Student Community

group photo of CMHC program participantsWe walk this path together!

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is typically a 2 to 3 year program. During this time of commitment to personal and professional growth, our students often remark on the sense of 'community' they develop with one another. Admission to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is quite competitive, and we believe our students are a significant aspect of our success as a professional counselor preparation program.

Here, you will find profiles of featured students selected to demonstrate the variety of interests and backgrounds within our student community. 

Featured Students


Becky Shaffer, CMHC studentBecky Shaffer, B.S.

Entry Year: 2019

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy and a certificate in Addictions Counseling

Prior Education: Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Appalachian State University, minor in Psychology

Why I Chose App: Since I completed my undergraduate degree here at App State, this is my fifth year in Boone. There is something special about the community here at Appalachian; everyone is so kind and supportive. When researching the CMHC program here during undergrad and later meeting faculty, staff, and current students - I was sold. The professors have a genuine passion for their students to succeed and take immense pride in their work. Along with staff, the cohort model was a huge plus for me. The support that comes with learning within a close-knit group of students was something I knew I would need to succeed in graduate school. 

Counseling Interests: I am interested in working in marriage and family therapy while specifically helping survivors of intimate partner violence and other trauma within the home. Addiction plays a huge role in a lot of household issues so I am passionate about helping those who are struggling with substance abuse as well. 

Damaris Julia Bates, B.S.

Entry Year: 2018 

Damaris Bates, CMHC student

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Expressive Arts Therapy Concentration and Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate

Prior Education: B.S. in Psychology with a Concentration in Human Services at Appalachian State University  

Why I Chose App: My experience as an undergraduate student at Appalachian State University was an outstanding experience that influenced my decision to apply to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. Thus far, the CMHC program has encouraged me to always challenge myself, discover and demonstrate my passion to become a professional in the mental health field, and collaborate with faculty and peers to further enrich my counseling skills. Appalachian holds a very special place in my heart, a home away from home, and a community where I created lifelong friendships. 

Counseling Interests: Before entering the mental health field, my heart has always valued human equality and serving individuals in need through kindness and compassion. My interests are to work with college students and/or young adults who face a myriad of mental health concerns, particularly those who experienced depression and anxiety, trauma, eating disorders and identity crises. I am also passionate about working with minority students who experienced discrimination and other forms of social injustice by facilitating a space that instills empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. I want to support students who are seeking personal change and growth, whether this is to find support in a time of crisis or delve into the therapeutic process that challenges self-exploration. I am interested in cultivate change by implementing the therapy value of a non-judgmental and compassionate therapeutic relationship that enhances human resiliency. My counseling interests include utilizing multicultural, existential and gestalt approaches by incorporating mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions to support client's goals in therapy. 


Emma Robinson, CMHC student

Emmalene Robinson, B.S.

Entry Year: 2019

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Body Centered Therapy and a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling

Prior Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Disabilities in Society from the University of Florida

Why I Chose App: As an out-of-state student from Florida, I sought a campus and a program that differed greatly from my undergraduate university, both in terms of location and type of learning experience. Boone offers beautiful mountains, opportunities to hike, the changing seasons, and amazing terrain - coupled with the distinguished faculty, warm and welcoming current students, and the relationships I formed with other group interviewees, I knew this CMHC program was the one for me. I greatly enjoy the cohort model, the experiential learning, and the CACREP-accreditation that will ensure I leave with the strong foundational skills in building a therapeutic relationship that encourages growth and development. 

Counseling Interests: I hope to create an environment that fosters wellness, cultivates growth, and encourages whole-hearted living for my clients. I am interested in working with minority populations by incorporating the values of social justice and multicultural competency, as well as utilizing approaches such as mindfulness, body awareness, and person-centered counseling. 


Reese Wells, B.S.Reese Wells, CMHC student

Entry Year: 2018

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Body-Mind Concentration, Expressive Arts Certificate

Prior Education: B.S. in Environmental Sciences and B.A. in Mathematics at UNC Chapel Hill

Why I Chose App: I chose AppState's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program for the Expressive Arts Certificate program, for the faculty, and for outdoor access to trails, climbing, and river sports. 

Counseling Interests: I am interested in Mindfulness Counseling in nontraditional settings, namely in wilderness therapy and horitcultural therapy.