SPC Students Experience Honduras
November 9, 2011
by Rachel Judy
A major component of psychology is the understanding that people in different places and cultures will have different needs and perspectives. Because of this, explained Dr. Jim Sells, a professor in Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC), there is a great need for counselors to listen to and interact with people in a variety of cultures.
This need is the basis for Regent's Mental Health & Missions class, a yearly offering for students in SCP's master's and doctoral programs. A major component of the class this year was a trip to Honduras where a group of 15 students and faculty met with teachers, pastors and other people encountering some of the very issues the students are learning to work with.
In past years, students have traveled to Jamaica and Southeast Asia.
The group worked primarily with Iglesia Transformacion, New Generation School and the Fraternity of Evangelical Pastors conference. They spent time with a children's ministry at local church, visited an orphanage run by American missionaries, presented at a teacher's workshop and toured a psychiatric hospital.
“In the body of Christ, and psychology in particular, we've been pretty western-focused, so it's kind of nice to get outside of America in terms of other cultures,” explained Dr. Glen Moriarty, an associate professor in SPC and another faculty member on the trip.
Master's in counseling student Andreas Bienert is used to travel—he moved to the United States from Vienna, Austria, several years ago, but spending a week in Honduras changed his perspective as well.
“We come from a world that is so materialistic and so focused on comfort and pleasure. We are basically setting standards for life that—if you look at them from a different perspective—are not really standards, but are means that will fade away,” Bienert said. “We're not just Christian leaders in this nation, we're Christian leaders to change the world, which includes everybody and every nation, and in order to do that we need to understand people and be able to dive into the world and accept them where they are.”
Working closely with two pastors in Honduras, the group was invited to attend and present at a pastor's conference and teacher's workshop. Ultimately, it's “a powerful educational experience that extends beyond the reach of a book,” Sells said.
“If you think about the global body of Christ ... then psychology as a part of the body is really just localized in primarily Europe and America ... we have a real opportunity to step outside of that,” Moriarty said. “We don't want to just stay in America.”