Since I was a child, my friends always seemed to come to with their secrets: about what girls they were interested in, who did better on a test or what one of my friends said about another. At the time I thought that was normal, but as we grew older the secrets became more real and personal such as: family troubles, thoughts of depression and advice on how to navigate tricky situations. Little did I know it was molding me into an empathetic and understanding person and ultimately my career.
The field of counseling encompasses a vast array of theoretical disciplines and specialties. Among these is pastoral counseling. Pastoral counseling is similar to other forms of counseling in that it is interested in how the client’s mind, body, and soul operate and perceive reality. The counselors with a pastoral counseling discipline, like in other trains of counseling, are constantly becoming more informed about new counseling techniques, theories, and research findings.
As a Master’s student in the Counseling Program, I have still been trying to come to terms with the fact that this profession is the goal that I am aiming for. Like a few others in the program, I am still trying to find my path as a counselor to find what I will enjoy and what I may be successful in.
5 Things I’ve Learned About the Human Experience (Studying Pastoral Counseling at Franciscan University of Steubenville)
For the past year, I’ve been studying in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at Franciscan University of Steubenville. More recently, my fellow students and I have been exploring what it means to be a Catholic Pastoral Counselor. A particularly holistic flavor of the profession, Catholic Pastoral Counseling uses the truth of the Catholic faith as well as evidence-based psychological techniques to help and heal every level of the human person: their body, their soul, and their mind.
“To instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to comfort the afflicted.”
As a second year student in the Counseling program at Franciscan University, I am an intern working with recovering addicts. I am a recovering addict. And the thing that has struck me most poignantly of all in my experience with recovering addicts, is that my training in the Mental Health field is not the most important thing when it comes to my job. The most important thing is shared experience.
After 6 years in a large parish in Atlanta, GA working in youth ministry, I found myself wondering how best to help those coming to me who were wounded and broken. I love my faith, I am a Catechetics and Theology Graduate of Franciscan University and my desire was and still is to be the Lord’s hands and feet in loving His children and pointing them to the Heart of Jesus, the Divine Healer!
For those of you who are not aware of Franciscan University’s households, a household is similar to our version of fraternity or sorority. It is a group of men or women who gather together to worship God. Each household has its own covenant that it is based upon and which describes the charisms of the household. Each household meets several times a week for different activities, such as rosary, Mass, or Lord’s Day. Lord’s Day is a setting aside of the sabbath day. It takes place around 4 PM on Saturdays.
As a counseling intern in the Wellness Center at Franciscan University, one thing I have noticed is that it is very difficult for people to practice self-care. Yes, we get busy. Yes, we have papers due and tests to study for. Yes, we have over-committed ourselves to different activities.
Small self-disclosure – I LOVE Lord of the Rings! My favorite of the trilogy is Return of the King. There’s something encouraging and inspiring about Middle Earth hitting rock bottom and struggle bussin’, but in the end rising back to LIFE! (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie…)
A requirement of my pastoral counseling class was to commit to a spiritual exercise during the semester in order to grow in our faith lives, as this is the foundation for all we do in pastoral counseling. At the beginning of the semester I was excited to be able to do this assignment. I wanted to commit to a Holy Hour every week, and hopefully add a couple more Holy Hours when I was able.