According to Professor Danielle Johnson, effective teaching keeps Christ and biblical values at the forefront. As an Instructor of Graduate Counseling at Grace, she teaches with the belief that students completing their master’s in mental health counseling online are to bring clarity to an unclear society and light to a darkened world.
Learn more about how Johnson came to this conclusion as she shares her journey.
What led you to the field of counseling?
I always envisioned myself becoming a therapist, even during my childhood. My innate curiosity led me to observe and analyze others’ behavioral patterns, nurturing a desire to facilitate emotional and psychological wellness in others. Although I did not become a therapist until 13 years after earning my B.S. in Psychology, every job I held steered me toward a career in professional counseling.
Tell us about your higher education journey.
My higher education journey has served as a period of growth, both academically and spiritually. After I completed high school, I pursued a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Ferrum College in Virginia. I graduated from Ferrum in 2004. The following years were marked by practical experiences in diverse settings, including working with children diagnosed with severe emotional disturbances and those in addiction recovery.
My decision to pursue a clinical mental health counseling degree crystallized in 2014. With the support of friends and family, I enrolled at Regent University to earn a Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree, a journey I successfully completed in 2017. With prayer and seeking the Lord’s guidance, I embarked on my doctoral studies at the same institution. I am enriching my academic pursuits with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Currently, I’m immersed in my dissertation and eagerly looking forward to completing the program in May 2024.
What courses will you be teaching, and which one is most exciting to you as a counseling professor?
This fall, I will teach Internship I Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and Personality & Counseling Theories. The spring semester will bring Advanced Internship in CMHC, Human Growth & Development, and Assessment & Testing. During the summer, I will teach Ethical & Legal Issues and Lifestyle & Career Counseling.
I am most excited to teach Advanced Internship in CMHC. I get to continue instructing the same group of dedicated students from Internship I, each of whom displays the promising aptitude to evolve into exceptional counselors!
What experience do you have in the field of counseling?
I began my counseling career as a paraprofessional working with children and those with addictions. From 2016 – 2017, I interned at a college counseling center. They hired me to work full-time in 2018, and I became the assistant director in 2019.
In 2021, I discontinued working at the college to invest more time into my doctoral studies, internship, and practicum. I completed practicum at a mental health agency serving missionaries. Soon after, the agency hired me part-time, and I currently still see clients there.
What is your best piece of advice for a future counselor?
No matter what theory you use, interventions you provide, or culture you navigate, remain anchored in Christ. Keep His teachings at the center of whatever theoretical orientation you choose. Doing so maintains a stable moral and ethical foundation and ensures that your practice aligns with the holistic well-being and spiritual development of those you serve.
How does your faith inform the way you teach those earning Grace’s Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree?
My Christian faith deeply informs my teaching philosophy. I seek to foster a learning environment where students are encouraged to unabashedly embrace their Christian identities. In such an environment, they can become luminaries in a world that desperately needs Christ and Christian principles of love, hope, grace, forgiveness, and humility.
What is one little-known fact about you?
I fulfilled my first volunteer role on my sixteenth birthday at a local community resource agency. Although I could not articulate why I volunteered at the time, I genuinely yearned to give back to my community. This formative experience, grounded in the love of Christ, propelled me towards an academic path steeped in purpose and service.
If you, like Johnson, want to give back to your community through Christian counseling, read more about Grace College’s Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree or explore Grace College’s Department of Graduate Counseling.