Gabriel S. Dy-Liacco, Ph.D.
Associate Professor (2014)
Assistant Professor (2005)
- Spirituality and Psychological Flourishing
- Trauma, Addictive Behaviors, Mental Illness in Clergy
- Research Methods
- Couples and Marital Therapy
“…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33; KJV)
My interest in the interface of spirituality and psychology grew throughout my adolescence and young adulthood with the results that Matthew 6:33 have brought about in my life. In terms more amenable to psychological research, the perceived quality and character of my relationship with God has influenced the quality and character of my human life, especially my approaches to the healing of wounded emotions, thoughts and relationships. As an adolescent and young adult, Matt. 6:33 served as a beacon that set my course back to Jesus each time I drifted astray. In more personal terms, while growing up I was given the humbling opportunity to witness the deep peace and slow but sure transformation in peers, family and friends who valued Matt. 6:33 amid the stress and tension in their lives. The many times that I was lost in life, my mother and father compassionately and firmly set me back on track with Matt. 6:33 as their guiding principle. More and more as I got back on track, my parents would show me – more by their example than by their words – that a human glimpse of the kingdom I sought was to be found in the realization of John 15:9-12:
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:9-12; KJV)
Several years have passed since my adolescence and young adulthood, and I have come to view my relationship with God as having two overlapping facets: the mystical inner life of prayer and the practical external life of community and human relationships. Both facets are bound by love. At times, my response to this love has been exemplary, and at other times, less than desirable. Nevertheless, in every situation along the way, openness in my inward relationship with God has resulted in practical changes in my psychological and relational experiences in ways that I cannot fully explain. Even now, as I attempt to share this aspect of my personal journey, I am dumbfounded for words and feel goose bumps on my skin.
In the mid-1990s, a counselor with an appreciation for the spiritual life insightfully and intuitively sensed that the development of my relationship with God was the key to my psychological healing and growth. The psycho-spiritual work that was accomplished with the help of this counselor served as one of the catalysts for transition from psychological adolescence to adulthood. Little by little, in this work, the Lord showed me how he loved me, both frailties and talents, and how I could use these well to serve Him and His people.
In 1997, I began my master's studies in pPastoral Counseling at Loyola College in Maryland, continued on to the doctoral program in 1999, and received a Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling in 2006. I taught in Regent University’s M.A. in Community Counseling Program, in Washington, D.C., from 2005 to 2007. After the D.C. campus closed in 2007, I moved to the pastoral counseling department of Loyola College in Maryland (now named Loyola University Maryland). Throughout this journey, the value of a sense of personal connection with God or a supreme Transcendent reality repeatedly surfaced in experiences shared by my academic colleagues and students, and by numerous clients in varied settings such as a military family center, an inpatient addictions rehabilitation center, a community mental health clinic, a private practice and a psychiatric treatment center for clergy.
I view teaching in Regent University’s counseling program as a tremendous blessing and responsibility. It is a blessing to be able to help students ask and answer their questions about healing wounded emotions, thoughts, behavior and relationships. It is also a blessing to be able to study freely and rigorously the interface of psychology, religion and spirituality. Finally, it is both a tremendous blessing and responsibility to facilitate the development of students’ competence in clinical counseling and to engage students in the dialog between contemporary counseling theory and practice and the Christian worldview.