Posts Tagged 'Counselor Education Counseling Psychology'

Ambiguous Loss During a Pandemic

Helpinghands.svgBy Jennifer Rodewald

Grief and loss are complicated matters that directly affect individuals and family systems. These can become more complicated when considering the impact of ambiguous loss, which can come in many different forms. There is the ambiguous loss that involves a physical presence with a psychological absence. This would include people who struggle with addiction, mental health struggles or trauma. The other type of ambiguous loss involves a physical absence with a psychological presence, which could include things such as an elderly parent moving into an assisted living facility, a child leaving the home, losing a job, or having to move. The most relevant current event that reflects ambiguous loss featuring physical absence with psychological presence is social isolation due to COVID-19.

Mental illness struggles are an example ambiguous loss with physical presence and psychological absence. On an individual level, severe mental illness can make it difficult to function on a daily basis (i.e., maintaining good physical and sleep hygiene). This can also extend to the rest of the family system in many ways, such as a family member transitioning into the role of the individual’s caretaker or having more people outside of the immediate family enter the family system by hiring professional help in the home. When discussing mental health struggles that do not overly impact an individual’s day-to-day functioning, there are still other considerations. For example, if an individual is depressed and has a hard time feeling motivated to do either daily tasks or hobbies, others in their family system will feel that impact. On top of that, if the individual cannot communicate their feelings, there can be conflict and higher tensions among the family system. Essentially, there is a lack in psychological functioning that is mixed with being in the physical presence of others, which is a form of ambiguous loss.

We are all dealing with our own individualized ambiguous losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected billions of people’s everyday lives. While my spouse is still going to work, I am no longer going to my internship site. I am lucky enough to be able to do telehealth with the clients that wish to do so, but that number has been dwindling down. I have somewhat abruptly terminated one particular therapeutic relationship because the client just couldn’t talk while in his home, due to others being there who could hear our sessions. There is also the fact that we no longer are going on campus for classes. This has been a difficult transition for everyone, and I wanted the chance to reflect on how it is affecting my family.

I thought a good way to conceptualize how this has affected my family would be to follow Worden’s Task-Oriented Model of Loss. I completed the first task of accepting the reality of the losses just last week. Things have been difficult, and I think it was made more so by fixating on the people, places, and interactions I am missing due to the pandemic. This made it impossible for me to focus on homework assignments and my compulsions significantly increased. Because of my lack of focus and increase in compulsions, my patience was also limited, and it was easier for me to become frustrated with my daughter over things I would not normally be frustrated by. It also meant I was not communicating with my spouse at the level I normally would—I was afraid I would come off as overreacting (surprise, I was sometimes—also underreacting—sometimes at the same time!) and would let things I was worried about or grieving over bottle up until my grief and anxiety would just explode from my eyes (in the form of tears).

I am currently working through the process and adjustment tasks in the model. I have started to be able to address how I’m feeling about the inability to physically be in the same room as friends, peers, and professors. I have also begun to be able to articulate what it is like to work with clients more on the phone as well as to have their therapy terminate earlier than what was planned. I also sometimes think about what it is going to be like when this period of social isolation ends (and when it will actually be, but I realize thinking about that is something that can send my compulsions up, so I try to keep that to a minimum). It will be a different world on some practical, day-to-day levels, as well as on a larger scale for businesses, schools, and families.

As I mentioned earlier, doing telehealth is a different experience with clients. There is one client who simply was unable to do this mode of therapy, so we terminated the first time I called him from home. We had discussed the possibility of therapy ending prior to this call, and it was still a disappointment for me to have to end a month before planned. Luckily for my client, I was able to transfer him to another counselor at my site who is still physically going there for sessions. I am mainly only doing phone sessions with two other clients for the next few weeks. Working with clients has also served as a solid distraction from my own ambiguous losses, even though one of them discusses how social isolation is affecting her (which is understandable). Despite the similar topic, it is so helpful to be able to focus on someone else during this time. I suppose that is another piece being the idea of the “wounded healer.”

