Criswell begins counseling degree by night to fit non-traditional schedules

DALLAS?A new master’s degree program in counseling will be offered at Criswell College to help those with limited time and schedules earn a degree in two years?without having to quit their day jobs. The night classes for a master of arts in counseling degree, called “MAC at Night,” is designed to help those who are working full-time, perhaps raising a family, or as the web page says, just have “a hectic schedule.”

The classes are taught Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“I’m amazed at what the Lord has done to have a program like this at all,” saidSteve Hunter, Criswell College’s dean of students who holds theHope for the Heart Chair for Biblical Counseling. “The undergraduate program has been at Criswell for a while, but now we’ve had the first graduate in the master’s program, June Hunt.”

Hunt, whofoundedthe Dallas-based Hope for the Heartministry, initiated the establishment of thecounseling chair earlier this year. Hope For The Heart is a worldwide ministry with a two-fold mission of providing Bible-based counsel to renew minds, heal hearts and bring hope to the hurting, while empowering Christians to disciple others.

The ministry also broadcasts the award-winning “Hope for the Heart” radio program heard daily on approximately 120 stations across America. “Hope in the Night” is Hunt’s live, two-hour call-in counseling program that “helps people untie their tangled problems with biblical hope and practical help,” she explained.

For the fall,Hunter said he anticipates 10 students in the “MAC at Night” program and forsees it growing quickly to twice that size. Based on the quality and diversity of the leadership in the program, Hunter said he sees no limit on how large the master’s program could grow.

“We need two more adjunct professors right now, and we are retaining all of our current professors,” he said.

“It is for both the licensureand the non-licensure students,”Hunter said, explaining that the licensure program requires a 48-hour degree program, which is necessary if a student wants to pursue a careerrequiring him to be a licensed counselor in the state of Texas. This track would also prepare those pursuing a doctorate degree. Graduates, even in the licensure program, still need at least 3,000 hours of counseling experience to be fully licensed,Hunter added.

The non-licensure track has 36 hours of credits, and is for those who want to serve specifically in a church or Christian setting or serve as chaplains, for instance. Pastors who want to hone their counseling skills could also benefit from the non-licensure program.

Offering examples of the diversity of interest the program has drawn, Hunter said, “We have a teacher from First Baptist Church (Dallas) Academy, as well asa worker with Gangs for Christ ministry. We are fashioning this program for all types of students.

Another benefit is that a student can look ahead at the entire two years of courses and know exactly what courses will be offered and when.

“And in the summer, you can earn up to nine credit hours, all in the evening block courses,” Hunter added.

The next big step in the program is offering online courses,Hunter said. Courses for the fall include research and measurement, counseling theories and techniques, conflict management, with solidly biblical textbooks such as Ian Jones’ “The Counsel of Heaven on Earth: Foundations for Biblical Christian Counseling,” and June Hunt’s “Counseling through the Bible.”

The program also benefits those serving inchaplain roles orany professions not requiring licensed professionals.

Cheryl LaMastra is a licensed professional counselor and is an adjunct professor for the MAC degree. She stated on a recent edition of “Jerry Johnson Live” radio broadcast that the program is practical and even gets students to look at themselves first so that they can then more clearly see to help others.

In addition to offering classes at a time convenient for those who cannot attend in a traditional daytime schedule, “MAC at Night” seeks to set the Bible as the standard for counseling individuals.

The goal of the program is to help ministers be more grounded in their counseling ministry, but also to allow any Christian to start a new career or serve more effectively. Hunter summarized the ministry vision for biblical counseling at Criswell as “hope and healing for hurting hearts and homes,” preparing students to have tools for bringing healing to others.

For more information, contact Hunter at 1-800-899-0012 or visit the school’s website at criswell.edu. Click on the “get your MAC” icon at the bottom of the screen for more information.

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