Masters in Human Services - Forensic Mental Health
Classes meet entirely online.
Classes meet face-to-face at our St. Paul campus or other off-campus location.
Course work is completed through a combination of in-class and online class meetings.
Concordia University, St. Paul offers the Master of Arts in Human Services with an emphasis in Forensic Mental Health in partnership with the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS). The 36-credit hour program is offered entirely online and focuses on the direct relationship between mental health and the law. The program provides students with a comprehensive overview of the field of forensic mental health and related systems of care. The program is not a clinical/counseling program.
Concordia partnered with the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS) to offer this program. The program targets professionals who have an interest in the field of forensic mental health and related care systems. The partnership enhances curriculum and professional training by using a comprehensive educational approach that focuses on forensic disciplines and current criminal justice issues.
Forensic Mental Health
This course will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the forensic mental health field. This course will explore in detail why some people with mental health-related problems engage in criminal related behaviors. Students will learn how forensic assessment differs in several critical ways from clinical assessment. Students can expect to learn about evidence-based intervention and treatment strategies that are most appropriate for a forensic population. Students will also acquire knowledge about key practices, policies, and terminology associated with the field of forensic mental health. This course will provide a broad overview of the most common forensic assessment tools used by mental health professionals in the field today. It will teach students about how such tools are used to evaluate issues, including risk assessment, legal competency, legal insanity, malingering, and suggestibility. Students will be expected to learn about
the various factors, limitations, and considerations facing individuals leaving the prison system and re-entering the community. Additional topics of discussion will include basic information about forensic mental health psychopathology and evidence-based treatment interventions, as well as courtroom testimony of assessment findings.
Family Violence, PTSD & Trauma
This course will provide an in-depth look at the relationship between family violence, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), preventing suicide, substance abuse, and trauma, as they relate to the family structure and Armed Services Resiliency Programs, such as Yellow Ribbon and Deployment Cycle Support. This course will help students understand the dynamics of family violence and the impact of witnessing violence and trauma on other family members, including children. Dynamics of domestic offenses and/or assaults committed by war veterans on members of their families, friends, and strangers will be discussed. Students will explore strategies for working with those facing, or suffering from, trauma and grief, and become more familiar with available resources. This course will also look at the risk factors and warning signs associated with family violence, and identify profile characteristics of family violence perpetrators. This course
will examine domestic homicide and postpartum homicide, abusive head trauma, medical child abuse (i.e., Munchausen by Proxy) and scalded-baby cases that have received high-profile media attention. Other topics of discussion will include the adoption and child-welfare systems, the relationship between early childhood trauma and future acts of aggression in youth,and high-risk divorce and child custody disputes. Students will also discuss the Adverse Childhood Experience Studies (ACE) to help them understand how one or more adverse childhood experiences increase risk for medical and mental health risks including dependency court, delinquency, and criminal behavior.
Research Methods in FMH
This course will provide students with the skills to critically evaluate research on issues related to forensic mental health. Students will learn how to apply empirical research to inform their decision-making in matters of forensic assessment and treatment planning. Students will gain an understanding of the dynamics of problem solving, focusing on the development of creative and efficient solutions. This course will enhance students
Ethical & Legal Considerations
This course is consistent with the University mission and focuses on the ethical and legal considerations that forensic professionals encounter in their daily job duties. Students will learn about ethical guidelines for forensic practice, as they relate to an ethical decision-making framework. This course will explore legal issues such as Confidentiality, Mandated Reporting, Consent and Release of Information, Duty to Warn, Domestic Violence, Orders for Protection, and Harassment. Students will examine the role of the mental health professional as a witness in court cases. Students can also expect to learn about ethical and legal dilemmas involving working with forensic clients, potentially homicidal and suicidal clients, family violence and child abuse cases, and the dilemmas often faced when working with victims of crime. Students will acquire knowledge about the types of dangers faced and ways to minimize potential liability while wo
rking in a forensic setting. Ethical decision making and proper documentation practices will also be discussed.
Forensic Mental Health Psychopathology
This course will examine the most common mental health conditions observed in a forensic mental health-based population, including those conditions common among homeless individuals with undiagnosed mental health issues. Particular focus will be placed on disorders that often co-exist with acts of aggression, rage, and impulsivity. Students can expect to learn how substance use, co-occurring disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and pre-natal substance exposure can contribute to increased mental health symptoms. Additional topics of discussion will include the psychopathology of offending, Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI) conditions, personality disorders, substance-use disorders, and childhood disorders and the law. Students will learn about risk factors and key clinical features associated with each disorder. Students will also gain a deeper understanding of evidence-based intervention and treatment strategies deemed most effective with a forensic mental health population.
Spec. Populations Frn Mntl Hlt
This course will explore underserved and disadvantaged individuals who are involved in the criminal justice and legal system. Other topics of discussion will include vulnerable adults and severely neglected children, guardianship, war veterans who are entering our criminal justice systemsat an alarming rate, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Traumatic Brain Injuries, Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome, and victims of crime. This course will also examine veteran, dependency, and juvenile justice court systems.
