As a Division 1 athlete, Dr. Hannah Wildasin experienced the pressure of sports first-hand. While navigating through an ACL injury, surgery, and recovery, she dealt with depressive symptoms. As a freshman in college, she began to see a counselor. Her positive experience led her to becoming a counselor herself. Now, as Grace College’s Assistant Professor of Graduate Counseling, she teaches counselors-in-training to facilitate the same growth and healing she experienced as a college student.
Let’s get to know more about Wildasin’s journey to becoming a counselor!
1. Tell us more about your experience of becoming a counselor.
My introduction to counseling came through my own personal experience as a client. During my freshman year of college, I experienced depressive symptoms. I was attending an academically rigorous school and playing Division I volleyball. I lived much of my life working toward my next goal, thinking that achievement would fulfill me. Yet even after reaching these goals, I felt unfulfilled. While I grew up in a Christian family, I was also in a season of wrestling with my faith. I had to figure out how much of my faith was my own and how much of it was simply inherited from my parents and other influential adults in my life.
I decided to give Christian counseling a shot and greatly benefitted from the experience. I recognized that I was practicing idolatry — trusting in achievement and performance rather than God for my purpose, identity, value, and worth. My personal experience in counseling, deep love for people, and desire to help people heal, grow, and change led me to becoming a counselor.
2. Walk us through your higher education journey.
I completed my freshman year of college at Lafayette College. After taking a gap year, I transferred to Liberty University and completed my undergraduate studies there. I completed my Master of Arts in Counseling degree at Biblical Theological Seminary (now Missio Seminary) and continued to earn a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University. I’m licensed in both Pennsylvania and Maryland, and I have over thirteen years of counseling experience.
3. What did you do during your gap year?
I participated in a program called Mission Year, in which I lived and served in a neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. I taught adult literacy classes and worked with children in an after-school program. It was a year of intense discipleship.
4. What courses will you be teaching at Grace and how does your faith inform the way you teach counseling?
This fall, I’m teaching Psychopathology, Counseling Skills, and Human Development for Grace’s Christian counseling online degree. I will teach all of these classes through the following beliefs that shape my philosophy of becoming a counselor:
- I believe that I have the privilege to serve as Jesus’s ambassador by facilitating healing, redemption and reconciliation in the lives of others. Counselors illuminate their spheres of influence with the light of God. According to Isaiah 61:1-2, ESV, God calls us to “bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty, to comfort all who mourn.”
- I also believe counselors and counselor educators have a unique ability to empathize and that we’re uniquely positioned to seek justice systemically in a spirit of humility.
- Lastly, I believe that we are dependent upon God for wisdom, rest, and renewal in our careers to avoid compassion fatigue and burnout.
5. Did you have a specialized focus area in the counseling field?
As a former Division 1 student-athlete, I uniquely understand the mental health side of sports. In my private practice, I work primarily with athletes in high school and college. I address athletes’ overall mental health with an emphasis on performance.
6. What is your best piece of advice to a future counselor?
We’re a tool in the therapeutic alliance and process, which means we need to walk closely with the Lord and allow Him to continue His redemptive work in our lives. To be a good counselor, you must be empathetic, humble, an active listener, and a lifelong learner.
7. What is a little-known fact about you?
I coach middle and high school girls’ volleyball. This is little-known in the Grace community, though not in my local community.
If becoming a counselor is on your to-do list, explore Grace College’s Christian counseling online degree.