Tag : psychology

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Giving Back: Psychology in Adoption

By: Noelle Beans

Jana Hunsley at her IWU graduation in 2013

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University strives to help children who suffer from the effects of early trauma, abuse or neglect. The institute accomplishes this by researching these children’s needs to help them overcome challenges – social, behavioral and emotional.

As a sibling to seven adopted children, Jana Hunsley, a 2013 graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), has found her place pursuing a PhD at this remarkable institute.

However, her journey began at Indiana Wesleyan. Due to her family’s composition, Hunsley had always known she wanted to study psychology at a Christian university in order to become a post-adoption therapist.

IWU also offered an honors program, The John Wesley Honors College, which challenged Hunsley academically. That, in combination with the Holy Spirit’s confirmation, led her to call IWU home.

“I fell in love with IWU right away,” Hunsley said. “I tangibly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on campus, and it was like nothing I had experienced in a place previously. During that campus visit, I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me this was the place I was supposed to be.”

This proved to be true as Hunsley met friends who challenged and encouraged her during her time as a Wildcat.

She also met professors who recognized her potential.

She said, “The professors are truly one of the biggest reasons I’m doing what I am doing with my life today.”

The constant support of the faculty at IWU was unexpected. The professors assisted Hunsley in seeing all of the plans God had for her if she would be faithful in her walk with Him.

Professors Dr. Runyan and Dr. Steenbergh were two of the professors who had a lasting impact on Hunsley’s life.

Drs. Runyan and Steenergh invited Hunsley to be a part of their research team. They encouraged her to pursue a career in psychological research.

Although Hunsley became a clinician first, she attributes her courage to step into a research PhD program to their guidance during her undergraduate studies.

According to Hunsley, for the children of God there is power in psychology. Runyan has echoed this belief by stating that research is integral to a Christian university as it will shape tomorrow, influencing textbooks, popular media and the way our culture thinks and lives. Due to her conviction and Runyan’s influence, Hunsley integrates this dynamic into her work daily.

“All that I am doing with my life is because it is exactly where God has told me to go and what He has told me to do,” said Hunsley. “Through my experience of being a sibling to seven adopted children, God gave me skills and experiences to help other adoptive families. He made it very clear that He created me to bring hope and healing to families that have had experiences like my own. My career is just a manifestation of the work God puts in front of me to help adoptive families.”

Hunsley continues to work in ground-breaking research, learning how to care for foster and adopted children.

This research has spread all over the world to enable these vulnerable children to heal. Hunsley has the opportunity to further this work by researching the effectiveness of their intervention, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).

Hunsley also researches the effects of TBRI in different cultures and settings around the world and finds ways to specifically help adoptive siblings adjust well to their families’ adoptions.

 

 

Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Noelle is a sophomore Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College from Greenville, Illinois.

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The Importance of Community : Joe Winger

By: Kendra Housel

Joe Winger and his family at his graduation.

Joe Winger learned several life-changing lessons during his college years at Indiana Wesleyan University that cannot be discovered in textbooks or class lectures.

Winger, who graduated in 2010 with a B.S. degree in psychology, knew as a high school student in Colorado that he wanted to attend a Christ-centered university. After a Google search and a campus visit, he knew IWU was where he belonged.

The years he spent at IWU confirmed his choice, but in a way that he neither expected nor desired. The summer before Winger returned to campus for his senior year, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that primarily affects the lymph nodes.

Winger remained in Colorado to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments during the first semester of his senior year, but he was able to complete his degree thanks to independent study.

“Dr. Tim Steenbergh and other faculty members become advocates for me,” he said. “The opportunity to work on my studies helped me to stay focused and to have a positive attitude during my treatments.” Steenbergh, a Professor of Psychology, has taught at IWU since 2003.

 Winger returned to campus for his final semester in the spring of 2010, but he struggled with taking a full load of classes and missed the Colorado community that had surrounded him.

Winger would quickly learn how important community and meaning were in successfully battling cancer.

“The IWU community made my transition back to campus as smooth as possible,” he said. “So many people at IWU did everything possible to support me in person, just as they had done when I was in Colorado.”

Through his diagnosis and treatment, Winger said God taught him that life has meaning regardless of your circumstances. He learned the importance of staying connected to people and to Christ at all times.

Joe Winger and his wife, Bekah.

“My eyes were opened to the suffering of cancer patients,” Winger said.

During his treatments, Winger read Man’s Search for Meaning, a book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. “The book focuses on the importance of maintaining meaning in the midst of suffering,” Winger said.

Fast forward to 2017 when Winger finished his Ph.D. He recently completed his first year as a postdoctoral associate at Duke University Medical Center.

Through a fellowship from the American Cancer Society, Winger’s work focuses on Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (MCP) with an emphasis on helping patients with advanced cancer

and pain.

The study focuses on pain coping skills, relaxation techniques and identifying ways to stay engaged in a meaningful life. He is testing MCP with 50 cancer patients at Duke.

“God’s faithfulness put me in the field where I belong,” he said.

What advice does Winger have for today’s IWU students?

“Value being in a Christian community,” he said. “When I was at IWU, it never fully sunk in for me just how unique a time it was in terms of community. Especially for students who will go into secular environments, they will never get the same sense of community that seeks to glorify Christ in their work that they have now on campus.”

 

Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the IWU Alumni Center. Kendra is a junior Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. Kendra is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.