Ryan Worley was called to counseling. But he didn’t pursue a master’s program straight out of high school or college. He was 34 years old when he first discovered Grace College’s online counseling program that would get him his Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, but it dramatically changed his career and his relationship with God for the better.
In this conversation, Worley reflects on his experience with the clinical mental health counseling program online, where it led him, and his dreams going forward.
Grace: Looking back on your graduate counseling experience, what would you have told yourself when you were just enrolling in the program?
Worley: There will be days that are extremely stressful and overwhelming. But trust the process, the program, and the professors, and embrace the journey that the Lord has for you. Nothing is more rewarding than finding opportunities to meet hurting people where they are, and journey with them towards hope, healing, and healthy living. Remember that this expenditure of time, energy, and capital are an investment in your future and will require perseverance, patience, and prayer! And don’t forget to continually thank your family for the sacrifices they are making to aid you in this process!
Grace: How did you find the online counseling program and what drew you to it?
Worley: When I first investigated the clinical mental health counseling program online at Grace in the Spring of 2016, I was 34 years old, married, and had four children. Occupationally, I was involved in full-time ministry as a missionary. My family and I had spent four years in Mexico and another six at a Bible college in the United States, training the next wave of missionaries. My time in ministry had convinced me of my need to become better equipped to tackle the different challenges that people face. I wanted a more fully developed understanding of human psychology so that I could be a better resource for individuals as I worked with them. I chose the online counseling program at Grace because not only is it accredited at the highest levels (i.e. CACREP), but it also seeks to faithfully integrate biblical truth with current understandings of human psychology. Likewise, I found the price to be very reasonable considering the quality of education.
Grace: What was most beneficial for you about the program?
Worley: The flexibility of the online platform was a highlight for me! Also, the professors invested a lot of time and energy into my academic career, my professional development as a therapist, and my growth as an image-bearer of God.
Grace: Why was the residency helpful for you?
Worley: Residency was helpful to me for several reasons. Firstly, it provided an opportunity for me to get to know my professors on a personal level. Eating in the cafeteria together, chatting between sessions, and interacting during outings allowed me to see my professors as individuals who were doing the work that I aspired to do in the future. They told stories of the highs and lows of their journeys through academia, as well as in their professional practices, which helped normalize my experience and encouraged me to press forward.
Secondly, the residency produced a camaraderie and support system in our cohort that carried us through good times and difficult times as graduate students. Many of those relationships continue to this day.
The residency became a springboard that launched us into the next academic year with a renewed sense of purpose, passion and energy.
Grace: What are you doing now, and how did the online counseling program help get you there?
Worley: I graduated in May of 2019 and I am doing several things now. I am the director of behavioral health at James Place, a psychotherapist at New Life Resources, and I work at Ethnos360 Bible Institute as a student life advisor, part-time faculty member, and discipleship advisor for online education.
My master’s degree was an investment that is now paying dividends in ways that I could have never imagined. It has opened doors of opportunity both professionally and personally and has allowed me to have a greater Christian influence in my surrounding community through the multiple roles I now fill.
As I look to the future, I am excited to keep growing in my craft. I am passionate about working with hurting people and I will wait on the Lord for His leading. My ambition is to love God, love people, and walk in the good works that have been prepared for me.
If your ambition is similar to Ryan’s, check out Grace College’s online master’s in counseling program.