Due to an increased demand for Catholic psychological
training, the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in
Arlington has created the School of Counseling. With two
distinct programs, the graduate school now will be elevated
to the status of a university - titled Divine Mercy
"IPS has been continually challenged by its mission to be
outward focused in response to healing a wounded culture,"
said Father Charles Sikorsky, president of Divine Mercy
University, in a press release. "The new university is a
direct response to the great human and spiritual need for
mental health and helping professionals."
The new School of Counseling will offer an online master's
program in counseling, taught by a new faculty and led by
newly appointed Dean Harvey Payne. The Institute for the
Psychological Sciences, headed by William J. Nordling, will
continue to offer an online nonclinical master's degree in
psychology, an onsite master's in clinical psychology and a
doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
At the practice level, counseling and psychology look fairly
similar, according to IPS Director of Communications Jessie
Tappel. However, they are separate fields that have different
licensing requirements. Offering both programs gives students
more options to help those suffering from mental illness, she
IPS currently has 70-80 students, said Tappel. They will
begin to accept applications for the counseling program in
late January with classes beginning in the fall of 2016. The
university expects a high demand for the new program.
The name Divine Mercy University was chosen, "because our
mission has always been to reach out to the world, to be
beacons of hope for those suffering," said Tappel.
Additionally, the institute has long been guided by the works
and example of St. John Paul II, who established the feast of
Divine Mercy Sunday. Training people to be effective
instruments of God's mercy is at the heart of the school's
vision, said Father Sikorsky.
In the field of psychology, discussing spirituality is not
widely accepted, said Tappel, which makes schools like Divine
Mercy University sought after by those wishing to minister to
others while maintaining their own Catholic beliefs on the
human person, marriage and the family. The institute seeks to
combine philosophy, theology and science to minister to the
"The spiritual, the physical, the emotional, will, reason -
all of these encompass the human person," said Tappel, who
said understanding those many dimensions as well as the
innate human dignity of each person is at the crux of the
school's values. "(That knowledge) will change the way you
treat your client, it will transform your interactions with
them," said Tappel. The expansion of that mission with the
School of Counseling makes it an exciting time, she said.
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