May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it has fully kicked into gear. As a Pastoral Counselor, I wanted to talk about my journey to get here, where I am today.
Many, many, many years ago, I was in my second year of college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. I had gone from wanting to be a teacher and working with kids, to not having any direction at all. I took a variety of classes during my first two years of college and I even took a class to help me explore different career options. Some of those things helped, but, I wasn’t 100% sure.
In my final semester of my second year, I took a Psychology 101 class. I fell in love. Learning about behavior and understanding it was so intriguing to me. Now, I wanted to be successful and at this age, I wanted to make big bucks. So, I did some research on careers in the field of psychology and behavioral health. I saw that psychiatrists made a ton of money and so I stuck with that. I graduated from my Junior College and enrolled into my Bachelors degree at Arizona State University. I loved most of my psychology courses. However, there were several courses that I didn’t like. Through this process, I was able to learn more about what I loved.
Fast forward, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2005. In 2006, I enrolled with the University of Phoenix for a Master of Counseling degree. In 2010, I graduated from the University of Phoenix. It was a huge accomplishment! I struggled after graduation. I didn’t follow the path my peers took. I didn’t become state licensed. I had a very hard time figuring out what to do next. I had a lot of fears. I was really passionate about my faith and I wanted to have the freedom to speak about Jesus and the Gospel with people while counseling them. The issue was that I didn’t know how to get there. I found the National Christian Counseling Association and enrolled in their program. I was thrilled. Christian counselors existed and I was going to be one.
Once I finished my studies, after many years might I add, I earned a title. Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor! There was a lot going on in life and I knew that part of the call was helping the local church and their members and attendees. People walk into churches every Sunday. They are either regular attendees or new. There is always a possibility that they may be experiencing issues with their mental health or they may have someone in their family who is. These people are going to the church and seeking healing, help, and miracles. The church is a great place but is often unequipped or unprepared for some of the serious issues that people bring to them. The church sometimes does not have the time or the resources to provide counseling services. They also may not have a referral network of providers who can provide faith-based, biblical Counseling. This is why I am here.
Jesus cares about people experiencing issues in their relationships, in their families, experiencing infertility issues, going through grief and loss, on the verge of divorce, and/or people who may or may not have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. I often remember how Jesus was with the lepers. This is not saying that people with mental health issues are lepers. The correlation is that Jesus cared for them. Jesus loved them. When the world treated them poorly and ostracized them, Jesus accepted them and healed them. He renewed their faith and their strength. He revealed Himself to them. And, my heart breaks for people who often feel alone, feel forgotten, or feel like the church isn’t understanding or supportive. God called me for a purpose and that was to make the connection between mental health and faith, mental health with church, and mental health with Jesus.
I am a Pastoral Counselor because Jesus cares about mental health.