Training Mental Health Counselors
Marsha Wilson understands why more mental health issues and suicide attempts are reported in Black and Hispanic communities, because of the stigma and fear of talking about these problems.
And she’s long been concerned for young people, with one in four people ages 18-24 seriously considering suicide as we near the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marsha and other therapists see our nation as being increasingly desperate for clinical help with a shortage of qualified therapists.
At this time when mental illness is so prevalent, Christians are rising to the challenge of training qualified therapists in this much-needed profession. Marsha is one of those TIU-Florida graduates determined to make a difference.
She first came to Trinity International University–Florida in 2013. “I was looking for a school to get my credentials as a counselor,” says Marsha, “and Trinity was the only place that didn’t treat me like a number. I explored a lot of universities, but at Trinity, it was a personal experience.”
“Trinity was the only place that didn’t treat me like a number.”
Marsha finished her MA in Counseling Psychology at TIU-Florida in just two and a half years. “In my second year, I started working with the professors part-time as an administrative and internship coordinator, plus working at my church full-time coordinating events and Sunday School classes. And I also planned my wedding and got married in the middle of that two and a half years of study!”
Licensed by the state of Florida after her graduation, she first went to work as a part-time therapist at Smith Community Mental Health in Plantation, Florida. She soon became a full-time therapist and then program director. Today, Marsha is the Clinical Supervisor for that agency, managing 15+ therapists, as a qualified supervisor for the state. “This agency sees children through adults with emotional and behavior issues—anxiety, depression, and social challenges. The adults’ cases of bipolar, schizophrenia, panic attacks, and agoraphobia have definitely become worse during the last two years of the pandemic. I think people were isolated for so long that now it’s difficult to recover.”
“I want to train up quality counselors to be a light in the world.”
Marsha also teaches as an adjunct professor at her Alma Mater, Trinity Florida, leading the Practicum and Internship classes. “I enjoy helping people,” says Marsha. “Some cultures don’t consider counseling a need and think that therapy is a stigma, but I want to train up quality counselors to be a light in the world.”
Now taking her education a step further and pursuing a Ph.D., Marsha says she understands today’s adult learners who lead busy lives with their jobs and families, just like she did. “But they want to benefit their churches. They want to be licensed. And they know that the need for mental health counselors is critical. I’ve actually hired quite a few TIU-Florida students,” says Marsha, “and they represent the school well.”
“I’ve actually hired quite a few TIU-Florida students, and they represent the school well.”
Her advice to that person who is “on the fence” about whether or not to pursue an MA degree in Mental Health Counseling to become a clinical therapist: “Do it! If the Lord is placing an opportunity before you, take advantage of it. You’ll be with other adult learners in this program. You can go at your own pace. If you can’t study full-time, that’s okay.”
Marsha says, “I’m passionate about seeing students reach their potential. And I love TIU-Florida!”