Seventeen graduate students and four faculty members from the Department of Counseling at A&M-Commerce were selected to present their research at the 62nd Annual Texas Counseling Association Professional Growth Conference in Dallas November 14 through 17. The event is the association’s largest annual conference, drawing approximately 2,000 professional counselors.
A&M-Commerce students and faculty shared their knowledge and research on a variety of current topics in the counseling field. According Dr. Zaidy MohdZain, department head for counseling, “Our presence at this state-level professional conference speaks volumes of the caliber of our doctoral students and the professional reputation of our faculty.”
Doctoral students Erin Kaszynski, Shirin Khosravi, Desiree Stephens and Erica Pouncie spoke to conference attendees about the role of school counselors in identifying, talking to, and implementing interventions and coping strategies for traumatized children. Kaszynski stated, “My colleagues and I specialize in trauma work and wanted to facilitate growth and support on this topic because it is not covered in the core curriculum of most counselor education programs.” According to Kaszynski, untreated trauma symptoms can lead to increased emotional and psychological distress later in life.
Doctoral student Kimberly Pearson presented her research on how narrative therapy facilitates post-traumatic growth in families living in shelters or transitional housing. Pearson reported that, “Individuals facing homelessness will experience PTSD, and counselors must utilize evidence-based techniques to reduce the symptoms within a short period of time.”
MohdZain stated that several master’s students from the counseling program also attended the conference, which provided a valuable learning experience. “We not only teach them in the classrooms and counseling laboratories, but we also extend our experiential learning to the real professional world of counselors,” MohdZain said. Graduate students also represented A&M-Commerce’s counseling program at an information booth on the main conference floor.
Presenters from A&M-Commerce included doctoral students Nicole Allen, Crystal Brashear, Damion Davis, Fariba Ehteshami, Josh Freeman, Joshua Hawkins, Donna Hickman, Mignon Jambon, Erin Kaszynski, Shirin Khosravi, Natalie Knox, Marianna Oller, Erica Pouncie, Sarah Silveus, Desiree Stephens and Nancy Thomas; master’s student Bradley Chilcote; and faculty members Dr. Stephen Armstrong, Dr. Chester Robinson, Dr. Erika Schmit and Dr. Michael Schmit.