Category: Alumni Spotlight

My Calling. My Values. My Seminary.

This blog post is written by Central alum Cory Seibel as part of the “Your calling. Your values. Your seminary.” blog series. 

Over the last several years, I have been journeying through a significant period of transition in my understanding of my calling. After more than two decades as a pastor and seminary professor, I began to discern that God was calling me to prepare to serve as a licensed professional counselor. This came about in part through what I learned about myself while journeying through a rich season of personal growth. As I began to understand and accept important aspects of my unique makeup, I came to recognize that my wiring was well-suited for the profession of counseling. At this same time, I was increasingly being asked to provide pastoral counseling for people within my church. Through this experience, I discovered that I had an affinity for counseling. I realized that I found joy in this work. It was energizing to me. I began to open my heart to the possibility that God might be calling me to make this my primary vocation. My wife and other key people in my life offered their affirmation and encouraged me to pursue a career in clinical counseling.

Transitioning into this new would require me to pursue a relevant master’s degree. For me, this was an extremely stretching thought. It had been nearly a dozen years since I had completed my most recent degree. As I contemplated a return to school, several values came to bear upon my search for the right institution. Some of these values arose from my commitment to my role as a husband and father. I recognized that I needed to find a program flexible enough to enable me to remain in my current job so that I could provide for my family. I also did not want to miss out on valuable time with my family by being required to spend significant periods away from home studying. I also did not want my family to become strapped financially because of my desire to pursue a new career.

As I considered enrolling in an MA in Counseling degree, there were several other values that influenced my search. I realized that I desired to enroll in a program in which I could develop real relationships with my faculty members and student peers. It was important to me that my program would provide me the opportunity to practice the interpersonal skills essential to the counseling profession. I recognized that, when all was said and done, I wanted my faculty members to know me well enough that they could provide meaningful references for me. I also was determined to enroll in an institution that would enable me to explore how my Christian faith would inform my identity and work as a counselor.

The values that informed my search ultimately led me to Central Seminary. Since enrolling in the MA in Counseling program in January 2021, I have been grateful for how Central has made this education affordable and accessible for me. While the demands of seminary education are considerable, my Central experience has enabled me to remain rooted in the life of my family, church, and community. I have cherished how the MA program has afforded me opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with my professors and peers. I also have been provided space to work out my own understanding of the interplay between psychology, the practice of counseling, and the Christian tradition. While completing my clinical internship over this past year, I have discovered that the preparation I’ve received at Central is comparable—and in many respects superior—to that being provided at the institutions where my intern peers have trained.

This fall, I will transition into working as a full-time counselor at Cornerstone Counselling Centre in my city of Edmonton, Alberta. In addition, I will teach a basic counseling skills course for the psychology department at a local Christian university and will undertake part-time PhD studies in the Children, Youth, and Families program at the University of Alberta. I am grateful for the invaluable role Central has played in enabling me to embrace my unfolding calling and in equipping me for what’s ahead.