Donald A. Cheyney, M.Div., Dean
Department of Christian Counseling
Jeffrey Black, Ph.D., Chair
Penny N. Freeman, M.S.
James C. Meyer, Ed.D.
Lisa M. Kuzma, M.S.
William W. Clark, Ph.D.
John Freeman, M.A.R.
Philip Henry, Ph.D.
Randall B. Hicks, Psy.D.
Roger Pickard, M.Ed.
Dave Wiedis, J.D.
Helping People Find Direction in Life
People today are struggling. They are looking for ways to make their lives complete and meaningful in a world that offers them only darkness and chaos. The purpose of the Master of Science in Christian Counseling program is to train Christian Counselors to serve as beacons of light and hope for people who feel lost in the spiritual, psychological, and relational storms of life.
The MSCC program has been strategically designed to cultivate in students three essential qualities: wisdom, maturity, and skill. Without these spiritual and practical qualities counselors can never be successful at providing real hope, godly direction, or lasting help to struggling people.
The program’s educational strategy includes seven distinctive components:
- Personal Attention and Respect
The faculty and staff are committed to giving students the same personal attention and respect they will one day give to their counselees. From assistance with the application process and advice in registering for courses to classroom interaction and one-on-one lab supervision, staff and faculty make it a priority to focus on each student as a unique individual. This is essential to helping each student reach his or her potential.
- Development of the Whole Person
Although helping students achieve academic excellence is important, the faculty believe that effective counselors are those who mature spiritually, relationally, and psychologically as they grow professionally. Inside and outside of the classrooms and laboratories students are challenged and assisted to develop and maintain health in their spiritual, family, and private lives as they pursue competence as counselors.
- Nurturing Community
The faculty believes that people grow and serve more effectively in safe, supportive and nurturing communities than they do as “lone-rangers” or independent agents. Because of this, an attempt is made to keep students immersed in small groups with their peers and faculty in order to provide this kind of nurturing community.
- Balanced and Relevant Curriculum
In constructing and refining the curriculum faculty are vigilant to assure that all course work is relevant and practical for counselors who are soon-to-be “in the trenches” working with the most troubled people. They are committed to offering a curriculum that always balances contemporary scholarship and professional standards with biblical truth.
- Approachable and Involved Faculty
The faculty is committed to teaching counseling first by example. This requires hands-on personal involvement with students both inside and outside of the classroom. Faculty get involved with students as real people in order to give them opportunity to benefit from their first-hand experiences as counselors.
- Real-to-Life Laboratory Experiences
Faculty teach counseling as an art that must be practiced to be mastered. From the first day to the last day of the program, students participate in laboratories and practical field experiences that plunge them into real-to-life scenarios. They learn through hands-on, trial-and-error rehearsals under the watchful eyes and artful supervision of faculty.
- Dependency on the Spirit of God
Faculty believe counseling people when they are the most vulnerable and talking to them about the most intimate and difficult struggles in their lives is a sobering and sacred calling. It must always be approached with humility. Even with the most advanced training, no one is really adequate for this task without help from God’s Spirit. They are committed to helping students learn how to depend on the wisdom and power of God’s Spirit in all their attempts to help others.
The goal of the MSCC program is to thoroughly equip individuals to confidently and competently integrate their Christian faith with professional standards and practices in whatever settings they serve as counselors.
Graduates of the MSCC program have gone on to successfully serve in counseling roles as pastors, missionaries, school counselors, social workers, youth workers, small group specialists, campus student-development directors, human resource and employment assistance counselors, chaplains, and therapists in inpatient, outpatient, wrap-around, correctional and private practice settings. Many graduates also pursue post-graduate certificates and doctoral degrees. The program is especially suited to equip people for counseling ministries in churches, para-church organizations, counseling centers, social agencies, and schools.
Profile of the MSCC Student Body
One of the most enriching elements of the MSCC program is the diversity of the student body. Such diversity provides the opportunity to learn and grow from multiple perspectives.
Age and Career Diversity:
The majority of students enter the program in mid-life, already having a wealth of life experiences. Most are employed full time in professions ranging from education, church, or para-church ministries to medicine, law, social work, corrections, human resources, or business.
Gender and Cultural Diversity:
At any given time the student body is composed of local, national, and international students (one-quarter male and three-quarters female) who represent every major racial group and numerous ethnic cultures from around the world.
Students in the program come from a variety of church backgrounds including Baptist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Methodist, and Independent. They are evangelical in their doctrine and committed to integrating their faith into their professions.
Core Values of the MSCC Program
Understanding people and their problems, and helping them find solutions and change is no easy task. Students in the MSCC program are equipped for this task by an experienced faculty who base every aspect of the students’ training on the following core values:
- The centrality of Christ in psychological health
Christ is the ultimate source of life and health. People cannot truly experience wholeness, psychologically or spiritually, without knowing Christ intimately and obeying Him unconditionally. As Creator and Lord, He alone can give the power and freedom to change, live, and love as healthy people.
- The authority of the Bible for guiding people
The Bible, God’s written word, is the only reliable and sufficient source of knowledge for providing an authoritative and comprehensive framework for fully understanding the complex nature of human beings, their problems, and the ways they change. The Bible provides the philosophical and ethical foundations that guide in choosing and implementing counseling interventions with people. Whether one counsels in a formal therapeutic setting or in an informal discipleship or ministry context, the same biblical guidelines are relevant and applicable.
- The importance of relationships in human growth and healing
Created in the image of God, people need relationships to grow and stay healthy. The relational environments in which people exist play an important role in either contributing to their difficulties or promoting their health and growth. Helping people find or build honest and loving communities of relationships is an essential part of counseling people and promoting their well-being.
- The indispensable role of suffering in people’s lives
Although suffering is an inescapable part of human existence, it is not the source of people’s psychological problems. How people choose to respond to suffering is. The primary focus of Christian counseling is not to help people escape suffering, but to help people understand, respond to, and use their suffering in ways that enable them to discover and enjoy otherwise untapped spiritual truths and resources.
- The necessity of reflection in Christian counseling and discipleship
People cannot grow without a rich understanding of the forces within them that motivate and control them. This kind of understanding can only be acquired through careful, candid, and contemplative thought and dialogue. Counseling relationships cannot facilitate substantial and lasting changes in people without uncovering and attending to the often hidden or disguised governing forces within their own hearts or souls.
- The significance of character development in effective counseling and discipleship
For counseling to be effective its ultimate goal should not be to just relieve people’s problems or pain, but to help them acquire and display the character of Jesus Christ in the midst of whatever problems or pain they are experiencing. Modeling the character of Jesus Christ in what we say and do to those we counsel is the first and most important responsibility that Christian counselors have. What makes an approach to counseling distinctly Christian is its emphasis on character development over mere symptom relief. Effective character-directed counseling requires the spiritual resources of faith, prayer, and worship.