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Southwest’s Spiritual Integration in Counseling Scholars Contribute to Larger Counseling Conversations

Southwest’s Spiritual Integration in Counseling (SIC) Scholars prepared a display on “The Counseling Body: Exploring Embodiment and Therapeutic Presence within Counseling.” They presented it at the Texas Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES) Conference on March 3.

Dr. Awa Jangha, the Loise Henderson Wessendorff Associate Professor of Spiritual Integration in Counseling, along with alumna Mary Carlisle McMahan and current student Jacqueline Vidal were the presenters at the conference. They were able to confidently engage with counselor educators and supervisors in answering questions and describing the information within the poster.

“Presenting at a professional conference allows for connections to be made with graduate students, counselor educators, and supervisors,” Jangha said. “The experience also allows for growth in engaging in presentation skills where students were able to articulate what stood out to them from their research on counselor’s use of their body as a source of information when attuning to clients, self-regulating when countertransference arises, and creating therapeutic presence.”

Students Vidal and Regan Emfinger also shared the poster at a Southwest community hour on March 20th.

“It was great to see Jacqueline and Regan interacting with peers and sharing about the work they had researched around how counselors can somatically be present and provide an impactful therapeutic presence that can allow for self-regulation of both counselor and client,” Jangha said.

The poster was originally created by Janga, Vidal, Emfinger, Mary Carlisle McMahan, Jane Obi, Debbie Seeger, and John Thomas.

The SIC Scholars also hosted the Brain and the Spirit event featuring Dr. Gena St. David on April 17 at Southwest. There were about 50 people in attendance, including prospective and incoming students. SIC Scholar Jane Obi gave the introduction and facilitated the Q&A portion of the presentation. 

“Gena utilized wonderful imagery, intriguing neuroscience videos, and experiential practice of tuning into the body to walk the participants through her process of crafting her book,” Jangha said. “We went with her on the journey of what sparked her interest in the intersection of neuroscience and theology and were blessed to witness her sharing of her thought process and questions that guided the rich content in her writing. Explaining the basics of neuroscience, incorporating relational cultural theory, and engaging in theological reflection are no small tasks, but Gena did so with clarity and compassion. It was a wonderful experience to learn from her and be inspired by where she continues to go in her ongoing inquiry on the matter.”

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