College of Education & Human Development

Graduate Certificate in Bilingual Counseling

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Bilingual Counseling Certificate (BCC)

Bilingual counselors are highly sought after in counseling agencies, school districts, and counselor education programs.

This 12-hour Bilingual Counseling Certificate is designed to meet the needs of students interested in developing foundational skills in bilingual counseling with an emphasis on Spanish. 

The Bilingual Counseling Certificate is offered through the Department of Counseling (COU) with support from the Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies (BBL). Both departments reside in the College of Education and Human Development. The Department of Counseling bears ultimate responsibility for the certification program.

Receive specialized training to make you more competitive in the job market

UTSA is one out of only 10 CACREP-accredited programs that offers a bilingual counseling certificate. The certificate is available for students enrolled in:

  • M.S. Clinical Mental Health Counseling  
  • M.Ed. School Counseling  
  • Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision
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2 Students studying in library

Our History

As a Hispanic Thriving Institution, the faculty and students in the Department of Counseling at UTSA recognized the need for more specialized training for Spanish-speaking counselors in training. Historically, counselor preparation programs did not provide specialized training for bilingual counseling students. Instead, it was assumed that if they spoke Spanish they would be able to perform their counseling duties with the same effectiveness in Spanish. Department of Counseling for many years recognized the need for specialized training, leading to the development of study abroad programs and bilingual training and supervision. These efforts culminated in 2015 when Drs. Robertson, Trepal, and Zambrano developed the 12-hour Bilingual Counseling Certificate program. The certificate program received tremendous support from school and community organizations, obtaining approval from the university in 2016. 

Since its creation, a total of 33 students have completed the Certificate in Bilingual Counseling, while 67 clinical mental and school counseling students are currently enrolled.  A number of doctoral students involved with the BCC are now working as counselor educators in institutions across Texas.

Why is the Bilingual Counseling Certificate Important?

As of July 2019, the Latino/Hispanic/Latinx community was the largest ethnic group in the country with over 60 million people or 18.5% of the nation’s total population. The latest U.S. Census reported that over 41.5 million individuals over 5 years of age spoke Spanish at home, making it the second most prevalent spoken language in the United States. Moreover, San Antonio is a city with an overall 64% of inhabitants that identify as Latino/Hispanic. Thus, the local population of Spanish-speaking clients is high and deserves particular attention to their cultural and linguistic service needs. 

The goals of this certificate are to address this dilemma by meeting the growing need for improved bilingual counselor education. The certificate coursework provides students with a strong linguistic background in Spanish and forwards opportunities to learn about cultural factors impacting the Latino/Hispanic culture. Additionally, the certificate focuses on improving language skills and targets opportunities to apply this learning to relevant counseling contexts via supervised counseling experience with Spanish-speaking clients 

Thirty-seven bilingual certificates or concentrations exist in mental health fields such as psychology, school psychology, social work, marriage, and family therapy, school counseling, and clinical mental health across the United States. Of this number, only four (including ours) offer a bilingual certificate or concentration that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and trains both school and clinical mental health counselors. All other programs are either in other mental health professions (e.g., psychology), are not CACREP-accredited, or train only school counselors or clinical mental health counselors.  


The Certificate consists of four courses:  

  • Cultural Theories in a Global Context (offered each fall semester) 
    The study of the dynamic relations between culture, language, and the social environment. Explanations for the range of cultural, historical, social-cognitive, psychological, and political-economic adaptations in diverse systems. 
  • Topics in Bicultural Studies (offered spring semester) 
    Acquisition and increased proficiency in the use of the Spanish language for case conceptualization, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning.  Increasing fluency of Spanish mental health terminology for the application of counseling theory into practice.  
  • Advanced Multicultural Counseling (offered each summer semester) 
    An existing doctoral level course that required and built on the foundation of the master’s level multicultural counseling course. Its purpose is to further develop students’ multicultural and social justice counseling competencies through advocacy projects, experiential learning, immersion experiences, and discussion.  
  • Dedicated Spanish Section of Internship (Clinical Mental Health, School Counseling, or Doctoral Internship). Those seeking the Bilingual Counseling Certificate will take a dedicated bilingual section of the internship with the emphasis of serving Spanish-speaking clients/students. In this class, students have to work with at least one Spanish-speaking client/student. Clinical requirements will vary depending on program (School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health, or Counselor Education).

