In the fall of 2017, Trevecca’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies announced a new degree program in psychology. Earlier this month, the program’s first graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.
For Lisa Long, the college and young adult pastor at Belmont Church and one of those graduates, completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology was the first step in her goal of becoming a licensed counselor.
“I was convinced I had forever lost the opportunity to finish my psychology degree,” she said. “After a traumatic event 29 years ago, I withdrew from classes. … I’m hopeful that graduate school is next for me. This degree helped me prepare for that eventuality and the bright prospect of a future in counseling and, hopefully, teaching.”
Bethany Mills, the director of the program, says graduates—like Long—will be well-prepared for careers in counseling and other helping professions.
“In our psychology program, we emphasize how to examine the study of the mind from a Christian perspective and how to apply those concepts in the fields of counseling, social work, teaching, non-profit work, and the like,” she said. “One of the important concepts in psychology is that of modeling—we are expected to live out the concepts we are teaching. This puts our students in a unique position to lead others in healthy behaviors and patterns of thinking, hopefully pointing people toward more positive relationships with one another, but also a solid relationship with Christ.”
Offered entirely online, Trevecca’s Bachelor of Arts in psychology program allows students who already have at least 40 hours from an accredited institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. Upon graduation, graduates will be able to use professional knowledge of psychology theories and their application in nonclinical positions across a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, social services offices and nonprofits.
Mills says the program challenges students to go beyond surface-level answers to questions about the “whys” of human behavior.
“We look at the origins of human behavior from a biological, psychological, social and spiritual perspective,” she said. “We also examine ways in which to shape and change unhealthy behaviors and work to correct difficult relationships and cultivate fulfilling relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others in our spheres of influence.”
The curriculum seeks to view psychology from a Christian viewpoint, she says, while preparing students for graduate programs.
“Psychology and Christianity have often had an adversarial relationship in the past,” Mills said. “However, we look for biblical ways to link the two schools of thought and then explore ways to apply what we’ve learned to help those in need.”
For Long, the program offered her a chance to grow both professionally and personally—something she was certainly celebrating when she received her degree at Trevecca’s Commencement Convocation on May 4.
“At first, [going back to school] was solely about earning the degree,” she says. “To my delight, I quickly learned it was about so much more—changing me, in the best ways. Not only was my mind enlightened, each week I was personally stretched and invited to engage in classroom participation with vulnerability and transparency. Subsequently, I was promoted at work [and] my family life improved.”