Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana


Master of Arts in Counseling Program Overview

Millions of individuals struggle every day with issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems and addictions. They need qualified counselors who are competent to provide the clinical help that resolves the pain. We at the Townsend Institute believe that the problem is often not the problem. That is, usually psychological and behavioral struggles are symptoms of deeper matters within the person's internal world, or their character. For example, many people suffer from trust issues, emotional detachment and shame. The struggles are the "fruit," and the character issues are the "tree."

At the Institute, we will help you deal with both the painful symptoms and with the underlying problems, both fruit and tree. We’ll train you in differential diagnostics so that you’ll know how to treat a depression driven by isolation, and also how to resolve a depression driven by guilt. We’ll show you how to relate, connect, attune, go deeper, and find solutions for the client in transformative, life-changing ways.

Our therapeutic model is based on several foundations: scriptural teachings, neuroscience and the best research-driven methods. You will understand the theory and the practical aspects at the same time. And you’ll learn the breakthrough power of relationship, authentic relationship, which is the foundation of all healing and growth.

The classroom experience at the Townsend Institute is innovative, unique and highly effective. It will involve not only lecture and content delivery, but also will engage you in the experiential delivery of concepts and skills. There will be different “experientials” you will participate in: live role plays and enactments; videos of master therapists doing counseling sessions; movie and media vignettes which demonstrate concepts; and personal application for your skills as a therapist.

Finally, from the opening orientation to graduation, you will be in an active process of personal, spiritual and professional growth with your fellow students and the Institute’s faculty. As Dr. Townsend says, “There is nothing more effective than counselors who have done their own personal growth work, and nothing more ineffective than counselors who have not."

For online students, the week before you start your tenure in the program (and the following year), you will be involved in a 3-day "Personal Development Skills Process Group" intensive (on the Huntington campus or in Indianapolis) leading up to the opening day with Dr. Townsend and the rest of the Institute.

These high-value growth experiences follow the format developed by Dr. Townsend in his unique counselor development program. The Bible and proven scientific research assert that growth occurs when new information is combined with new experience. The Townsend Institute uses this model, combining dynamic teaching sessions with process groups. These monthly or week-long intensives, led by highly-trained faculty, allow you to take the information to a deeper level, as it relates to your own life and counseling. You will learn new and powerful ways to attain relational and professional success. This experience will prepare you for applying all the principles and skills from rest of the program at the deepest level. In addition, students also will be involved at least 20 hours of personal counseling during their time in the program. Students wanting to be licensed also will have one practicum and three internships where you learn to apply your skills with the supervision of faculty and the onsite supervisor.

Dr. John Townsend’s Involvement in Your Personal and Professional Growth

One day each month in the Fall and Spring Semesters, John will personally teach and demonstrate the different modules of his competency-plus-character growth model. He will lead two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon.  Students will have time to interact with Dr. Townsend during these sessions, at the luncheon and the coffee time at the end of the day.  

Nationally known speakers will join Dr. Townsend on those days via skype or in person to share their latest research, principles and practical skills.  They are part of the Institute Fellows with whom the Institute has partnered with in providing a cutting edge learning environment.

Students will complete assigned reading and competency-plus-character homework for each of these modules to intensify the learning outcomes. This all-day experience creates a strong sense of community that deepens the personal growth and learning.

Students will create a personal development plan during their time in the program. Dr. Townsend and the faculty will review the plan, and make suggestions on ways to accelerate the growth process.

Institute Fellows

Dr. Townsend has assembled a deep bench strength of his many friends, whose lectures and trainings will add great value, content and skills to Institute students. All are experts in their field, and many are bestselling authors. Here is a current listing:

  • Daniel Amen
  • Steve Arterburn
  • John Baker
  • Ken Blanchard
  • Henry Cloud
  • Dennis Del Valle
  • Mike Ellison
  • John and Julie Gottman
  • Richard Halderman
  • Ray Hilbert
  • Nancy Houston
  • Jim Lane
  • Kevin Leman
  • Dave Lindsey
  • Paul Meier
  • Frank Minirth
  • Elaine Morris
  • Tom Okamoto
  • Nancy Ortberg
  • Les and Leslie Parrott
  • Fred Smith
  • David Stoop
  • Wayne Williams

Learn more about these scholars and leaders >>

48 and 60 Hour Programs

In Indiana, to be licensed, you need 60 hours in your Master's program. Click on the Sample Course schedule below to see the different courses that will be included in these programs.

Some students will practice in states that only require a 48 hour degree program for licensure. Some students may choose another ministry or career that doesn't require licensure. These students will have the option to take a 48 hour MA in Counseling. This program will consist of 24 hours that follow the CACREP (Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs) core (CN 601-608); 1 Practicum and 2 Internships (9 hours); Personal Development Skills Process Group (3 hours); Foundations/Dimensions and Knowledge/Skills of Mental Health Counseling (6 hours); and Spiritual Formation and Integration classes (6 hours). Students may add electives if they need more for licensure in another state.


See sample course schedule >>