Students and guests attended a “lunch and learn” session covering best practices in professional counseling. Dr. Steve Hunter, Program Director of B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling, and Dr. Jennifer Burgess led the conversation, discussing trauma, technique, and the importance of faith and relationships.
Dr. Burgess said that events like these are essential for students in the Master of Arts in Counseling program.
“Our graduate students need to connect the dots between the theoretical knowledge we have in the classroom and what it looks like when we are sitting with a client. It is hard to do that until you are in the presence of a client, which can be incredibly intimidating. So, trying to do events where we demonstrate role-playing or specific techniques is essential. They include not just theory but tangible examples, so when you get to practicum, you’ll at least have some idea of what that process feels like,” Dr. Burgess said.
It is those discussions that led graduate student Deidra Gross back to Criswell to pursue her master’s in counseling. Gross will begin her practicum in January 2022 and anticipates graduating in 2023.
“It has been amazing! I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Criswell. And then I was looking into going to Texas A&M University – Commerce. But over the summer, I felt like God was not done with me here. So, I re-enrolled into the Master of Arts in Counseling program to start my graduate degree. It has been phenomenal,” Gross said. “You have the power of Christ behind your learning. One of the events we did last week was on integrating faith and counseling. I used to think that being a Christian therapist or psychologist was an oxymoron; that you couldn’t believe in faith and science. I have found that the integration of the two is a beautiful experience because God moves through that. And to have professors who are Christians, who pray with you, and include scripture in the studies, you can’t get that anywhere else.”
Dr. Hunter said that society needs professionals and that Criswell’s program is training the counselors of the future.
“There are so many people reaching out for help. So, this event is important because we invest in the lives of future counselors. And I know with COVID and everything else we have been through—the rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and loneliness—people are crying out for help. This is the future of trained professionals: to glorify God in their ministry to the hurting.”