Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Counseling student stretches himself in graduate program

Joel Makin

“Be prepared to invest time. Be prepared to put a majority of the learning on your own shoulders. Be prepared to grow spiritually and mentally.” — Joel Makin, student M.A. in Counseling

The client was angry, and the frustration was coming out verbally. Joel Makin quickly did his job.

“I could see the situation evolve into a crisis,” Makin said. “I was able to redirect the client by allowing him the opportunity to distract himself.”

“Distracting” refers to Makin’s question: was the client experiencing tenseness anywhere in his body? The man answered yes, in his shoulders, and began calming down as his focus was redirected towards his natural body processes.

Makin, a behavior health technician for Park Center INC. in Fort Wayne, is currently enrolled in Huntington University’s Masters of Counseling program, preparing to graduate in 2011. He came into the program with a Bachelors degree in psychology from HU.

Reflecting on the angry client who calmed down under his direction, Makin pointed out that a coping mechanism like focus redirection is helpful, it isn’t the main goal.

“It is merely a step towards greater awareness of self processes,” he said. “Deeper self change is the ultimate goal instead of symptom elimination.”

HU’s graduate counseling program has a client-centered and Christ-centered emphasis Makin said, which helped him prepared his approach to various types of clients, such as the one at Park Center INC.

“It is only through putting myself in his shoes and empathizing with such a basic emotion as anger that I was able to stay calm and offer him a chance to step back and realize what was happening,” he said.

When Makin was doing his undergraduate work at HU, a class with Jerry Davis, Ph.D, professor of counseling, got him “instantly hooked” on counseling, and strongly influenced his choice in HU’s graduate program.

Specifically, Makin appreciates the place given to biblical principles within the counseling teaching. The point, he says, is not to incorporate biblical principles into practice, but to develop “a solid foundation to stand upon when treading through the muddy waters of developmental arrests of others.”

Be because of faculty, the program set-up, or the Christ-centered focus, Makin encourages those interested in the program.

“Be prepared to invest time. Be prepared to put a majority of the learning on your own shoulders. Be prepared to grow spiritually and mentally.”