How does one become the best counselor he/she can be? The classes offered through Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling Program provide the foundation to becoming a good counselor. The Pastoral Counseling Program also requires two years of an internship at a mental health facility for their degree programs, which helps to provide the experience. Loyola also offers hands-on clinical experience through their own Clinical Center located at the Columbia campus for Pastoral Counseling students.
Because of my Masters in Clinical Psychology and my status as a Certificate of Advanced Studies Student, I was not required to do an internship. I felt I was sorely lacking in the experience of true counseling because my previous internship experience through my masters program was at Kennedy Krieger Institute and the internship utilized behavioral psychology primarily where I basically observed the behaviors of clients and recorded them. I chose to do an internship during the 2011-2012 school year through Loyola in order to gain the experience I lacked but was intimidated by the thought of counseling clients one-on-one and I expressed my concerns to Dr. LaSure-Bryant. She informed me of Loyola’s Clinical Centers and the opportunity to work there in the summer prior to my internship.
The clinic has a diverse population of clients who come in for counseling. The clinic’s focus is on the care of the client so they try to work with the client’s financial situation in order to make counseling affordable. One aspect of the clinic, which was particularly appealing to me, was that talking about spirituality was acceptable which brought a whole different dimension to the counseling experience. At my internship experience in the fall, talking about prayer and spirituality was not encouraged and I shied away from those topics unless the client brought it up. At Loyola’s Clinical Center, clients choose to come in to see a Pastoral Counselor, which provides the forum for the subject of spirituality to be brought up during the counseling session.
I gained invaluable experience working with clients while having the expertise of my supervisor, which gave me the confidence I needed to work with clients in the fall. There are many opportunities for Pastoral Counseling Students in the clinic whether it is through counseling or running group therapy in conjunction with the Speech – Language Pathology Department. Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling Department provides its students with the opportunities to become the best counselor one can be.