Applying a Catholic Perspective to a Secular World

This blog post was written by Abby Kowitz, a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling student at Divine Mercy University. She is also a regular contributor for Mind & Spirit. As I continue the journey in my pursuit of a career in mental health at Divine Mercy University (DMU), each class has been permeated by the Catholic-Christian Meta-Model of the Human Person (CCMMP). This premise document states that are universally applicable to the human person: We are created good and seek what we believe to be the good; we also have free will, rational inclinations and emotions. We each have vocations to work, life, and leisure. And, we are all tempted towards evil, especially when it presents itself as good. To be honest, the CCMMP frustrated me for a long time. It seemed to fuel the fire behind the argument that DMU is “too Catholic” and will limit my future client-base to Catholics only. But even more than that, in my pride, I didn’t think that it was telling me anything new that I didn’t already know (I mean, of course humans have emotions), and simultaneously I felt I was pulling straws in an attempt to actually make it applicable to individuals who aren’t Catholic (the word Catholic is in the title for crying out loud!). Yet it remained, and has been a thorn in my side in every single class I’ve been a part of for the past two years. A few months ago, in an attempt to reduce financial burden during my upcoming unpaid internship, I got a job at a restaurant. At this point, I exited the Catholic environment and entered into the world – as a majority of the population experiences it. Though I’ve worked in a secular setting before, the restaurant business is its own animal. You encounter people from all walks of life, and there is no such thing as a typical server. Ages range from 18 to mid-50s, single, divorced, cohabiting, married, widowed, students, second-jobs, natives and immigrants … the list goes on. What has struck me the most is that I get to know each one of my co-workers the more I learn their innate goodness. Their language might not be something you’d want your small child overhearing, and by no means are they each living what the Church would deem a moral life, but they have good hearts, have their own share of suffering, are working hard to make ends meet for whatever phase of life they are in, and ultimately are seeking purpose in their lives and striving to know their place in the world. Just like me. I’ve been amazed at how relatable my coworkers are, perhaps even more so than my familiar Catholic friends, because we’re journeying on this raw and real road of life; and the authenticity of that experience is what unites us. The CCMMP premise document has taken on a new meaning in that I’m no longer looking at it as a piece of paper that contains a checklist of items that constitute the human person. Rather, it’s a real-time guide that helps to give context to the here and now of the human experience. Whether she articulates it this way or not, the fact that my co-worker is a single mom working to provide for her daughter speaks to her vocation as a mother and the virtue she is naturally living. My other co-worker’s ability to pull me aside and ask how I’m doing when I’m clearly having a rough day shows his orientation to relationship. Philosophical conversations that happen in the back amongst a few of us while we’re stacking dishes points to the fact that each person has existential thoughts and seeks to know their purpose in life. Hearing about how another co-worker seeks to pull the good from his greatest regret in life showed me that he too grapples with not doing the good he wishes he could do and his need to make sense of suffering. The CCMMP encompasses all of this and more. I don’t need to use the language of virtue, sin, redemption, or God, yet the truths that each of these words imply remains the same. What a gift to have an applicable and universal context to rely on. Not only is the CCMMP relative to Catholics, I’d argue that it’s just as if not even more relative to non-Catholics. Why? The CCMMP speaks to the truths written on the human heart and the blue-print with which God designed each one of us, and sometimes, our ignorance of things makes them clearer from an objective standpoint. While it can’t explain or solve every problem, it can place the problem in context, but even more so, provides an understanding of the person, their particular struggles, and how to respond to that real-life encounter. What a gift! Read an excerpt of the Catholic-Christian Meta-Model of the Human Person.

Counseling Degree Ranks Among Best in the US’s ranking recognizes online education institutions that have established high-quality graduate counseling programs in 2018    Divine Mercy University today announced it’s Online Master’s in Counseling program has been recognized as one of the best in the country for 2018 by, a leading provider of higher education research and college planning resources. The ranking highlights accredited, not-for-profit institutions who have developed exceptional academic online programs for students looking to advance their knowledge, skills, and career in counseling.’s ranking uses a methodology grounded in statistical data compiled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The aim is to objectively assess relative quality based on academic outcomes, affordability, and the breadth and depth of online learning opportunities. “Our online Master’s in Counseling ranking highlights education institutions who have established affordable and quality curriculum for students interested in pursuing careers in the rewarding field of counseling,” says Stephanie Snider, Director of “Earning a position on our ranking demonstrates that Divine Mercy University is committed to providing an online program that focuses on successful student outcomes.” To view the full ranking, visit: helps prospective students find the school that best meets their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. They also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help all students get the most from their education and prepare them for the world after college. Sign up to learn more about the Online Master's in Counseling Program at Divine Mercy University.

