Experiences and Reflections from Program Faculty and Alumni
"As an international student from China, I was both excited and anxious when I arrived at Wheaton College. While I felt privileged to be surrounded by my great cohort and faculty, I was concerned if I could graduate from the program due to my language and cultural challenges. However, I soon found myself respected, valued and cared for in class and in community. This nurturing environment at Wheaton allowed me to explore myself deeply and grow professionally. The professors modeled the power of therapeutic relationship and the meaning of multicultural counseling.
Also, my burden for the underserved grew during my years at Wheaton, inspired by the mission of the program and the lives of the faculty. My practicum and internship site also gave me exposure to marginalized populations. With the love I received from Christ and the community, I hope to bring all that I have learned back to China in the near future."
"Something distinct about Wheaton is that they arrange programs in a cohort model. Naturally, this lends itself to both insightful and challenging discussion, meaningful conversation, and deep, lasting friendship. Moving through each semester with the same set of faces offered a sense of safety and stability, while providing crucial community for us to grow in, as both students and professionals. Our professors engaged passionately with both class material and students, teaching us the latest research and empirically based practices while instilling within us a desire to be the best counselors that we could be. They were always willing to lend an ear or provide a space to process what was on our hearts. Having this community, amongst peers and faculty/professors was critical to my own development and I am so grateful for it.
Day one we were told; "The ground is level at the foot of the cross." This would become a way to conceptualize our clients, as well as a way that we could relate with one another. Any and all competition was friendly and encouraging. When we were tempted to be prideful about our accomplishments, therapeutic successes, circumstance, etc., we were reminded yet again; "The ground is level at the foot of the cross." This reminder taught us (me) to dignify and humanize our own weaknesses (and strengths), but also those of our clients, our coworkers, our classmates and our professors.
When I first moved to Wheaton, after spending the previous two years in Guatemala, I thought; "What am I doing here?" "Where in the world did I end up?" The contrast between the culture I had just been living in and the one I was committing to for the next two years was mind boggling. For the first month, I asked myself those questions daily, but overtime, I stopped asking myself those questions and found myself asking, "Why not here?" As I did so, I found so much more than just a great education. I found friends, a home, professional mentors, role models, research opportunities and an internship (now job), working with at risk, minority youth, that I love with my whole heart.
Looking back on my experience in the CMHC program, I can say without a doubt that this was where I was supposed to be. Wheaton's program emphasizes professional orientation, diversity, competency of practice and integration of Christian faith with counseling theory. I was first drawn to the CMHC program's emphasis on the empowerment of servant practitioner scholars to serve the underserved both at home and abroad. Now, as I prepare to move back to Guatemala, the experiences that I have had here have unquestionably equipped me to work more competently. Wheaton has both sharpened me and refined me. I am stronger in many ways, but softer in others. Leaving Wheaton, I am sure that I have chosen well. I am more confident in the skills that I have to bring to the table but humbled by the knowledge that I have so much more to learn. Nonetheless, I am glad that I had the opportunity to begin this journey at Wheaton."
"What I appreciated the most about Wheaton College’s CMHC program was its emphasis on holistic growth. My expectation going into the program was focused on the academic rigor of the technical training, so I was pleasantly surprised by the equal ground given to areas of personal, emotional, and spiritual development. Not only were we trained to become competent clinicians, we were pushed to explore our own identities and who we are in the counseling room. We learned the importance of asking our clients thoughtful and deep questions, and we wrestled with those same questions within ourselves. After going through this program, I have gained a greater understanding of what it means to walk alongside and be a therapeutic presence to someone.
All members of the faculty were incredibly supportive of the students and they always tried to meet us where we were at. You knew that they really cared about you, and they weren’t just focused on getting us to graduation, but rather to make us great clinicians for life. They genuinely cared about how we were growing as a person, and not only as a counselor.
Finally, the cohort experience is what made this program truly memorable. There is something special and powerful about going through the two years of this program together. Being surrounded by future therapists was a unique opportunity and the chances to learn from each other were plentiful. On days I struggled with certain clients or with personal problems, I could turn to my cohort mates and find generous support. I am incredibly thankful for all the lifelong friendships I have made through this program and am overwhelmingly blessed to have been a part of this group."
"You will leave this program sadder, but wiser."
"I distinctly remember these piercing words that a professor spoke over us the first semester of my time in the CMHC program. At the beginning, I thought them to be rather bleak and perhaps not the most encouraging pep talk that I had received. I mean, who really wants to become "sadder"? However, after completing the program and graduating, I have a deeper understanding of what he meant by this phrase.
Wheaton has prepared me emotionally, spiritually, vocationally, and mentally for the counseling profession. At times, this meant doing the hard work required in the program of personal therapy, group therapy, and often learning how to engage well with other people's pain.
The CMHC program is committed to shaping the whole person and providing students with excellent clinical training as well as rich spiritual practice and guidance. I became well versed in my ability to engage on a diagnostic level and apply empirically validated interventions to my work with clients. The professors that I engaged with on a weekly basis cared deeply about my holistic growth. They both educated us on a clinical level and yet showed interest in how we were doing in our personal lives. I was deeply shaped by the experience of the cohort. With this model, we were able to take classes and walk through life together for two years.
During the program, I was able to develop a niche and work toward my vision of doing therapy with adolescents. The professors support students' ideas and visions for what they felt called to do. This was such a gift. I left Wheaton with a deep sense of gratitude and a confidence that I had been well prepared for my work as a clinical mental health counselor."