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Four Universities with Outstanding Counseling Faculty

Therapists and counselors are crucial to the health of the population. Research shows that differences in treatment according to various mental health disorders are less critical to the mental wellbeing of the patient than the person who provides the treatment.

Of the 14 qualities and actions of competent therapists outlined in an American Psychological Association (APA) report by Dr. Bruce Wampold of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, interpersonal skills topped the list. Six traits were identified as important aspects of this skill: empathy, warmth and acceptance, expressiveness, verbal fluency, interpersonal perception, and the ability to focus on the other. Other qualities and actions of effective therapists include their ability to make clients feel understood, generate trust, provide explanations and treatments for their distress, and communicate hope and optimism while also not avoiding difficult material in therapy.

With a growth rate of 23 percent projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60,000 counseling positions are expected to be added to the workforce between 2016 and 2026—a 23 percent jump, more than three times the national job growth average. If you have a compassionate heart, a willing ear, and the ability to put others at ease, consider exploring a career in the growing field of counseling professions.

Four schools, in particular, stood out for their outstanding faculty in this discipline: New York University, Rutgers University, the University of Iowa, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

The counseling professors at these universities have demonstrated their dedication through years of academic study and professional experience. Their contributions consist of innovative research, an extensive record of published works, teaching excellence, leadership in academic departments and professional organizations, participation in private practice or other mental health organizations, and community engagement.

New York University – Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

New York University was founded in 1831 by Albert Gallatin who wanted to create an educational system “fitting for all and graciously open to all.” NYU now serves 50,000 students in its New York City, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi campuses; the New York City campus is the higher educational institution of choice for more international students than any other university in the US.

NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development was established in 1890 and currently serves almost 7,000 students within its 11 academic departments. The school is said to exemplify NYU’s commitment to public service and to further innovation, knowledge, and creativity while educating for social change. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, art, health, media, music, and applied psychology.


As an associate professor of applied psychology, Dr. Anil Chacko teaches cognitive behavior therapy, abnormal psychology, and counseling theory and research in addition to supervised counseling practicum courses.

Dr. Chacko also works as a staff psychologist at the Center for ADHD and Related Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital and an assistant clinical professor and lecturer for the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. He is widely published in the field with numerous scholarly works to his credit and sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, the ADHD Report, and the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Dr. Chacko serves as the associate editor for BMC Pediatrics and the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Dr. Chacko holds a PhD in clinical psychology and a master’s in psychology from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY) as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology from SUNY Stony Brook.


Dr. Kesia Constantine is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU, where she oversees the clinical training component of the counseling program. She teaches practicum courses in counselor training, the interpretation and the use of tests in counseling adults, and mental health: historical, social, and political perspectives.

Dr. Constantine uses an integrated approach to her work, which she describes as “holistic and multiculturally grounded.” In her private practice, she helps individuals with issues related to anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as body image, interpersonal relationships, difficult life transitions, cultural issues, career conflicts, and physical illness.

Dr. Constantine holds a PhD in counseling psychology from NYU, a master of education in human development and psychology from Harvard University, and a bachelor of arts in psychology, sociology, and anthropology from Swarthmore College.


Dr. A. Jordan Wright is a clinical assistant professor of counseling psychology at NYU, where he teaches clinical assessment in counseling psychology I and II.

Dr. Wright’s research focuses on LGBTQI psychology and psychological assessment. The textbook he co-authored with Gary Groth-Marnat, The Handbook for Psychological Assessment, is the most widely used in graduate training in the field. Before joining NYU, he served on the faculty of the clinical psychology program at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University for five years and was the head of the mental health department of the workforce development program, HOPE, serving under- and unemployed adults in Brooklyn. I

Dr. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and the psychology of creativity from Boston University, as well as a master’s degree in psychology in education and a PhD in clinical psychology—both from Columbia University.

Rutgers University – School of Health Professions

Rutgers University was established in 1766 and is the eighth oldest institution of higher education in the US. Now serving more than 70,000 students across its campuses, Rutgers aims to provide higher education according to the instructional needs of the residents of New Jersey, conduct innovative research that contributes to the state’s wellbeing, and perform public service that supports the citizens of New Jersey and beyond.

The School of Health Professions (SHP) offers 40 degree and certificate programs for undergraduate and graduate study, making it the largest of its kind in the country. Rutgers is one of the country’s most diverse universities. As such, 40 percent of the SHP’s students come from groups that are underrepresented in healthcare professions. The school was rated number one for best colleges to study health professions by College Factual, and the master’s rehabilitation counseling program was ranked number two in the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut) by US News and World Report.


Associate professor and vice chair of the psychiatric rehabilitation and counseling professions department, Nora M. Barrett has taught academic psychiatric rehabilitation courses for over 25 years, during which time she has also been a frequent presenter at conferences both domestically and abroad.

