Skip navigation

Care in the Midst of Crisis

Care in the Midst of Crisis

Moody Theological Seminary's InterSessions Counseling Center bringing hope, healing during US mental-health epidemic
  • Eric Romero
  • August 22, 2022

Debilitating anxiety, unbearable depression, uncontrollable anger—these are just a few of the contributing factors fueling the unprecedented mental-health epidemic in the US. Perhaps a spouse, parent, sibling or friend has recently experienced one of these issues.

For residents in the Detroit metropolitan area, the weight of this epidemic is slowly becoming easier to bear.Dr. John Restum

InterSessions Counseling Center, affiliated with Moody Theological Seminary (MTS) in Plymouth, Michigan, has been an oasis of hope in the mental-health field for nearly two decades. Its purpose is twofold: training seminary students as qualified Christian counselors while providing the surrounding communities with life-changing therapy and mental-health services. 

“A lot of the local pastors and churches appreciate our services and refer their members to us,” says Dr. John Restum, pictured here, director of InterSessions and the MTS counseling psychology program. “They trust the fact that they’re going to work with clinicians coming from a Christian perspective and that incorporate faith into the counseling process.”

Full-blown health crisis

The need for quality mental-health care is more prevalent than ever. According to a 2019 study by Mental Health America (MHA), 50 million American adults—20 percent of the US adult population—experienced a mental illness during the previous year. American youth fared worse in the study; 12.2 million (15 percent) had experienced a major depressive episode during the same timeframe.

These disturbing trends morphed into a full-scale health crisis during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the US Census Bureau, more than 43 percent of adults and 58 percent of all Americans between ages 18 and 29 reported symptoms of medium to severe anxiety or depression in November 2020. About half of the Americans experiencing these symptoms were not receiving treatment.

Some of these numbers have tailed off slightly. But there’s little debate that Americans, regardless of age, gender, status, location and ethnicity, continue to battle mental-health issues like never before in the nation’s history.

From classroom to clinic

Established in 2007, InterSessions Counseling Center is conveniently located on the MTS campus just 30 miles west of Detroit. Counseling center student workers apply what they’ve learned in the seminary’s two master’s programs: counseling psychology and clinical mental health counseling. Having a clinic onsite to gain hands-on, practical experience saves students the sometimes arduous task of applying to competitive practicum programs elsewhere.

“Having a clinic right here is unique to MTS Michigan—there’s a direct transfer from what you learn in class to practically working with real clients,” says Steve Hayes, a counseling psychology major.

After completing prerequisite classes, students serve at the center as interns providing counseling services and administrative support for three 16-week semesters. Students’ time at the clinic starts with an intensive and closely supervised four-week training process before even meeting with a client. By the end of their internship, they will have compiled the 600 clinical hours and 150 face-to-face hours needed to receive their licensure.

Currently, a group of 14 interns shares the caseloads of 64 clients while also learning every aspect of how a mental-health clinic operates. Student interns handle everything from managing the reception area and scheduling appointments to billing, maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

Counseling for a variety of needs

InterSessions provides counseling services for a vast array of mental-health issues, including trauma and abuse, depression, anxiety, marriage and relationships, grief and loss, addictions and anger management. The center’s staff and day-to-day operations are supervised by doctors who dually serve at the clinic and on the MTS faculty.

The interns conduct the bulk of the therapy sessions at a cost of $40 per one-hour session. The center also has licensed counselors, usually former MTS interns who have since received their license(s) and been hired as professionals. These sessions cost $75, about 20 percent less than the going rate per session at a typical counseling center.

While many aspects of the center are similar to other counseling clinics, a major difference is the type of counseling services it offers.

“We have everything you’ll see at other clinics, like evidence-based type therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and the rest. But we integrate these proven methods with a Christian worldview,” says Clinic Manager Tim Scarbrough.

Even though the center is clearly presented as a Christian counseling clinic, a significant percentage of non-Christian residents request and receive counseling.

“We love providing the integration to let clients know about Christ, and I’d say only two percent of clients don’t want it,” Scarbrough says. “Overall, Christian and non-Christian patients seem to really respond to the integration.”

‘I felt equipped’

In addition to showing Detroit-area clients the way to better mental health through Bible-based principles, the center also prepares interns for their transition to careers as Christian counselors.

“Many of our students get hired before they graduate,” Dr. Restum says. “Many of them are entrepreneurial and excel at providing services from a Christian integrative perspective. Some have their own offices and often hire other graduates of MTS. So many success stories.”

One such success story belongs to Heather Marscheider, a former intern and employee of InterSessions. Marscheider founded Radiant Life Counseling Centers not long after graduating from MTS’s counseling psychology program. She opened her first counseling center in Wyandotte, Michigan in the fall of 2020, then established a second center in nearby Livonia, choosing communities that lacked quality Christian counseling clinics.

Marscheider practices as both a limited licensed psychologist and a limited licensed professional counselor. When she needed to expand her staff, she hired two licensed counselors whom she supervised as interns at InterSessions.

“The professors at MTS and InterSessions really cared for me and encouraged me as a clinician,” Marscheider says. “When I started looking back at everything I did for InterSessions—the Lord showed me I was really equipped. This is what I was trained to do, and I felt, with His blessing, I could start something new on my own.”

With more than 70 patients and a growing client base, Radiant Life is helping families, couples, and individuals tackle mental-health challenges using the clinical expertise the center’s staff learned and developed in MTS classrooms and at InterSessions.

As the mental-health crisis continues, MTS students and graduates continue to offer ultimate hope.

“The main goal is understanding what clients really need,” Marscheider says. “It’s not to just feed their mind but their soul with the hope of Christ.”

About the Author

  • Eric Romero

Eric Romero is an editor for Marketing Communications at Moody Bible Institute.