Social Work and Ministry in Service to Others

Being a dual degree student, obtaining a Master’s in Divinity and a Master’s in Social Work, one question I am often asked is what career opportunity do I plan to pursue using both of these degrees. Let me start by saying that I have pursued both of these degrees because they both possess intrinsic qualities that match my life passion for seeking spiritual and practical methodologies for life transformation. These qualities include a passion for ministry and a desire to clinically assess and assist individuals with coping, functioning, and living out their life towards their best potential. Throughout my graduate studies and internships, I have not identified a specific job title that requires both qualifications. However, I have worked in medical and non-medical settings and what I have surprisingly discovered is the integration of these disciplines and how they often overlap, especially at some of the most traumatic times in a person’s life.

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It is in service to people that one best recognizes the convergence of these disciplines. For example, last week in the Emergency Department, I sat with a mother whose adolescent son was being committed for the first time for psychiatric treatment. Appropriately, the mother was crying, and the further heartbreaking situation was her thoughtful adolescent son was reassuring her he would be fine. In this setting, as the clinical social worker, an assessment of family needs was performed and enacted. The ministerial side of me silently prayed for the mother and their family, not only for this moment in time, but for God’s strength and guidance through the entire event. This was an alternate way of exercising my faith in God on behalf of others. Another example is in a church setting, a college age young lady was crying because her pastor questioned her faith in God because she had agreed to speak with a therapist. I was able to share with her God’s unconditional love for her, openly pray with her, and clinically assist her with an action plan for working with her therapist and pastor. At this point in my journey of discernment and discovery, I do not know what specific career I will pursue, but I already know I will use both disciplines in service to others.


About Theresa Bayless

Candidate M.Div/MSW, Direct Practice, Final Year
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