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40 Years of Learning and Teaching: The journey and impact of CBU’s oldest graduate program

California Baptist University's Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program celebrates 40 years of transforming lives and careers in Riverside

Dr. Gary Collins speaking at the MSCP 40th anniversary celebration. (Courtesy of California Baptist University)

Echoes of laughter and shared stories filled the air around Fortuna Fountain on the California Baptist University campus at the celebration of the university’s oldest graduate program: the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology (MSCP). 

Lunch was served, lawn games were played and decades of transformative journeys were acknowledged as alumni and faculty from all walks of life and careers shared their support and passion for the MSCP program.

The program began in 1982 with 13 students enrolled in the program and 11 total graduates in the class of 1984. Forty years later, it is now one of the largest graduate programs at CBU with 298 students expected to graduate in the summer of 2024.

Students enrolled in the courses learn how to reconcile and restore relationships through a biblical lens. This includes individuals as well as couples and families with mental, emotional and spiritual distress. This program meets the requirements for licensure in the state of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and graduates can become licensed professional clinical counselors. The program transitioned to online learning in 2012 with a virtual hybrid format that allowed for more students to enroll. 

At the 40th anniversary celebration, attendees were addressed by Dr. Gary Collins, founder of the MSCP program; Dr. Joshua Knabb, associate dean of the Division of Psychology; and Dr. Mischa Routon, program director, on the past, present and future of the program.

“I wanted to develop a program that would produce competent, caring, well-trained clinicians,” said Collins.

Collins described in his speech the desire for students to be equipped with a biblical perspective and a servant’s heart in all they do. He has seen this in action with former students who have completed doctoral programs and have become successful in their endeavors.

 Beyond continuing academic studies by earning doctoral degrees, some alumni work in the clinical setting while others have pursued careers in private practice, education, residential care and more.

 Rhonda Kitchen, an alumna from the original graduating class in 1984, attended the celebration.

 “CBU has always felt like family,” Kitchen said. “Dr. Gary Collins and many other professors truly care about their students.”

 Kitchen works at Fort Sherman Academy with her husband in Shoshone County, Idaho. The organization trains and supports missionaries to go to dangerous parts of the world to share the gospel.

 The students aren't the only ones impacted by the longevity and significance of the MSCP program. Dedicated professors pour into the lives of these students to help them succeed.

 “The need for licensed mental health professionals is great,” Knabb said. “There is no greater reward in a profession than to walk alongside someone to help improve their life.”

 Through this program, students can grow professionally in the competencies that they continue to develop and personally in the confidence that comes from working with clients and patients. This can be done thanks to the students and professors who came before them, setting current and future professionals up for the utmost success.

Interested in earning a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology? Learn more at