Ambiguous loss is something that can affect anyone on individual, family, and systemic levels, with the current pandemic as an example of physical absence with psychological presence. After this pandemic has passed and we get out to the other side, there will still likely be losses to work through. This is why it’s important to connect where we can, stay mindful and grounded if we are able, and to reach out to others and let them know we are not alone in this.

2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Graduate Students: Peter Grau and James McDonald

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Our 2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology doctoral students, Peter Grau and James McDonald, reflect on what this award means to them.

“…the amount of support that we get at Marquette to do the things that we’re trying to do is pretty remarkable. And I know that both of us have had a lot of big things, good things happen this year that I think wouldn’t have happened without the community around us. So, thank you…”

2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Master’s Student: Alice Lindo

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Our Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Masters student, Alice Lindo, shares her reflections on what this award means below.

file[4404]I am honored to have received this award. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. Marquette is such a special community, and it’s great to be in an environment that overlaps with my own personal values. May we never forget where we come from, and always strive to incorporate service, social justice in all parts of our lives, and display excellence by living authentically. Leading by example. Thank you to the faculty in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department who inspire me daily by doing just that. I hope to do the same.

Racism On Our College Campuses: What Can We Do About It?

This post is excerpted from a post written by Dr. Ryan C. Warner (Class of 2019) that originally appeared on gradPSYCHblog.com as a part of the series, “CARED Perspectives,” developed by the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Posts in this series  discuss current events and how these events relate to graduate students in psychology. If you are interested in reading more, please see Dr. Warner’s full piece and follow him on Twitter!

RCP_9005By Ryan C. Warner

Similar to the rest of society, colleges and universities are not immune to racial discrimination. With “Blackface” party incidents and “noose” hangings making news at numerous universities all over the country, racially underrepresented students face challenges beyond the academic scope of tests, papers, and projects.

As a current graduate student of color who has attended various predominantly white universities, I can attest to the fact that racial discrimination can be displayed covertly (e.g., microaggressions) or overtly. These incidences have a profound impact of an individual’s well-being, and can impact their retention and life satisfaction. But the main question is, “what can we do about it?”

At the individual level, we need to all stand up to racial injustice when it occurs. Silence is compliance and only encourages and enhances racial injustice in the world. Individuals of all backgrounds and skin colors should point out bigotry when they see it, which will ultimately create social awareness and bring light to these issues.

At the institutional level, university leaders should make systemic changes to enhance inclusivity for students of color. One example may include requiring that all students, faculty, and staff attend diversity training focusing on racial equality and inclusion. Additionally, ensuring that campuses have a bias incident report system in place can offer a resource for students to document their experiences of racial microaggressions, which may assist with providing evidence that these incidences do in fact exist. This documentation may be useful with further presenting evidence for the need of diversity resources and inclusivity programming.

For additional resources please visit:

Dr. Ryan Warner is a graduate of the College of Education’s Counselor Education Counseling Psychology doctoral program

A Word About Our CECP Diversity Scholarship

gala 2018By DJ Ferrer

My name is DJ Ferrer, and I am the recipient of the 2017 Diversity Scholarship in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology (CECP) program. When I decided to return to Marquette University as a graduate student in the program, my goal was to work with Asian immigrants who are having trouble adjusting to the culture of the U.S. Receiving the scholarship was part of the foundation that helped me as I progressed towards that goal, as the scholarship money was used to help pay for the textbooks that would guide what I learned in the classrooms.

Being the 2017 recipient was also a title that stuck with me throughout my time as a graduate student as it was a reminder of why I was on campus. During the second semester of my graduate studies, I found myself applying to Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center in order to be an intern therapist at the site during the rest of my time in the College of Education. This site focuses on aiding homeless and runaway youth by providing crisis services and therapeutic interventions so that they can have their own foundations towards a healthier future. It was at this site that I learned how much a person’s culture can impact not only that person’s current environment, but also that person’s development as a human and how they got to where they were today.

