Why is Clinical Mental Health a passion of yours?
When I completed my undergraduate degree in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, I volunteered for a local program, Grief Relief. Supporting grieving children quickly became a passion of mine, to the extent that immediately following graduation, I started the Master of Science in Thanatology (the study of death and dying) program at Marian University. During my time in that program, I was able to complete an internship at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in the bereavement program supporting families following the death of their child in the hospital.
Following graduation, I began looking for a second master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I started my second master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. While in the program, I felt God guiding me to start my family. I prayed for God to guide me and show me the way if it was in His plan for me to put a pause on the second master’s degree. Weeks later, the position as a bereavement specialist in the exact program I volunteered for during my undergraduate degree opened. I applied, interviewed, and was offered the job. Six and a half years later, I continue to work as a bereavement specialist working with families following the death of a loved one on the SSM Healthy at Home Hospice program in Fond du Lac.
I have always wanted to help people, and my ability to combine my passion for expressive arts, grief support, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Christian education through Bethany makes me excited about the ways I am already making the field my own.
What has led you to your interest in becoming a more skilled helper for those needing assistance?
Throughout my time working in bereavement, I have learned that while my initial interaction with the bereaved is started due to the death of someone in their life, the conversation can move to other various mental health concerns they have or are currently experiencing. The desire for continued knowledge and becoming licensed was placed on my heart about a year and a half ago. My daughters, age two and four at the time, were no longer keeping me up all hours of the night, and I felt God pulling me back to finish what I started in the clinical mental health field.
I see grief work always being a part of the support I provide. However, I knew that if I were to completely step away from grief support but wanted to stay in the field of mental health, I needed to have a Clinical Mental Health degree.
What drew you to the Bethany Clinical Mental Health Program?
God – 100% God. My interview with Dr. Kohls hooked me, and he instantly understood my desire to talk about my faith with the clients I was supporting, especially in the field of death and dying. Pursuing this second Master’s at Bethany with the goal of being a Christian counselor when I graduate made all the sense in the world to me. I have always known that if I continue to trust His plans for me, He would continue to bless my journey.
How has the balance of online and in-person been for you learning more about counseling?
The balance for me works really well, especially with my young daughters and husband at home. It has been a great blessing that I can attend Bethany’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program from Fond du Lac, WI and not need to be in Mankato full-time. When I did go to Mankato for the first residency and finally got to meet these individuals who “spoke my language” in person, it did something to my heart that is hard to explain. The online component has allowed me to continue to be a full-time mom, a full-time bereavement specialist, and a full-time student. It has been a whirlwind, to say the least, but also the perfect blend of online and in-person for the place I am currently at in my life.
What concepts have helped you to grow as a helper (from the classes you’ve taken)?
I have always leaned into my faith in moments of uncertainty, and while faith has always been a part of me, it has never really been incorporated into my post-high school educational experiences like it has been for me at Bethany. The professors’ goals to integrate faith into each course has been my favorite part of the program. I just started in the treatment program this fall, and I am already appreciating the ways Dr. Kohls brings in various forms of treatment that incorporate our faith so naturally and beneficially. I have also enjoyed the ways the courses build on each other, allowing me to feel comfortable and confident in the clinical in-person counseling I am doing at my internship site. Knowing each professor is in my corner and willing to debrief, guide, or just talk has helped me know that I am not floating in this boat alone. I have many people cheering me on and wanting me to succeed.
How do you see your efforts in the program benefiting your career? Your community? Your family? Your service to the Lord?
My dream is to work as a full-time Christian Clinical Mental Health Counselor in the Lutheran high school I graduated from. God has led me to this moment at Bethany Lutheran College, this degree, these professors, and the classmates that have turned into some of my closest friends for a reason. I also know the reason I am at Bethany is for the benefit and purpose of glorifying God’s Kingdom here on earth. With God’s guidance, I truly hope my dream of working at my alma mater as a Christian counselor is the next step for me. If it is not in His plan for me, I will continue to follow His guidance, as I know that being a Christian counselor will benefit the clients I work with in the future.