Substance Use & Co-Oc Disordrs
This course will provide students with an overview of the most commonly abused substances in forensic mental health populations. Students will learn how to identify commonly abused drugs, recognize patterns and warning signs associated with drug use, and identify evidence-based intervention and treatment approaches. This course will also focus on the impact drug use has on brain development, behavior and violence, and on the family system. Students will learn about therapeutic drug courts and diversionary programs for substance-abusing populations. Impacts of DWI and drug courts (both juvenile and adult) will be discussed, as well as assessment criteria, screening practices, and treatment interventions.
This course will provide students with a better understanding regarding why some individuals engage in inappropriate sexual behaviors. Students will learn about the various types of sex offenders, risk factors and statistics associated with sex offending, sex offender-specific policies (i.e., registries, civil commitment of SVPs), and sex offender treatment options. Students can also expect to learn about different types of instruments used to assess for sexually inappropriate behaviors and the diagnostic criteria associated with these behaviors. Students will also learn about sex offender-specific risk assessment tools designed for use with adult and juvenile populations, as well as their strengths and limitations. Students will learn how sex offenders often use religious or spiritual themes in the victimization of women and children to justify their own conduct. This course will also explore co-morbid conditions often associated with sex offenders.
Other topics of discussion will include exhibitionism, indecent exposure, voyeurism, sadomasochism, sexual asphyxia, necrophilia and bestiality, pornography, and internet sex addiction that leads to criminal behavior and incest.
Forensic Risk Assessment
This course will provide more extensive training to students on forensic mental health assessment for adults and adolescents. It will cover topics including risk-needs assessment tools that are commonly used by forensic mental health professionals to assess for risk of violence, danger, and harm to self and others, as well as determining what criminogenic needs should be addressed. It will provide more extensive training to students on the use of a variety of other forensic assessment tools to evaluate issues such as competency to proceed, legal insanity, and response style/malingering. Other topics of discussion will include domestic violence screening tools, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), forensic-based screening considerations, and guidelines for conducting forensic intake assessments. Students will also learn techniques and strategies related to motivational interviewing, active listening, rapport building, and the use of practi
cal tools that are appropriate for use among front line professionals (police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, detention centers/jail staff, etc.).
Cultural Aspects Frn Mntl Hlth
This course is geared towards forensic professionals who want to develop a deeper understanding of varying cultures and learn ways of being more effective and impactful in the work they do with clients, nationally and internationally, from different ethnic groups. This course will also explore what corrections, law enforcement, legal, and related forensics-based professionals need to know about culture. Students can expect to understand the complex definition of culture and gain insight into how culture may impact one
Forensic Mental Health Law
This course will examine the relationship between mental illness and the legal system. It will discuss the various professional roles involved in the forensic mental health law arena, issues involving competency to precede, expert witness testimony, courtroom testimony protocols, and the insanity defense. The stages of a criminal case will be discussed, along with an exploration of therapeutic courts (i.e., drug, DUI, and mental health) in the United States. The exploration of courts will include topics such as substance abuse, undiagnosed mental health issues and substance abuse self-medication. Students can expect to learn about differences between county, state, and federal courts and key legal terminology associated with them. Issues involving mentally ill offenders and developmentally impaired persons who commit crimes will be discussed. A variety of case studies and scenarios will be used to enhance the student
Research and Capstone
This course is the culminating final project in this program of study. Students are required to complete a 30 to 40 page paper on a scholarly topic relevant to the study of forensic mental health. The paper will demonstrate mastery of the identified topic by incorporating the knowledge obtained during degree progression and program degree outcomes. The paper will contain a minimum of 15 peer-reviewed references and an in-depth analysis of the relevant literature. Students are encouraged to identify a topic of interest early on in their program of study and will receive guidance and support from their instructor of record throughout this course. A final oral defense by telephone will be required of each student. The objective of this requirement is to demonstrate mastery of the content reflected in the final research paper.
- Students will learn evidence-based practices as well as therapeutic strategies that have been deemed successful with treating and improving the lives of those in the criminal justice and legal systems.
- Students will discuss the rationale behind why individuals commit crimes and the impact it has on victims and families.
- Students will be exposed to the factors, limitations and considerations facing individuals involved in law enforcement, probation and corrections systems.
- Students will learn about forensic risk assessment tools, testifying in court, and ethical and legal practices that professionals need to follow when working within the forensic mental health system.
- Additional courses include cultural, theoretical, ethical, practical, and research considerations.
1. Apply Online
2. Submit official transcripts from the regionally accredited institution stating the conferral of a Bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 system.
3. Submit a typed personal statement that answers the questions listed below. Completed statements should be labeled with your name, academic program, and your contact information and submitted via mail, email or fax. Each question should be answered in a minimum of 300 words (1 page).
Why are you choosing to pursue a graduate program at this time in your career, and what are you hoping to accomplish by doing so?
What strengths do you feel make you a strong candidate for the program?
Describe a past or present personal/professional experience that you believe positively influenced your potential to succeed in a graduate program.
4. Submit a curent, professional resume.
Students enrolling in a graduate program must have access to a computer that meets Concordia University's technology requirements. Contact Concordia's Help Desk at email@example.com or 651-641-8866 with any questions regarding these requirements.
Fall 2013 Term
Start Date: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Class Day: Thursday
Class Time: 6:30-7:15 p.m. CST
Spring 2014 Term
Start Date: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Class Day: Thursday
Class Time: 6:30-7:15 p.m. CST
Summer 2014 Term
Start Date: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Class Day: Thursday
Class Time: 6:30-7:15 p.m. CST