Trevecca Nazarene University

Heart: Graduate Counseling Program helps heal Nashville's human heart

(An excerpt from the Treveccan's 2013 President's Report, which used the theme “Trevecca--A Christian university in the heart of Nashville")

Beyond the geographic heart a city is the “human heart” that is the city’s population—the individuals and families who call that city “home.” That “human heart of Nashville” is the focus of Trevecca’s Graduate Counseling Program. For twenty years members of the Graduate Counseling faculty have been on a mission to help Nashville’s families and individuals improve their ability to face life and function effectively. The work of this faculty has ensured that Middle-Tennessee families and individuals can find skilled, Christian therapists.

“In 1990 I could count on one hand the number of Christian therapists or counselors in Nashville. Now [in 2013] that number is more than a hundred,” explained Peter Wilson, PhD, director of Trevecca’s Graduate Counseling Program. “There is no way to measure Trevecca’s impact on counseling services in this area, but there is no doubt in my mind that when persons ask about Christian counselors in this city Trevecca’s name will come up,” he added.

Trevecca’s Graduate Counseling Program has raised the visibility of Christian therapists in Nashville.  “Some years ago four therapists and I met in a booth at Shoney’s to start an organization for Christian counselors in Nashville, and the Nashville-Area Association of Christian Counselors [NAACC] was the result,” explained Wilson. Two members of Trevecca’s Graduate counseling faculty, Jan Harvey and Michael Christian, currently serve on NAACC’s board of directors alongside graduates of Trevecca’s program.

Wilson and his colleagues ensured that Trevecca’s Graduate Counseling Program was structured to meet state requirements for licensure of professional counselors and marriage and family therapists. “Recognizing that the ultimate goal of applicants to the program was licensure in the state, we committed ourselves to aiding our graduates complete the licensure process,” Wilson noted. These extra services, provided after graduation, cost graduates nothing, but, Wilson says, “They are major reasons why the number of counselors who practice from a Christian worldview in Middle Tennessee has increased and distinguishes Trevecca’s counseling program from others in the area.”

Describing his journey to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, Neil Sharpe said, “The licensure process is challenging, and I needed support from classmates and guidance from my Trevecca professors. Always accessible, helpful, and engaging during my graduate school experience, my professors continued to support me by providing supervision, encouragement, and advice through the licensure process. I am thankful that I chose the Trevecca Graduate Counseling Program to assist me in my journey toward God’s calling in my life.”

Additionally, members of the counseling faculty maintain close ties with the state board that regulates licensing, stay aware of changes, and advocate for needed rule changes. “We know that we’re doing more than simply providing degree education,” said Wilson.

And what the Graduate Counseling Program provides helps heal Nashville’s “human heart.”