Huntington, Ind.— “Depression, anxiety, decision making, sin and guilt, problems of anger management, resentment, self-understanding, identity issues, sexual issues, interpersonal skills, family abuse, addictions and more are real issues in a real world,” stated Dr. Ray A. Seilhamer, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Director of Pastoral Ministries Program at the Huntington College Graduate School of Christian Ministries. “Counseling is a vital part of the healing ministry of the Church."
Seilhamer, a former pastor and bishop in the United Brethren in Christ Church, knows the importance of counseling for the contemporary pastor and the “loving congregation” as well as for para-church organizations. When he served as President of the Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pa., Seilhamer chaired the Counseling Department for 11 years. He has participated in two units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Ann Arbor Hospital and Ypsilanti State Hospital, where he was trained in ministering to the physically and mentally ill.
With over 20 years in teaching Pastoral Counseling, Seilhamer has now been instrumental in the arrival of a new Counseling Ministries degree at the Huntington College Graduate School of Christian Ministries. The new program will debut in September, 2003. It is designed to help develop the counseling knowledge and skills for those who desire to serve as counselors in churches or para-church organizations to bring healing and hope to hurting people. The program will prepare students for church counseling, hospital chaplaincy, crisis pregnancy centers, family case management and other counseling positions which do not require professional licensure.
“One of the major issues facing the contemporary church is highly dysfunctional families,” said Seilhamer, who has been with the Graduate School since 2001. “Divorce and remarriage has added tremendously to the ‘care giving load’ for the contemporary pastor and lay counselors. The spiritual, emotional and legal issues have compounded over the last two decades.”
“Healthy family systems demand insight and understanding,” continued Seilhamer. “The escalation of family issues, along with individual dysfunction, indicates strongly that there is a need for counseling within the context of the church.”
The new program at the Graduate School is not for licensure. A student will need to take a few more courses and fulfill state hours of supervised counseling to become certified by the state. This program will be used within the context of ministry. It will have a strong appeal to pastors and especially lay people who can serve the Lord and the Church by becoming trained counselors for the Body of Christ.
The Graduate School predicts a strong interest in the Counseling Ministries program. Last year alone, over 50 prospective students inquired as to if it offered a degree in counseling. The program will offer a solid ministry and biblical core plus 28 hours of study and practice in the area of counseling. A required practicum will place every student in a counseling setting to work under a counseling supervisor.
Each student will have at least ten different qualified professors during the academic program, which will usually take three years to complete for most students. The Graduate School is on a tri-semester curriculum and classes will be offered two days a month for three months.
“We have a ‘user-friendly’ curriculum which makes it possible for a student to drive 100 to 150 miles to take a course each semester,” said Seilhamer.
The Master of Arts program in Counseling Ministries includes a basic 11-hour ministry core, an 18-hour counseling core, a nine-hour biblical core plus 10 hours of counseling electives. The core curriculum of the Graduate School helps students in all programs attain the understanding and skills necessary for effective leadership and biblical faithfulness while integrating important ministry values.
The Counseling Ministries program will help students to
assist their spiritual and psychological growth to be more competent in service to others.
create a concern for the spiritual and psychological needs of others and an appreciation for the differences between people.
acquaint themselves with those methods and conclusions of counseling which are relevant and applicable to the helping and healing ministry of the church.
enhance counseling skills and interpersonal relationships.
acquaint themselves with the areas of tension and harmony between Scripture and scientific psychology and to suggest approaches to the resolution of differences.
For more information on the Counseling Ministries program or other programs at the Huntington College Graduate School of Christian Ministries, visit the web site at www.huntington.edu/gscm or call 1-888-424-7231.
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