She has served on the boards of several professional organizations including the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services (IAPSRS), the US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA), and the New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (NJPRA). Professor Barrett has over a decade of experience in direct practice, mental health administration, and clinical supervision, and is the co-author of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Her advocacy work focuses on recovery-oriented services, and she is one of the founding members of the Consortium of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Educators.

Professor Barrett holds a master of social work from New York University.


Dr. Amy Cottone Spagnolo is the director of the online master of science in psychiatric rehabilitation leadership degree program as well as an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions.

Dr. Spagnolo’s research focuses on mental health interventions within several sub-areas: healthcare disparities among people with mental illness, peer-provided service intervention, self-efficacy in job seeking for individuals with psychiatric illness, and perceptions of people with psychiatric disabilities. Professor Spagnolo also serves as an eLearning consultant for the university and was previously co-chair for the ADA taskforce to ensure access for students with disabilities to online education. She is a multi-year recipient of the School of Health Related Professions (SHRP) Award for Academic Excellence.

Dr. Spagnolo holds both a master’s and a PhD in psychiatric rehabilitation from the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which is now part of Rutgers University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in the same subject from Kean University.


Dr. Kenneth J. Gill is the associate dean of faculty for the School of Health Professions and a professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions at Rutgers.

He has been the principal investigator on several grants to study interventions and peer wellness coaching for people with psychiatric disabilities, metabolic syndrome, and other serious mental illnesses and has published widely in the field. He is the co-author of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and an associate editor for the American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Outside of his academic career, Dr. Gill worked in a variety of community mental health positions; he still oversees evidence-based practice projects in state psychiatric hospitals and community mental health settings and serves on advisory and governing boards of several professional, mental health, and housing organizations. He is also a founding member and former president of the Certification Commission on Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Dr. Gill holds a master’s degree from Marquette University and a PhD in measurement and evaluation in psychology from Columbia University.


Dr. Carlos Pratt is the director of the Center for the Study and Promotion of Recovery from Severe Mental Illness, a professor, and the director of graduate studies in psychiatric rehabilitation.

Dr. Pratt is the original author of the textbook, Psychiatric Rehabilitation, the first comprehensive text on the topic. He is also widely published in academic journals; he serves as the book review editor of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal and an editorial board member for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills. Dr. Pratt is a board member of the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey and the vice president of the board of directors of Project Live Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing and case management for mental health service consumers.

Dr. Pratt earned his PhD from Hofstra University.

University of Iowa

Located along the banks of the Iowa River, the University of Iowa is the state’s first flagship research university and a member of the Big Ten Conference, the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the country. Other firsts in the school’s history include admitting both men and women students of all races on an equal basis in 1847 and recognizing LGBTQ organizations on its campus in 1970. The University of Iowa was also the first university to establish a College of Law, offer an education degree west of the Mississippi River, and provide a master of fine arts degree.

Notable alumni include the founder of Rotary International Paul P. Harris, accomplished painter Elizabeth Catlett, Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau, and Pulitzer-prize winning author Jane Smiley, among many others. The University of Iowa has also been home to the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop since 1936.


Dr. Erin Barnes is a clinical assistant professor at her alma mater, the University of Iowa. She has more than ten years of higher education teaching and experience in rehabilitation and mental health counseling with individuals dealing with issues related to sexual assault, bereavement, and homelessness, and others. In her teaching, Dr. Barnes uses an experiential and cooperative learning approach with her students.

She is the recipient of the Rehabilitation Counseling Alumnus of the Year Award by the University of Iowa, the International Faculty Development Seminar Fellowship by the University of Pennsylvania and the ELEVATE Fellowship by the University of Pennsylvania, as well. Dr. Barnes is the principal investigator on a grant sponsored by the College of Education Technology Advisory Committee.

Dr. Barnes completed all of her higher education at the University of Iowa, including a bachelor’s in journalism, a master’s in rehabilitation counseling, and a PhD in rehabilitation counselor education.


Dr. Noel Estrada-Hernandez is an associate professor and the departmental executive officer for rehabilitation and counselor education at the University of Iowa.

His research interests focus on psychosocial adaptation to disability, and employment and counseling outcomes, as well as ethical decision making in consumer participation. His scholarly writing and presentations address topics related to ethics, the implementation and training of assistive technology, multicultural perspectives and development of counselors, and social justice in counseling. He believes that being legally blind and the recipient of vocational rehabilitation services himself has fueled his commitment to the field and his dedication to enhancing the quality of life of others through teaching, research, and service.

Dr. Estrada-Hernandez holds a PhD in rehabilitation counselor education from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Puerto Rico.


Dr. Ebonee Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Counselor Education and Supervision.

