ACA Blog

Feb 07, 2013

When an M.Div Is a Turn-Off

I’ve recently begun a new adventure in my professional life. I have joined a new therapeutic community and am building my practice here in Atlanta. I know the statistics. I know that there is a possibility that I will fail, AND there is also this possibility that I won’t. To take this step is huge. In terms of personal growth, it means that I’ve acknowledged the risk and still decided to act in the direction my spirit hopes to go. In discovering different ways to market myself and my unique way of being with clients, I have come across a few insecurities- one of which has to do with my Masters of Divinity degree.

I have begun to wonder, “Is my M.Div a turn-off to people?”

Certainly, I am aware of the ideas surrounding this (or other) theology degree(s). Before I began my studies, I had some of the very same thoughts. Assumptions about political standings, conservative viewpoints, literal interpretations of books and things, etc. exist. We have not even gotten into negative experiences surrounding religious figures…

There are, at the same time, studies that show that spiritual satisfaction and comfort are an important aspect of a meaningful life. There is my belief that individuals are spiritual beings (note: not necessarily religious) and that certain uniquely- trained individuals can help facilitate spiritual exploration.

How can I reconcile the ideas many people hold and my actual position in an online advertisement limited to 50 characters?

I write about it here. :-)

In times where spiritual satisfaction and comfort is changing or missing, therapy can be a helpful mode of working through the feelings surrounding such times.

Clients working through spiritual exploration are often:
• Feeling distant from God
• Experiencing a lack of meaning or purpose in life
• Finding worship to be without meaning and boring
• Withdrawing from a faith community
• Arguing with a partner about religious beliefs or commitments
• Facing prejudice due to religious/spiritual beliefs or commitments
• Making decisions or taking actions incongruent with who they want to be
• Facing criticism from faith communities or other religious persons
• Struggling with religious condemnation for sexual orientation or gender identity issues
• Struggling and processing through trauma and/or mass crises or experiences that do not seem to align with a prior belief in a “loving God”.
• Yearning for some new form of relationship with God or your Higher Power that gives life meaning

What if M.Div meant that I am a calm, non-judgmental presence to all- no matter religious affiliation, belief system, and/or feelings about spirituality as a whole?

What if M.Div meant that I am a person who could help individuals create or re-create their spiritual self and explore what faith might look like to them?

What if M.Div did not bring to mind a picture of one person in power imposing religion on another?

Religions are a foundation for many, and they have also been used to oppress and hurt people. What if M.Div meant I am specially trained to work through pain and anger and loss with those who have had such experiences?

What if M.Div suggested that I am uniquely qualified to sit with people in these uncomfortable spaces, because I too have been there and struggle with these things as well?

What if M.Div wasn’t a turn-off?


Megan Broadhead is a counselor in Atlanta, GA who is entangled in the pursuit of theological and psychological integration. For more information about Megan or her practice, please visit www.meganbroadhead.com

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  1. 1 Nancy Beach 18 Feb
    Megan,  I loved this blog entry.  Thanks for writing it.  I have completed 4 units of CPE and loved it.  I'm not finishing the certification since my religious brothers don't like the idea-I'm Catholic and female. I honestly believe this is not necessary since I believe my ordination and vocation is as Healer, RN, LPC and Lay Chaplain came at Baptism(before&since). I've stopped putting the chaplain and nurse a way, they simply are apart of me and I am specialized. ( another reason not to pursue certification-not necessary! LOL)  
    My question to you is Do you have any suggestions about what I should include in a presentation to other mental health professionals who want to know the nuts and bolts around using Spirituality with counseling.  It seems to be more acceptable in your area with the whole peer group to use spirituality but I am curious how its being used.  We also have a VERY Christian evangelical group/churches in this area-topic of hot debate within our counseling community-lots of abuse, not sexual to my knowledge.  Also, we have our fair share of DID clients too, awful spiritual backgrounds!. I would appreciate any assistance.  Thanks again for the blog and information, loved how you presented it too., I just substituted me in there  Hope you don't mind....LOL

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