Bereavement Counselor, Blue Ridge Hospice, Shenandoah Valley
There are plenty of counseling programs that do a good job at teaching a wide assortment of techniques and interventions that are well grounded in theory and research. While EMU does an excellent job at exploring and teaching those theories and interventions, the focus is on the counselor as a person. The guiding principles of EMU’s counseling program seem to be to explore, to challenge, and to begin to know yourself. I believe that the heart of counseling is the relationship between client and counselor, and this essential relationship cannot happen until the counselor has begun her or his own journey of self discovery. The great thing about EMU is that professors and staff are dedicated to creating a safe environment that is both nurturing and challenging. At EMU, I was able to begin that journey and feel blessed to continue it. I currently work as a bereavement counselor for Blue Ridge Hospice in the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. As a bereavement counselor, I provide support for grieving clients through short-time individual sessions, educational workshops, and groups.
Licensed Professional Counselor, Valley Hope Counseling Center, Inc., West Virigina
I am the executive director of Valley Hope Counseling Center, Inc., which is a nonprofit counseling agency that provides professional Christian counseling services to individuals, couples, and families located in West Virginia. I also provide the counseling services at the Center and am an LPC. Since graduating from Eastern Mennonite University, Valley Hope Counseling Center has been my focus and the idea for it developed while I was a student in the MA in Counseling program. While studying counseling at EMU I grew personally and realized the importance of my Christian identity in regard to the kind of counselor I wanted to be when I graduated. I enjoyed the small class sizes and will be forever grateful for being introduced to attachment theory, which is one of the main lenses through which I evaluate and address the needs of my clients.
Wendy Albright Ford, LPC
Supervisor of Clinical Operations and Quality Improvement, Arlington County Department of Human Services, Arlington VA
I spent my first 7 years post-EMU doing Emergency Services, Inpatient Psychiatric, and Intake. I currently work for Arlington County as the Supervisor of Clinical Operations and Quality Improvement. This is an administrative position; I no longer provide direct clinical care. I am the Human Rights liaison for Arlington CSB to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). I receive all Incident Reports, and investigate any complaints. In addition, I lead all Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives for the Behavioral Healthcare Division. For example, I am on a committee where we complete a full case review and investigation on each client suicide attempt and death, and provide recommendations for improvements to the quality of care. I also complete qualitative chart reviews, and conduct QI Operational Reviews on various programs within the agency. In addition, I am responsible for all of the CSB’s state reporting (to DBHDS) and for the State Performance Contract. EMU helped me learn my strengths and my weaknesses as a counselor, which allowed me to advance quickly in my career by focusing my work on my strengths. I chose EMU based on the brochure that I received. The pictures showed small groups, lots of smiles, and lots of 1:1 between students/faculty. It just “felt” right; I guess marketing works. When I toured the campus and the MA in Counseling program, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for me. The small class sizes allowed me to cultivate close relationships with my fellow students. Rather than sitting and listening to a professor lecture, I was an active participant in my learning. The professors also took an active interest in us all as individuals, and I felt that they truly cared about each of us. There was no prescribed theoretical orientation that we had to adhere to; rather we were nurtured as individuals to develop our own unique counselor identity.
Supervisor of Child & Adolescent Clinical Services, Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board/ McNulty Center
I have been working at the McNulty Center since graduating from EMU’s MA in Counseling program in Spring of 2004. Currently, I split my time between direct counseling services with children and adolescents between the ages of three to twenty one years old and supervision of several programs. I conduct Virginia Independent Clinical Assessments and provide supervision for children’s outpatient services, prevention of substance abuse in children and adolescent and intensive case management services. EMU’s program gave me the opportunity to explore what area of counseling was the best fit for my style and personality. I enjoyed the focus on individual growth and counselor identity which helped to lay the foundation from which I practice from now. EMU was a good fit with my learning style with having smaller classrooms and with the focus on experiential learning. I enjoyed the relationships that were built with my fellow students and with the faculty in the MA in Counseling program.
6th and 7th Grade School Counselor, Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, Woodstock VA
I greatly appreciated the opportunity to be a part of EMU’s program while taking school counseling courses at JMU. I feel like I am a stronger counselor as a result of EMU’s program. Also at EMU, I received strong creative, play, and sandplay therapy training that has been invaluable to my work as a school counselor. In the elementary and middle school settings, I have the unique skills of sandplay therapy to offer that most school counselors do not have, and I am greatly appreciative to EMU for offering the in-depth play therapy courses and supervision as I developed that skill. The EMU Counseling Program provided assistance and supported my individual needs while I was there. This led not only to helping me achieve academic success, but also provided the “safe place” needed to explore my personal identity and understanding how that translated into who I am as a counselor. Everyone’s spiritual background was greatly respected and people were encouraged to share their background as way to learn about how spirituality can be incorporated into counseling. The same is true with one’s culture, the program greatly respects each person’s cultural background. The professors were extremely knowledgeable, professional, and amazing at their work, but they also were very approachable and made time for each individual student. I wasn’t just a student, but I “belonged” there. This personal and emotional connection also allowed me to have the courage to develop my counselor identity. If I could sum up the experience with the faculty relationships in one word it would be “grace.” They are so gracious with students. From the relationships I had with the MA in Counseling faculty, I learned that counseling is not just a career, it’s building relationships with real people that deserve genuine care.