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Alumni Reviews

Casey OwensCasey Owens (Class of 2012), MA, LPC, School Counselor
Middle School Counselor, Page County Public Schools, VA

When I opened the door to the MA in counseling program, there were many uncertainties about where my journey would lead. The MAC program was much more than an education; it was an opportunity for me to dig deeper into myself and the world around me. Without this personal and professional exploration, I would not be the counselor I am today. EMU’s counseling program provided me with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to help develop my counselor identity. I am continuing to discover my identity through my work as a school counselor.

The education and academic opportunities that I received at EMU prepared me for working in the counseling field. Each course has its purpose and usefulness that I still appreciate to this day. The conversations between faculty and students encourage you to be open with others, as well as, help you to ruminate on your personal experiences. Each faculty member of the MA in Counseling program possesses their own strengths and uniqueness; all which are vital parts to the program itself. The amount of holding and support provided by the faculty is something that I continue to embrace to this day.

The classrooms and gathering places in the MAC suite offer a rare type of fellowship between faculty, students, and counseling professionals. The discussions between myself and others about the program, the field, and life, in general, were a fundamental element in my time at EMU. I continue to find myself yearning for these conversations. If I had to do it all over again, there is no doubt that I would gladly open the door at the MA in Counseling program at EMU.

I am currently a School Counselor at Page County Middle School, LPC

Clinical interests include: children and adolescent issues, anxiety, depression, grief/loss, adjustment issues, behavioral issues, mindfulness, attachment, expressive arts

PD/Trainings: Mental Health First Aid, ASIST Suicide training, Motivational Interviewing, Restorative Justice in Schools

Marjorie NafzigerMarjorie Nafziger (Class of 1997), LPC, School Counselor
Springwater Environmental Science School, Oregon City, OR

I currently work 2 days a week as a school counselor at a K-8 charter school within the Oregon City School District not far from Portland, OR where I live. I cover individual and classroom support on topics covering class culture, friendship, anxiety, problem-solving, leadership, bystanding/upstanding, emotional regulation, character ed., to name a few. I am also the 504 liaison, working alongside our Learning Specialist. I have been in this position for 3 years after leaving 17 years of school counselor work and supervision at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, VA.

When I moved to Oregon 3 yrs. ago I pursued LPC licensure which I now maintain through school-based and clinical trainings both at the state and school district level. Oregon regs are nearly identical to Virginia’s. Much focus is given to trauma-informed practice.

This year marks my 20th anniversary of graduation from the MAC Program! My grad school years were such a formative time professionally and personally, and taught me to listen hard, particularly for what is NOT said…the story behind the story which is an ongoing challenge with whomever I work with, people I casually meet, the national scene, etc. It also helped deepen my understanding of the connectedness of all things that is the underlying milieu of all our lives. Living in the Pacific Northwest and working within an outdoorsy science school, I find that the symbols of mycelium and ‘boundary layers’ provide apt metaphors for not only this connectedness but also the ‘close-to-the-ground’ work inherent in most counseling settings.

During my years in the graduate counseling program, I not only enjoyed the small classes that allowed for depth and support, but then also the ongoing relationship of providing supervision for so many years to MACstudents. I miss that, but am finding, in my current work environment, wonderful support and freedom to be a ‘real’ school counselor who mainly provides both classroom and individual support to very dear students…and not have to get mired down by more unrelated tasks.

Oh, and the other ‘part’ of part-time? Helping take care of a couple rambunctious little grands with whom I live!

Shannon NoeShannon Noe (Class of 2008), LPC, CTS
Youth Counseling Program Manager, ReadyKids, Charlottesville, VA

EMU’s counseling program included the perfect balance of knowledge, theory and practice as well as personal reflection and development. Through this program I came to understand more about myself and how I view the world around me which has enabled me to create the space needed to help others.

Since graduating I have obtained my LPC, specialize in working with child victims of trauma, and supervise the counseling staff at ReadyKids in Charlottesville. I love my job and my passion for helping children began through my work in the EMU graduate counseling program.

My experience in the EMU program was very positive. I was able to get the one on one attention that is so necessary for this type of career path. Our graduating class was small and supportive. We were given the space to learn as well as stumble some along the way, too. All feedback was delivered with honesty and with the intention to help me become my very best. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to find a way to use their voice to make a difference in the lives of others.

