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Program Director Q&A with Paul Jones, Ph.D.

Paul Jones Q&A


What do you believe is the most valuable element of your program?

The Graduate Programs in Counseling at SNU is designed to be a more than just a program that prepares students for a vocation in the field of counseling. Our belief at SNU is that character and personal development matter in terms of how counselors create space for change and healing in the lives of people who need a new path in life. As such, our program is designed around a curriculum that does much more than present techniques and information to be consumed by students. Instead, our curriculum is designed to be a process of personal growth that increases self-awareness, develops personal and social insight, and offers an overall transformational process that allows our students to become people who can truly listen to the stories of others, value others and their differences, and intentionally provide a clearing for those others to explore, play, and create new possibilities for the future.

How/Why did you enter this field?

The answer to how or why I entered the field of psychology is long and complex. To simplify it, I was first compelled by the significant questions about what it means to be human and how people can live a good and meaningful life with others. This drew me not only to psychology, but also to theology to explore these questions in full ways. Following my undergraduate experience at SNU, I went to Fuller Theological Seminary so that could pursue an education that fostered my passion for integrating theological and psychological questions and exploration. I was trained as a psychologist and therapist, allowing me to practically apply what I have learned to creating healing spaces for others. My opportunity to return to SNU has allowed me to continue to invest in this exploration and to offer a space for my students to enter these explorations with me, to be a part of this important conversation, and to seek out their own ways of being healing agents in the world.

How does a student succeed in your program?

I believe students succeed at the highest levels in the Graduate Programs in Counseling by being passionate, curious, and fully invested in their educational process. Passion is what motivates students to persist in graduate education, particularly an education that leads to a vocation of placing the healing of others first. Curiosity is what opens up education. It moves students from being just learners of concepts, to seekers of truth and participators in a process that is dedicated to discovery and creativity. Investment is what allows students to be dedicated to the challenges and overcoming the obstacles that are faced in becoming formed by the ways of a true education.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your program/industry?

To someone interested in our graduate program, I have a couple of recommendations. First, really educate yourself about the field of counseling and about graduate school. Find out what different programs offer and what the vocation of counseling is really like. Learn what different graduate programs value and what they teach and make an informed decision about a graduate program that works best for you and is consistent with what you want from a graduate education. Second, begin investing in the process of self-growth and development even before entering graduate school. If a person is passionate about being a counselor and desires to be an agent of change for others, that person also needs to be willing to be the recipient of such a transformational experience. We encourage our student to pursue their own counseling while in the program, so taking this on as a means of growth is highly encouraged.

What course is your favorite to teach and why?

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many great things about each of the courses and subject matters that I teach. However, if pressed, I would answer that teaching the Philosophy of Interpersonal Relationships course for our graduate program is one of the highlights I experience each year. This is a seminal course for our program, and I co-teach it with Dr. Ron Wright. We have creatively poured so much of ourselves into this course and have been so intentional about the way that it is taught and what students receive from it, yet it takes on new forms each time we teach it. It really is a course that represents the uniqueness of our particular program at SNU.

What is your favorite book/podcast?

Two of the most formative books that I have read are "Love’s Executioner" by Irvin Yalom (a book read by our graduate students) and "Glittering Images" by Susan Howatch. These books really shaped the trajectory of my education and even career path. I love podcasts and the ones that I really recommend are "Revisionist History", "Radiolab", "1619", and "Invisibilia".


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