Whenever I met with the youth at the shelter, I made sure to be as culturally competent as I could be so that I can better help the youth through their situations. I even ended up winning the 2018 Student Volunteer of the Year Award at the site during the second year of my program, which is a testament of how hard I worked to aid the youth at the site. Also, during my second year, I became the Diversity Chair for the CECP’s Graduate Student Organization (GSO). It was during this time that I took the Multicultural Counseling course, which is a required course for Marquette’s curriculum. As the Diversity Chair and a student who was learning more about diversity, I learned just how multifaceted the subject of multiculturalism and diversity can really be. As my time at Marquette comes to a close, the monetary value of the Diversity Scholarship is long gone, but the honor of having the title as the 2017 recipient has stayed with me and will continue to stay with me moving forward as a professional counselor.

My resumé showcases accomplishments such as 2018-2019 Diversity Chair for the CECP GSO and the 2018 Student Volunteer of the Year at Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center, but earlier than both of those achievements, I am proud to list the 2017 recipient of the CECP Diversity Scholarship. My current plans after graduate are still to work with Asian immigrants who struggle adjusting to the U.S. culture, but I am now aware of the other cultural aspects of these individuals and how they affect each other. I would like to incorporate all aspects of the cultures of my future clients in order to best provide therapeutic interventions. This is a value that was stated when I applied for the Diversity Scholarship and that was further expanded upon because of my Marquette experience.

The CECP GSO would like to cordially invite you to attend the 2019 Diversity Gala on May 4th where we will announce to 2019 recipient! Tickets can be purchased ahead of time and help to fund the scholarship for deserving students like DJ!

Welcome, Dr. Lee Za Ong

leeza-ong-2018Dr. Lee Za Ong has joined the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology this fall and will be working extensively with our new Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Degree. We had a chance to speak with Dr. Ong to get to know her better!

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I was born and grew up in Malaysia. I went to Japan for my undergraduate and came to the US for my graduate degrees. I have lived in the US longer than I lived in Malaysia and have been in Milwaukee for 10 years. Before coming to Milwaukee, my family has lived in New York and California and driven across the country twice due to several job relocations.

What is your favorite educational experience?

When students actively engage in class discussion and add on to my ideas.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

I am doing a research project with Dr. Enaya Othman and other colleagues here at  Marquette University. This project focuses on investigating the stigma of disabilities among Muslim women in Milwaukee. I would also like to expand my research project regarding individuals’ attitude toward disability among other ethnicity in Wisconsin or in the nation.

What drew you to Marquette and the College of Education?

The faculty members in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department are diverse, selfless, and engaging with the community. They are collective and are very skilled in lifting up people’s spirits. They are also a group of caring professors who are responsive to students’ needs.

What do you enjoy doing when you are outside of the classroom? 

I have been a board member of IndependenceFirst since 2014, and it has been an honor to be able to promote inclusion and the independent living of individual with disabilities. I have two children in high school and enjoy watching their musicals, band and swim events.  I admire young people’s talents and how they give everything into doing what they love. I hope that the world will be a better place with these passionate students. I also like to build relationship with people who are from different backgrounds. Their life experience and wisdom enhance my personal and professional development. An example could be the stories I listen to on The Moth podcast. The true stories that were told by people in the live show make me cry, laugh and feel in awe during my commute.

Any advice for readers who are interested in learning more?

The quality of the high school’s performing arts and music program are just as good as professional ones. You only spend a fraction of the cost, but you get to enjoy a world class performance by those of ages 14 and up. The children are the hidden treasure of the city. When building relationships with people who are different from you, even the simplest topic (such as food) can help seal a gap. As for The Moth, make sure you have a tissue box nearby. The stories presented in this inspiring podcast can move even the toughest to tears.

Who is your inspiration for your work or your passion?

Individual with disabilities, refugees and immigrants in the community are those who are my inspiration for my work. They have tirelessly demonstrated grit, resilience, endurance, and tolerance so they can build a bright future for next generations.


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