Some of her most recent scholarly contributions focused on mindfulness and depression in people with fibromyalgia and spirituality and happiness in individuals with spinal cord injuries. She most recently presented at the 19th annual National Rehabilitation Educators Conference on the topic of “Critical Consciousness as a Pedagogical Pathway to Social Justice Advocacy with Counselors-in-Training,” and is co-principal investigator on a grant sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies on race-related stress, job satisfaction, and quality of life in teachers of color in Iowa. Dr. Johnson is also the 2018 Health Disparities Research Institute Scholar at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Dr. Johnson holds a PhD in rehabilitation psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Southern University and A&M College, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana.


Dr. Jennifer Sanchez is an assistant professor and coordinator of several programs within the University of Iowa’s department of rehabilitation and counselor education, including the rehabilitation and mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and clinical mental health counseling programs.

She is also the chair of the Council on Psychiatric Rehabilitation of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE), the faculty co-director of the Support, Education, Resources for Veterans Enlisted (I-SERVE) program and assistant professor in the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation. Dr. Sanchez has used the biopsychosocial framework for assessment, conceptualization, and treatment in her work for more than ten years. Her areas of expertise include working with clients of all ages on issues related to developmental, psychiatric, cognitive, and substance-abuse, disorders, such as autism spectrum, schizophrenia spectrum, Alzheimer’s disease, and opioid use. In addition to her professional, academic, and leadership roles, Dr. Sanchez also serves on the editorial boards of two professional journals and as an ad-hoc reviewer for several leading journals in the field.

Dr. Sanchez completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master of education in rehabilitation and mental health counseling at Florida Atlantic University. She earned her PhD in rehabilitation psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


Dr. John Wadsworth completed his doctorate from the University of Iowa, where he is currently an associate professor.

His main area of expertise is in counselor education and his research centers around that topic as well as the employment of older persons with disabilities. Dr. Wadsworth is a member of multiple professional organizations and is the current co-chair of the Institutional Review Board for Bio-behavioral and Social Science. He is also a co-author of the US Department of Education publication called “The Aging Workforce” and a frequent speaker at conferences and community organizations.

Dr. Wadsworth has a PhD in rehabilitation counselor education and certificate of aging studies from the University of Iowa.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is a private, nonprofit institution with 20 programs in psychology and behavioral science. More than 4,000 students take classes across TCSPP campuses in Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Chicago, and through its online learning programs. Students can study through traditional weekday coursework, flexible evening weekend classes, and online options.

The school’s faculty practitioners employ a learning-through-community service educational approach, called the Engaged Practitioner Model, that utilizes classroom learning, traditional research and clinical practice, and community service to support learners in becoming multiculturally, professionally proficient, and community-minded practitioners. Each year, students complete a practicum, internship or community service project as part of their studies.

TCSPP has been recognized with the Military Friendly Award three times by Victory Media, and the doctor of psychology (PsyD) program at the Chicago campus has been recognized for its contributions to diversity, advocacy, and public policy.


Dr. Andy Brown is an associate professor of clinical mental health counseling who specializes in traumatology. He is currently becoming a theoretically eclectic counselor and holds several advanced certifications in therapeutic techniques, including hypnotherapy, behavioral coaching, brain spotting, and eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR).

Dr. Brown is on the board of the International Association of Trauma Professionals and a volunteer therapist for the community organization WarWithin. In addition to trauma, Dr. Brown counsels those suffering from anxiety, depression, grief and loss, phobias, philias, and other mental health issues. He has also won national and world titles in powerlifting, and he is a licensed minister in the state of North Carolina.

Dr. Brown has a Doctor of Education (EdD) in counseling psychology from Argosy University.


Dr. Tiffany Rush-Wilson is the associate department chair of clinical mental health counseling at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is also a licensed psychologist, a certified eating disorder specialist, and a telemental health counselor.

Her research interests include feminist and multicultural counseling, body language and communication in mental health, and diversity and transcultural issues in eating disorders. Dr. Rush-Wilson maintains a small private practice in which she conducts in-person and tele-behavioral/video sessions. She is also an international speaker on women’s issues, scope of practice, eating disorders, and regenerative counseling supervision.

Dr. Rush-Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a sociology minor from Cleveland State University, a master of arts in community counseling from John Carroll University, and a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in counselor education and supervision with cognate in psychology from the University of Akron.


Dr. LoriAnn Stretch is the chair of the clinical mental health counseling department at TCSPP. Among her research interests are law and ethics, evidence-based practice, the developmental process of becoming a therapist, and distance counseling and supervision.

Dr. Stretch has served in several leadership roles in professional organizations such as the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and the North Carolina Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. She was a participant in the first Sandplay Therapy Institute with the Sandplay Therapists of America and has been a Girl Scout USA member since 1976. Dr. Stretch has extensive experience providing counseling services in private practice as well as for child support services, foster care group homes, court advocacy, domestic violence/sexual assault support, vocational rehabilitation, and disability services.

Dr. Stretch has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in community and college counseling from Longwood University, and a PhD in counselor education from North Carolina State University. She also holds a diploma in social innovation from the University for Peace (UPEACE).