Shared Counseling Program Experiences—“Something Beautiful for God”
By: Tara Mastoris
My boyfriend, Anthony, and I are both in graduate counseling programs. Anthony does not go to Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling program. He attends another school’s clinical counseling program. I thought it would be interesting to share Anthony’s experience of being a faithful person in a secular program versus my experience of being a faithful person in a faith-based program.
Some difficulties Anthony finds being in a secular program:
1. It can be frustrating at times going to school with people who do not turn to faith in the counseling process (mentioning God and/or a Higher Power in counseling conversations seemed so foreign in the classroom environment).
2. Anthony expected faith to be incorporated more into the classroom than it is. This became especially obvious when one of his professors discouraged prayer and talking about prayer with clients.
Some benefits Anthony finds in his program:
1. Though faith is not prominently discussed, Anthony is encouraged by the informal discussions about faith among his classmates.
2. In our conversations, Anthony has begun to discover more about the pastoral side of counseling. In his future practice, God will be the center of the therapeutic relationship between him and his clients.
3. Anthony believes he is more aware of God’s presence in the counseling process because he has a growing awareness of the absense of faith discussions in classes.
Some of the benefits of a pastoral program for me:
1. I love that prayer is an integral part of the classroom discussion.
2. Prayer has served as a vehicle to learn more about my classmates. Through conversation and prayer, I have been able to participate in their journeys.
3. The faculty is committed to integrating spirituality and counseling.
4. I am able to evaluate my progress not just as an academic student, but I am also able to reflect upon my spiritual growth.
I love Mother Teresa’s following words: “You can do what I can’t do. I can do what you can’t do. Together we can do something beautiful for God.” Anthony and I have discovered that the differences in our counseling programs have allowed us further reflection on the types of counselors we hope to be.
When we share our different experiences and use our strengths and gifts to the fullest in whatever we pursue, we can “do something beautiful for God.”