Recent Graduate Deems University as Innovator

This blog post was written by Teresa Vandal, a Master of Science in Psychology alumna from Divine Mercy University. An amazing thing has happened to me recently, something just 10 years ago I was not sure I would ever get to do. I finished my Master's Degree. What is really amazing is that I was blessed to be able to attend the university I did. Why was I so blessed? You see, the university I attended, if put up against such universities as Harvard or Yale might be still considered fledgling. It is a university that has been around nearly 20 years. It is quite the innovator though because it deals with such a novel concept in that it reintroduces the dignity of the human person in such topics as Psychology and Counseling. Unlike the more traditional forms of Psychology and Counseling that deals only with fixing what might be broken in a human soul, this university believes in the Judeo-Catholic-Christian view of the person as a whole, and so teaches the idea of helping the person to heal through building their whole life back up and thus helping them to not just fix the problems, but to actually flourish. They teach you to take into consideration the potential client's day to day living, their family, their culture, their spirituality as well as their possible spiritual leader, but most importantly they teach you to help the client understand what they might need help with by actually looking deeply and without fear, at who they really are. There are many thought-provoking projects, many discussions on multitudes of topics, a lot of reading assignments and papers, and after each class you may tend to feel brain-fried, but you always feel it was all worth every brain cell if needed. The university also has faculty and staff – from Father Charles Sikorsky, LC, JD, JCL, President of the university, to each and every professor – who truly care about the success of the students. As a result, students tend to not only find instruction on how to help their clients flourish, but also how to flourish themselves. I look back over the past two years as I worked to finish my M.S. in Psychology and I am amazed about how much change occurred in me; a change that had me reach and grow far more than I could ever have imagined, and that not only gives me the courage, but the desire to want to go out into the world, and with God's help, hopefully make a difference in others' lives. Thank you DMU! I will be forever grateful.

Psy.D. Dissertations Address Mental Health Issues

Divine Mercy University and the Institute for the Psychological Sciences celebrated the achievements of the nine doctoral graduates at the 2018 Commencement Exercises. Each of these Psy.D. graduates have been trained to address today's mental health challenges by utilizing advanced psychotherapy skills, psychological testing, and a focus on specific pathologies and concepts within the field of psychology. Congratulations to the newest Doctors of Psychology! See below for the topics of this year's doctoral dissertations (listed alphabetically, by graduate's last name). Krystyna A. Brandt Cultivating Resilience: Contributions of Purpose in Life, Metacognition, and Humility-Honesty (*title may change) Laura Ann Cusumano The Integration of a Spiritually Informed Component with Radically Open-Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Anorexia Nervosa: The Clinical Value of a Catholic Approach to Humble Self-Surrender (Humility) and Responsible Love (Temperance) Amanda Marie Faria Mass School Shootings: Psychosocial Characteristics in the Lives of Perpetrators Stacie Anne Kula Introducing Self-Regulation in School Psychology to Facilitate Psychosocial Maturity in Adolescents Daniel Robert McClure The Confluence of Attachment, Hope, and Beauty in a Philosophy of Communion Gerard Thomas McNicholas Toward a Narrative Approach to Christian Marital Therapy T. Allen Wood Selfobject Needs of Patients in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders Anna Maria Zganiacz Building empathy in therapists in training through reading literary fiction Claudia Chamberlain Zohorsky Psychotherapeutic Cultivation of a Capacity to Love: A Multidisciplinary Approach To learn more about the Psy.D. program, visit our website or call us today at 703-416-1441.
About DMU
Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate university of psychology and counseling programs. It was founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. The university offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology, Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling, Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology, and Certificate Programs.