Publications on Bilingual Counseling

  • Interiano-Shiverdecker, C., Robertson, D., Zambrano, E., Morgan, A. & Cantu Contreras, J. (2021). Development and implementation of a bilingual counseling certificate program. Teaching and Supervision in Counseling, 3 (3), Article 3. 
  • Trepal, H., Castellon, N., Kurz, I., Morgan, A., & Contreras, J. (in press). Mi identidad and my privilege: The experiences of females of Mexican descent studying abroad in Mexico. 
  • Trepal, H., Tello, A., Haiyasoso, M., Castellon, N., Garcia, J., & Martinez-Smith, C. (2019). Supervision strategies used to support Spanish-speaking bilingual counselors. Teaching and Supervision in Counseling, 1(1), Article 3.    
  • Trepal, H., Ivers, N., & Lopez, A. (2014). Students' experiences with bilingual counseling. The Journal for Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 6(2).  


Current Projects

  • Interiano-Shiverdecker, C. G., Robertson, D., Wilson, S. & Stumpf, M. (in progress, analyzing data). Exploring language and cultural competence among bilingual counselors who participated in a study abroad program.  
  • Trepal, H. (data collection). Spanish-speaking counselors experiences interning as behavioral health consultants in primary care



  • Jessenia Garcia (2020). Testimonios of first-generation Chicanas in counselor education: A narrative inquiry
  • Nancy Castellon (2020). The experiences of counselors working in detention centers for unaccompanied immigrant children. Winner of the 2020 UTSA College of Education and Human Development Outstanding Dissertation Award  
  • Cristina Martinez-Smith (2018). Bilingual counselors-in-training’s self-efficacy to counsel in Spanish: A narrative study.   
  • Isanely Guerrero Kurz (2019). Una Plática: The Experiences of Latinx Families with a Child with Autism.

Our Faculty


Dr. Claudia Interiano-Shiverdecker
Assistant Professor 
Email | CV


Dr. Heather Trepal


Dr. Derek Robertson
Associate Professor


Affiliated Faculty

Cristella Cantu

Minerva Rosales
Dr. Minerva Rosales is a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Antonio since 2006. She received her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas in 2005. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Her Texas teaching certificates are in the following areas: Elementary Bilingual/ESL-Spanish, Elementary Self-Contained, and School Counselor. She has been employed as a Texas educator since 2000. Concurrently, she is a practicing professional school counselor since 2004. Her primary focus is to provide counseling services to children and adolescents in the school district and teaching UTSA graduate-level students pursuing a degree in counseling.
Comunidad de Consejeros Bilingues

“The Bilingual Counseling Certificate provides a beneficial foundation for providing counseling services to the Spanish-speaking Latino population. Counseling in Spanish is not just about having language fluency, it is also about applying interventions appropriately and understanding the client’s worldview. The Certificate in Bilingual Counseling goes beyond language by addressing culture and bilingual counseling in practice.”


–Julieta Rubio, Doctoral Program Alumni 

Learn More

Study Abroad Program to Oaxaca, Mexico

An optional component of the Bilingual Counseling Certificate is a two-week study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico that occurs in the month of June. 

Organized with our host institution, this study abroad program incorporates lessons and immersion experiences to help students: (a) further expand their Spanish language skills, (b) expand on their understanding of Indigenous cultures before and after European colonization, (c) analyze Mexico-U.S. relationships and migration from sociocultural and political perspectives, and (d) learn about mental health perspectives valued by Indigenous cultures in Mexico. Students who participate in the study abroad program obtain credit for two courses: Cultural Adaptation in Bilingual Societies and Advanced Multicultural Counseling. Students have described this experience as “life-changing”. 

Photo of Oaxaca, Mexico


Dr. Claudia Interiano-Shiverdecker
Assistant Professor
Dr. Derek Robertson
Associate Professor
Dr. Heather Trepal

College of Education and Human Development
Main Building | One UTSA Circle | San Antonio, TX 78249
Phone: 210-458-4370 |