I’m taking some time off to finish my Marital and Family Therapy degree (MSMFT). I will finish this June (holler) and be ready to move on to a full-time therapy gig. I am fully engrossed in my practicum hours right now, which have been a great learning experience. If you are thinking of joining the MFT program here at Fuller, the end of your 2nd year (where I am now) is when you really get going in your practicum hours and start putting all that you have learned into practice. Good stuff.
I have several posts below if you are interested in reading, but for now, I’m out.
Everyone knows that the holidays are about having a spirit of gratitude. Every year around the holidays we all feel paradoxical tension of gratitude among our family and relatives. We are thankful to be together with those we love, but at the same time, we are thankful that we only see them once a year. I am not sure about other seminarians but I always find myself getting asked to pray during the holidays, “Oh, Pisey…you’re in seminary…can you pray for us?” Being in seminary does have its privileges and responsibilities. Not that I have an inside track to God, but I am thankful that I have the opportunity to study at Fuller to explore what it means to be a bearer of God’s image and peace. While I was in the M.Div program I was thankful that I was able to ask difficult questions about theology and culture. I am thankful that Fuller was a place that took cultural context seriously, particularly how culture shapes theology and how theology informs culture. Being at Fuller is an honor and being invited to pray during Thanksgiving meals reminds me of that privilege and honor.
Moreover, I am thankful for Fuller’s MFT program. Having gone through the process of exploring my family dynamics, it has been encouraging to realize that there is no such thing as a “perfect” family. And being with my family during the holidays reminds me that my family’s quirks are somewhat “normal.” Fuller’s MFT program has provided the space to explore my family dynamics and understand why my family members do what they do. I am so thankful for the insight that I have gain from exploring my family history while at Fuller. In all honesty, I am so thankful to have a deeper understanding of my family wounds and as well as legacy of resilience. Fuller has allowed me to open up some old family wounds and provided me the space to heal. Instead of feeling bitter and resentful during the holidays, I have come to have greater appreciation for the gift of family.
Working at Admissions I often get phone calls from theology students inquiring about the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program. Having gone through the M.Div process myself, I have a great appreciation for the depth of insight and understanding that I gained about the Scriptures, church history, ethics, and theology. After my training, I felt prepared to teach and preach, but I still felt like lacked in the area of pastoral care. During my pastoral internship, I was expected to develop my teaching and preaching gifts, which were things that I felt comfortable doing. But when it came to sitting with people’s pain and woundedness, I felt a little uncertain and uneasy. When all of my practical advice and Christian clichés ran dry, I discovered that all I had left was my own sense of vulnerability and inadequacy. I thought that after seminary I would not feel these emotions again, but little did I realize that studying for ministry and doing ministry are not often the same things.
When sitting with people’s pain, I found it unsettling. I only took one pastoral counseling course in for my M.Div degree and that did not seem enough. I pursued the MFT program in hopes that it would further cultivate and develop my pastoral skills. I wanted to learn how to sit with people in their deep, darkest, and most sacred space without feeling overwhelmed or having to give the “right” answers. Because sometimes the “right” answer is not what people need to hear, when all they want is to know that some is present with them. Of course Job’s friends know all about this…
The transition to the MFT program was a process of rebirth for me. It was a journey inwards. I found the assignments and reading life-giving because it forced me to reintegrate aspects of my narrative that I often overlooked and avoided, particularly aspects of the intergenerational pain of my family. I began to realize that I was uncomfortable with people’s pain because I was uncomfortable sitting with my own. My MFT professors would often remind me that healing is in the pain. That is say, it is only when you chase it and face it head on that it will start to lose its shame and power. So, I guess learning to sit in the dark with other is first learning how to sit in the dark with yourself.
