LIFE AFTER LOYOLA:¬
An Interview with Lurlene D. Sweeney, LCPC
My first-year clinical supervisor, Mrs. Lurlene D. Sweeney, LCPC, is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland‚Äôs Pastoral Counseling program.¬† She is calm, sensitive, compassionate, and understanding, with a strong work ethic.¬† I was always impressed with the skill and ease that she brought to our supervisory meetings.¬† Not only did she have excellent clinical skills, but her pastoral presence was very valuable in helping me navigate my new role as a bereavement counselor intern.¬† Even after our mandatory sessions were over, I would call Mrs. Sweeney whenever I needed therapeutic guidance, and she was always amenable to receiving my calls.¬† Therefore, as I considered life after Loyola, my mind automatically found Mrs. Sweeney.¬† What follows is a glimpse of Lurlene D. Sweeney‚Äôs life after Loyola.
Glenda Laurent Dickonson:¬† When did you graduate from the Pastoral Counseling program and what degree did you receive?
Lurlene D. Sweeney:¬† I graduated in 2003 with a Master‚Äôs of Science in Pastoral Counseling.
GLD:¬† What was your first job after graduation, and how easy or difficult was it to attain?¬
LDS:¬† I began working prior to graduation as a consultant.¬† I had formed a partnership with two other clinicians and we provided behavioral health consultation to a non-profit as a subcontractor for the Department of Health and Human Services from 2002 – 2004.¬†
GLD:¬† Did your affiliation with Loyola and/or the Pastoral Counseling program benefit you in finding employment after ending your tenure with Health and Human Services?
LDS:¬† In 2004 I was employed by Prince George‚Äôs Health Department Children and Parents Program (CAP) where I had done both years of my clinical internship.¬† I worked there as a therapist until 2006.¬† Actually the director had offered to hire me during my first internship year with CAP, but I declined because I did not want it to interfere with my studies.¬† So you see the connection with Loyola in terms of obtaining employment.¬† It is often the case that a student is offered employment at their placement.¬†
GLD:¬† You left CAP in 2006, so what is your current position?
LDS:¬† I am an independent contractor with The Pathfinder Project, Inc., a group practice serving multi-generational, multi-cultural clients with a variety of mental health disorders.¬† I have chosen, at this time, to work part-time, and this venue suits my needs, allowing me to work 2-3 days per week.¬† In addition, I provide supervision for graduate students in Loyola‚Äôs Pastoral Counseling program (http://www.loyola.edu/pastoralcounseling).¬† I enjoy staying engaged with the students and staff at Loyola.¬† My flexibility in my work schedule facilitates my availability for supervision.
GLD:¬† Did you have a specific goal upon graduation, and if so, have you attained it, or are you on your way?
LDS:¬† Actually, I did have a goal.¬† I have not yet attained it, and it‚Äôs possible that I will not; but that‚Äôs okay because what I am doing is no doubt in line with what God has for my life.¬† My goal when I began the Pastoral Counseling program, was to develop skills and qualifications to work with organizations, particularly churches in conflict.¬† I wanted to do conflict resolution within the religious community.¬† The description provided by Dr. Bob Wicks during open house was that this program was a marriage of theology and psychology, and it sounded like the ideal program to launch the career I wanted.¬† I had an undergraduate degree in psychology, and had spent decades studying scripture, and I loved both areas.¬† Therefore, Pastoral Counseling sounded great to me.¬† By the way, I had never heard of Pastoral Counseling before reading the announcement for the open house in the Washington Post.
GLD:¬† What was your favorite or most meaningful class that you took at Loyola?
LDS:¬† The most meaningful class was Group Therapy because of what happened in that class.¬† I witnessed the power of the process to bring meaningful change in a person‚Äôs life.¬† That class changed me and my classmates in a very profound and lasting way.
GLD:¬† Is there a professor or staff member who inspired you or who you admired?
LDS:¬† Dr. Wicks impressed me as to what it means to be a pastoral person.¬† Dr. Joe Ciarrocchi left an imprint for being demanding but fair; the former Clinical Director was the most encouraging to me personally.
GLD:¬† Many students come to Pastoral Counseling as a second or even third career.¬† What about you?¬† What were you doing prior to Loyola?
LDS:¬† Prior to Loyola I was a career Civil Servant.¬† I retired as a Supervisory Safety and Health Manager from the U.S. Coast Guard.¬† That was a job that required more left-brain activity ‚Äď thinking rather than feeling, making tough decisions, managing crises, etc.
GLD:¬† Why Pastoral Counseling?¬† Was it a calling?¬
LDS:¬† Given the diversion from my goal, I must acknowledge what people like Dr. Allan Tsai said to me early on ‚Äď that I possess a gift that makes it easy for people to talk to me, and I am able to really hear what they are saying.¬† I know the gift is from God, and has been there all along, but I was not pursuing the development of the gift.
GLD:¬† What advice do you have for current PC students?
LDS:¬† To get the most out of the program, one has to be open to the experience.¬† It‚Äôs not just an education, it is a process of personal change ‚Äď a journey, first for the learning clinician, and then for those they work with.¬† As scripture says:¬† ‚ÄúAnd hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.‚ÄĚ¬† 2 Tim. 2:6 (NLT).