Interview with Dr. Jerry Brenner, Program Coordinator – Rehabilitation Counseling at Fort Valley State University
About Dr. Jerry Brenner: Dr. Jerry Brenner is the program coordinator for the rehabilitation counseling and case management (RCCM) degree program at Fort Valley State University (FVSU). He has been a faculty member with FVSU for 19 years. Dr. Brenner has his doctorate in rehabilitation counseling from the Rehabilitation Institute at Southern Illinois University following his M.S. and doctoral coursework in experimental psychology with a specialty in cognition from Kansas State University. Dr. Brenner also has a life-time, Special Education certifications in specific learning disabilities (SLD), emotionally disturbed/behavior disorders (ED/BD) and multiple intelligences (MI) from the State of Missouri. Currently, Dr. Brenner is also a vocational evaluator for the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and with eighteen years of experience, is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.
At FVSU, Dr. Brenner teaches Fundamentals of Statistics and Measurement, Fundamentals of Research, Medical Case Management, Practicum and Internship, and Orientation for the rehabilitation counseling and case management program. In addition to teaching some coursework, he also serves on the FVSU Human Subjects Committee, the Graduate Council, the Graduate Council Academic Policy Subcommittee, the Departmental Promotion and Tenure Committee and the FVSU Online Committee.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Can you explain more about the rehabilitation counseling program’s mission, values, and goals for their students?
[Dr. Jerry Brenner] The RCCM program at FVSU strives to facilitate the holistic personal and professional development of our students. We strive to have an intrinsic and collaborative relationship with our students in which all stakeholders learn together, grow together and achieve together.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Why is the M.S. degree in rehabilitation counseling and case management a total of 52 semester hours while other counselor education programs are, on average, 48 or 60 credits?
[Dr. Brenner] The RCCM program became a 52 semester hours program in response to accreditation recommendations which included adding academic outcomes in the areas of human growth and development, multicultural counseling and private sector rehabilitation.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Gaining hands-on experiences are imperative to counseling licensure and certification. How does FVSU help students obtain their internship sites and process their experiences?
[Dr. Brenner] We have comprehensive manuals for both our practicum and internship experiences which provide step-by-step procedures for locating and applying for sites. Included in these manuals are detailed lists of potential sites with contact information provided. Students communicate their preferences and work collaboratively with faculty to secure these placements. We also provide a detailed program manual to all incoming students which include requirements and procedures related to the practicum and internship.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] FVSU’s rehabilitation counseling program promotes student research in collaboration with faculty. In what ways do you think that this is an important addition to counselor education?
[Dr. Brenner] We feel the most efficacious avenue for students to learn about the research process is to participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of studies. Students are given both hypothetical and real-world opportunities in various courses and work in collaboration with faculty on their research projects.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Is there any guidance you would give to students seeking an online versus on-campus education in rehabilitation counseling? Can you note any major differences in quality of education provided?
[Dr. Brenner] It is my impression, after twenty years of experience in online learning, that there are certain qualities of both students and faculty that maximize the online experience. These qualities include: timeliness; conscientiousness; self-direction; honesty and integrity; attention to detail; and a strong work ethic.
We make a considerable effort to keep the quality of the online experience on par with the on-campus experience. This effort has been greatly facilitated by the use of synchronous online platforms such as Collaborate Ultra and providing student support services to online students.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] What are some qualities you believe that students who are pursuing a counseling education should possess? What do you look for most in your applicants to the rehabilitation counseling program at FVSU?
[Dr. Brenner] I would say that many of the same qualities that promote success in the online experience also apply to needed qualities for success in the counseling profession. The quality of empathy, knowledge, skills and sensitivity related to issues of ethical, legal and diversity issues, and to be internally motivated to help others who are in need of assistance in their personal and professional development.
[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Can you explain more on FVSU’s mission on promoting multi-cultural competency in rehabilitation counseling and its importance in the field?
[Dr. Brenner] FVSU embraces a history that weaves together the variety of cultures, with a commitment to personal and intellectual growth and a deep sense of community. FVSU is a Historically Black College & University which promotes a one-on-one learning environment and connections with local communities and the world around us. The importance of multicultural competencies within the RCCM program at Fort Valley State University, therefore, cannot be overemphasized as evidenced by the related multicultural knowledge, skills, abilities and dispositions which are embedded within the entire curriculum.