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GSU's accreditation is the gold standard

Graduate Profile: Michael Mahoney

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For Michael Mahoney, three degrees weren’t enough to prepare him for his career in mental health counseling, education, and leadership. So he found his way to Governors State University (GSU) to complete a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision (CES), which prepares experienced counselors for opportunities in higher education and advanced clinical practice in professional counseling and supervision.

Mahoney sought to gain the credentials and educational experiences he needed for his practice as a mental health therapist. 

Governors State’s reputation and highly regarded faculty appealed to Mahoney. “I knew that the Ph.D. program established at GSU was cutting edge,” he said. “When I became interested in pursuing a doctorate, GSU’s program was the only one in the Chicagoland area accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is the gold standard accrediting body in counselor education.”

He added that the accreditation ensures students of the program’s quality, and many professional opportunities are open to graduates with CACREP-accredited degrees. He also liked the flexibility of the GSU curriculum, which allowed him to prepare for varied careers within the field and even combine career fields.

“In GSU’s program, I was able to explore and research multiple counseling techniques and now I put that knowledge to use every day in practice with my clients,” Mahoney said. “Obviously, it took considerable time and effort, but I received so much in return. I improved exponentially as a counseling professional, in every way imaginable.”

Mahoney already holds a bachelor’s in finance from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago. He worked as a lawyer for more than 20 years before deciding to enter the counseling field. He then pursued a master's in clinical psychology from Benedictine University.

“This Ph.D. will serve me well should I decide to return to a leadership position in the mental health arena,” he said. “A leader in a mental health organization is always advocating, teaching, and supervising, and I know the knowledge gained in GSU’s program is invaluable for that role."

“I can also combine work as a counselor and a teacher,” Mahoney continued. “I can work in leadership and, at the same time, maintain a private counseling practice. There are unlimited possibilities. Regardless of the roles I choose to pursue, the Ph.D. will signal a depth of understanding and enhance my professional credibility.”

While in the program, Mahoney traveled during winter break with faculty and students to share knowledge about American counseling approaches with professionals in Thailand. “I learned how our counseling knowledge and skill could be put to use in an entirely different culture, with people speaking an entirely different language,” he explained. “I also had the privilege of presenting a paper on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Thailand’s Royal College of Physicians.”

He admits that the dissertation process was challenging but he persevered with the help of his peers and faculty. That effort is already paying dividends, as the dissertation research now impacts his work with clients struggling with addiction issues.

“I am happy to have been a pioneer in the CES program and to have earned my place in the GSU counseling community,” Mahoney said. “I established great, long-lasting relationships with a diverse array of people, and I developed a whole host of new interests in the counseling field.”