When Virginia “Toddy” Holeman was five years old, she wanted to be either a cowgirl or a teacher. As an adult, she decided to pursue a career in education. Throughout her life, she’s worked in churches as a Director of Christian Education, in clinics as a licensed counselor, and now as the professor of counseling and chair of the Counseling and Pastoral Care Department at Asbury Theological Seminary.
“God is the best recycler ever,” Dr. Holeman said. “When I came to Asbury Seminary to teach, all my past experiences were brought into play.”
While working as a Christian educator she encountered families experiencing crises that were out of her skill set. Finding her toolkit lacking, she earned her master’s degree in counseling.
After practicing counseling for a few years, she returned to school for her Ph.D., fully intending to return to full-time clinic work. Then God rekindled her love for teaching.
“I realized I could stay and counsel and do good work, or I could consider teaching and impact the next generation,” she said.
Dr. Holeman describes her journey to become a professor at Asbury Seminary as a miracle. She attended a national level conference for continuing education. By chance, she and Dr. Fred Van Tatenhove, then Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling and Chair of the Counseling and Pastoral Care Department at Asbury Seminary, sat next to each other.
“We got to talking and eventually that lead to them sending me information about the position and hiring me,” Dr. Holeman said.
Each semester, she teaches courses within the mental health and marriage and family counseling degree programs. Her goal is to help students find the resonance between counseling and theology, using the E. Stanley Jones approach that all truth is God’s truth.
“The last time I knew the Holy Spirit didn’t need informed consent to show up,” Dr. Holeman said. “Even though I, as the therapist, may not be able to name Jesus, because I believe all truth is God’s truth, helping people take one more step towards health offers the Holy Spirit an opportunity to work in that person’s life.”
The Asbury Seminary’s clinical mental health counseling program is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and graduates must pass licensure exams to work as professional counselors. As such, the training Asbury Seminary counseling students receive is equivalent with university training, with the addition of theology courses.
“I want our graduates to be able to think Christianly, even if they can’t overtly look up a Scripture during a counseling session,” Dr. Holeman said. “I want our graduates to comport themselves in loving ways toward their clients within the ethical standards of their professional license, so that the love of Christ shines through them.”
In addition to the M.A. in Mental Health Counseling, Asbury Seminary also offers an M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling and an M.A. in Pastoral Counseling. The Counseling Degree Programs are offered on both the Kentucky and Florida Dunnam campuses.
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