The fall quarter is just around the corner and theological excitement is in the air. The Uhaul and Penske trucks are unloading throughout campus and people are walking around campus with a bounce in their step. When my wife and I arrived at Fuller it took us about a month to get settled. I can remember making many trips to the hardware store and IKEA to get various things to decorate our apartment. Once everything started to settle, the seminary process got more real at Welcome Week. Like many out-of-state students, I was unfamiliar with the campus and had little idea of where things where or who I should talk to about certain classes. Even in the midst of the transition I was glad to be present with others on the seminary journey. Welcome Week was about meeting other people and sharing stories about how we all ended up at Fuller. The paths that we all have traveled have led us to this junction, which we get to share for the next season of our lives. Most importantly, I met some of my best friends at seminary during Welcome Week.
As we get older it is more difficult to make friends simply because Continue reading
Many of my colleagues have started seeing clients at their practicum sites and I am getting ready to start. It amazing to me that even after all the coursework, preparation, and in-class training that I still feel nervous about starting practicum. I have spent some time thinking about the process and I realized that the transition from theory to practice is a shift of paradigm of learning. The shift from theory to practice is shift from certainty to uncertainty and transition from being remote to being present.
As students, we can generally predict the outcomes of our work and studies. For instance, when we are given an assignment or a test, we know what we need to do to achieve the desired outcome. Success is fairly certain and predictable. I do the work; I get the grade. To a certain degree, I have some control over how much I study and determine the type of paper I need to write to get the desired grade. What I write or produce will be evaluated by two people, namely the professor or the teaching assistant.
However, in a clinical context I am sitting in a room with other people interacting with them. As we all know human interaction is infinite Continue reading
Community is one of the most essential aspects of the seminary journey but it is also the most terrifying aspect of seminary as well. When I came to Fuller I thought that seminary was about getting theological knowledge in order to feel more secure about myself and my faith. Let’s be honest, we all come to seminary for many reasons and in this season of our faith journey we will be confronted with many of our insecurities. I thought that seminary was going to make me feel more secure, when it fact, it made me more humble. I did not have all the answers and I had to accept the fact that faith is more about mystery than about certainty and control. I thought have theological knowledge and insight would make me more connected to people, but in fact, often made me more isolated. In seminary you will have many conversations and most of the time it will be about some aspect of psychology, theology, ecclesiology, hermeneutic and on it goes…Even though these conversations are meaningful and at times life-giving, they can also become a barrier that keeps you from connecting with other people for fear of feeling incompetent. When you are studying at the masters or doctoral level, feelings incompetence can be crippling when it comes to community.
In my limited experience, community is built upon compassion, courage, and connectedness. No, this is not a three-point sermon on community but let me just elaborate more about these virtues. Compassion is the virtue that Continue reading
Just wanted to give a shout out to the Marriage and Family Therapy program. Applications for the MFT program is now open starting August 1 for Fall 2013. I know how we all like to procrastinate so if you are interested, I would suggest start by looking at the application requirements, spend some time praying and reflecting on the next season of your life, and beat the heat with some refreshing lemonade. Some of us are still feeling the calming effects of summeritis (including myself) and don’t want to think about school yet, but if there are any questions about the MFT program or application process please don’t hesitate to ask.
For more information about the Marriage and Family Therapy program check out the following links:
My favorite class to date was Forgiveness and Reconciliation with Dr. Terry Hargrave. It was class exploring the theory, theology, and clinical practice of forgiveness. What made this class so meaningful for me was not just the information or theory, even it was very insightful to learn how to conceptualized the complexities of forgiveness, it was the opportunity to process my own forgiveness issues. Forgiveness is a truly a divine characteristic because it does not come naturally to me. If I had it my way I would rather blame or escape to cope with the pain that others inflicted upon me or those I love. This classes has showed me that resentment can perpetuate further cycles of hurt and pain within a family system. I have gained gather insight into my own pain and the pain of my family of origin from growing through the process of forgiveness. Continue reading
Name: Pisey Sok
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Rose City–Portland, Oregon.
What brought you to Fuller?
I came to Fuller to pursue a Masters of Divinity and training in pastoral care and spiritual formation. Upon my completion of my first degree, I fell in love with marriage and family therapy and now I am currently in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. My hope is to eventually combine all my passions for theology, pastoral care, spiritual formation, counseling, and psychology. Continue reading