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Calgary-based counselling grad feels called to “assist the Holy Counsellor” in healing brokenness
2017-04-18
Maggie Jiang never dreamt she’d be graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology. And from a Christian institution, no less.
 
“Studying a counselling program in a seminary was beyond my wildest imagination!” says Jiang, a former atheist who was born and raised in China. “I didn’t know God until I landed in Calgary with my husband and our son in 2001.”
 
They went to church the day after arriving in Canada—invited by a friend—and Jiang cried through most of the service. She didn’t even understand the lyrics to the English gospel songs; it was the Holy Spirit, she says, that filled her heart and provided “a sense of belonging.”
 
Having settled quickly and found meaningful work, she and her husband soon joined a cell group and were baptized in 2004. Jiang enjoyed studying the Bible and serving in the Chinese church, and it was there that she realized the “brokenness and vulnerability” of people in the immigrant community.
 
“Immigration is a huge transition and requires a lot of adjustments,” she explains. “It’s very common to see broken marriages, rebellious children, financial struggles, language barriers and difficulties integrating into new societies and cultures.”
 
Jiang wanted to help, but didn’t feel suitably equipped. She was also unaware of the Christian counselling field.
 
“I felt restless at work as a senior accountant for a while,” she says. “Then I resigned from my job in August 2009. I studied the Bible and prayed for direction.”
 
In March 2012—a Saturday, she recalls—God revealed his plan for her through a vision in which Jesus was healing people.
 
“He asked me to watch how He healed people,” she says. “He guided me into caring for the broken.”
 
Shortly thereafter she started searching for Christian counselling programs and came across Providence on the Internet. By the end of March she had attended an information session held by Providence Theological Seminary’s Calgary extension site; by September she was taking classes.
 
“The Providence counselling program was unique in its integration of psychology and theology, of theories and experiential learning,” says Jiang, who will graduate this weekend. “It also enabled Christian clinicians to fulfill their callings in various settings. I was proud to be a Providence student because of our solid and wider knowledge foundations and our opportunities for hands-on experience.”
 
Jiang points out that during her practicum experience she noticed that counselling students from other programs were using mostly cognitive behavioural therapy, having never received training in neuroscience and neuropsychotherapy. Her Providence education, on the other hand, equipped her with knowledge in neuroscience, attachment theory, emotional-focused therapy and several other therapeutic models.
 
She cites Dr. Rolf Nolasco, Providence Theological Seminary’s Calgary-based Professor of Counselling Psychology, as a fount of theoretical knowledge and clinical wisdoms, adding that she also appreciated “his compassionate presence toward human suffering.” And Dr. Glenys Wirch, she says, supported her over the course of her studies by offering encouragement and spiritual guidance.
 
“She has been the stronger, wiser, bigger and kinder therapist for me and many others,” she says of Dr. Wirch, Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology at Providence.
 
Finally, Jiang credits her family and her church for supporting her as she pursued her degree.
 
“I came into this program with the strong support of my husband, my son and my faith community,” she says. “My church supported me and allowed me to adjust my ministry involvement.”
 
She adds: “It is by the grace of God that I finished this program. I’d love to recommend the Providence to everyone who has a sense of calling toward Christian service.”
 
LEARN MORE about studying counselling psychology in Alberta.
 
(Top to bottom: Maggie Jiang, Dr. Rolf Nolasco, Dr. Glenys Wirch.)
 

         

 
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