn’t have before,” she says. “Everybody’s in it together working it out.”

For more information about NVU’s new master of science counseling program, visit, email, or call 800.730.5542. For more information about VCPI, go to