Photo by Rod Mar

New SPU School Explores the Relationship Between Faith and Psychology

Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Why do these physical and psychological pressures play such significant roles in our lives? How can their detrimental effects be reduced? Do Christians have distinctive coping resources?

All are important questions central to the mission of Seattle Pacific University. Last year, SPU took a major step toward becoming a recognized center for mental health clinical training and services with the formation of the School of Psychology, Family and Community (SPFC). One of SPFC's primary distinctives is an emphasis on the relationship between faith and the practice of psychology.

Nathan Brown, dean of the new school, says its focus holds great promise for students and clients alike. "Faculty and advanced doctoral students are currently engaged in several studies that examine the impact of faith, one's image of God, and other spiritual factors of individual response to stress, trauma and burnout. This is exciting work that underscores the practical effect of faith on our ability to cope with stress and trauma."

Marriage and family therapy student Cheryl McCoy works as a therapist intern at Bridges, a new clinic established by SPU and Emerald City Outreach Ministries in Rainer Valley.

Another distinctive of SPFC is the cultivation in every student of a Christlike ethic of service. Students learn the imperative of reaching out to the disenfranchised and underserved populations in the community. And Seattle Pacific's urban location provides prime opportunities for students to gain field experience in mental health clinics, social service agencies, educational institutions, hospitals and the business world.

The creation of the school consolidates several departments and programs that were already vital and growing contributors to the University. These include the University Counseling Center; Bridges, a new satellite clinic serving the multi-ethnic community of Rainier Valley; the degree completion program in organizational behavior; clinically oriented continuing education programs; as well as the academic departments of undergraduate psychology, marriage and family therapy, and graduate psychology.

Marshaling these different academic units under one comprehensive umbrella reflects the biopsychosocial approach taken by the faculty and students of SPFC. This approach recognizes that many complex factors — be they biological, psychological, social and/or spiritual — contribute to a person's makeup and ability to respond to the challenges of life.

The future initiatives of SPFC are designed to broaden the school's outreach and position of leadership. These may include graduate degree programs in organizational psychology and pastoral counseling; hosting a variety of nationally visible gatherings such as the Conference for Research on the Family; and training world Christian leaders in the behavioral sciences in partnership with training sites around the globe.

Please read our disclaimer. Send any questions, comments or correspondence about Response to
or call 206-281-2051.
Copyright © 2001 University Communications, Seattle Pacific University.

Seattle Pacific University
Office of University Communications
3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, Washington 98119-1997
United States of America