Shannon currently works as a program manager for the Youth Counseling Programs at ReadyKids in Charlottesville, VA. These programs provide counseling for child victims of trauma as well as teenagers in crisis. She holds an LPCand is a Certified Trauma Specialist with specific training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Sensitization and Reprocessing, Family Systems, and Play and Art Therapy.

Dana BlauchDana Blauch (Class of 2012), LPC
Individual and Couples Psychotherapist, Dana Blauch PLC, Harrisonburg, VA

Attending the EMU MAC program was a positive and life changing experience for me. After years of work in community mental health and youth ministry I chose to be a stay at home mom. As my sons grew older and I began to explore returning to the work world I repeatedly made it to the #2 spot but was passed over due to candidates with more recent experience or a master’s degree. I couldn’t change the recent experience but a master’s degree was certainly possible. Although an undergraduate of a neighboring university, I was drawn to EMU’s smaller size, appreciation of my faith and strong reputation in the community. The program gave me a strong foundation in skills and techniques necessary for my work. A broad exposure to current research and theories allowed me to explore how I might best integrate my personal style with solid research based practice. The faculty embodied varying experience, research and strong ethical values, all of which were good models in helping guide my own ethical practice and development. Completing the program allowed me to engage a career as a psychotherapist addressing individuals and couples in transformative healing for which I’m profoundly impacted and awed to be a part of!

From the beginning I was encouraged and expected to attune to my own history and personal growth as part of the development of my counselor identity. As a psychotherapist who practices from an attachment and experiential base, it is of great importance that I build a safe and secure relationship with clients, and that my own presence be sincere, authentic and engaged. The focus on self-exploration and personal growth significantly impacted my clinical presence and practice and allows me to engage this very intimate interpersonal work while maintaining important ethical boundaries. Knowing myself better allows me greater understanding, compassion and attunement with each of my clients. I could not practice with integrity, transparency and the vulnerability required without first attending to me which was prioritized in my program. The faculty provided guidance as I explored and developed the integration of my personal and professional identity with theoretical integrity.

For me, EMU Master of Arts in Counseling was just right in numerous ways. The class size was small enough to be safe and intimate for exploration and growth yet large enough to expand and make connections with persons I now call both colleagues and friends. The faculty demonstrates professional excellence and diversity of thought while being personable, approachable, supportive, encouraging and challenging. As I’ve worked and participated in post graduate training I’ve felt well equipped, in fact beyond the basics. More than once I’ve been asked, “where did you learn that?” and I’ve been proud to reference my training at EMU.

Julian Turner, alumni and substance abuse counselorJulian Turner (Class of 2017), MA in Interdisciplinary Studies
Substance Abuse Counselor, Harrisonburg, VA

I had been looking forward to becoming apart of EMU’s counseling program for two years before life allowed me the right set of circumstances to start. It is quite cliché to say that entering through the door to the counseling program was transformative but that was certainly the case for me. As a nontraditional student, I came in certain to be older than my peers. It didn’t help that I was moving from a major city and dragging quite a bit of baggage with me. The feeling of being a fish out of water was eased by the supportive faculty and staff. Our cohort gelled quickly and supported one another as we launched into this odyssey.

From the beginning, all of the faculty stressed the importance of “doing your own work.” They were referring to our own internal introspection, analysis, and healing. Advancing in the program and “doing [my] own work,” forced me to look into the mirror and discover the mettle from which I was formed. This would have been impossible in a larger environment that would not afford the faculty the space to forge authentic relationships with their students.

I have never felt so supported in an academic setting.

The small class sizes also permit a level of trust to be developed within the cohort that creates a container that is sturdy enough, yet soft enough to hold the most delicate and difficult of stories. It was a difficult decision to sit with one of my faculty mentors after my first year and conclude that my path was not towards the LPC but to something more eclectic – the Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies program.

I am currently serving as a substance abuse counselor at a methadone clinic. I see the pervasiveness of the opioid epidemic firsthand, which impacts people even into their 70s, as well as the proliferation of methamphetamines and other illicit substances. The work that I do can feel overwhelming, like a river that has breached its banks. At the same time, it is vital. I am using tools I learned from the counseling program including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Group Therapy, and Person Centered Techniques everyday. I expect to attain my Certified Substance Abuse Counselor licensure in fall 2018.

There is not a day that passes in my profession, and often personal life that does not connect back to lessons and techniques gleaned from the counseling program. What I learned in the counseling program will be treasured throughout the rest of my life.

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