Time for Thankfulness: On Three Pastoral Counseling Professors

Stephnie Thomas, M.S. ’09, on Kelly Murray, Ph.D., Ralph Piedmont, Ph.D., and Bob Wicks, Psy.D.

By Magazine Staff
Kelly Murray

Stephnie Thomas, M.S. ’09, remembers hearing Bob Wicks, Psy.D., ask his class how many of the students spent time in thankfulness. “He wasn’t even directing it specifically toward God,” she said. “He challenged each of us to spend a minimum of two minutes a day just being thankful.”

Finding even two free minutes a day can be a challenge for Thomas, who balances her part-time job for the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland in Towson, Md., with her part-time private counseling practice in Westminster, Md. But when she can find time, her thankfulness includes the professors she encountered in Loyola’s pastoral counseling program. In addition to Wicks, Thomas remains especially grateful to the late Kelly Murray, Ph.D., associate professor of pastoral counseling, and Ralph Piedmont, Ph.D., professor of pastoral counseling.

“I felt like Kelly really pushed me to be better than I thought I could be,” Thomas said. “In one internship experience, I had a really sticky situation come up, and I felt like Kelly was the only one at Loyola who stood up for me, and gave me some really good advice. I had made a mistake and she helped me see that I could continue to be a counselor and learn from that mistake.”

Murray died in a car accident in June 2009. Thomas remembers that Murray would ask students an important question, “Whose best interests are being served? Is that for your gratification, or is it in the best interests of the client?”

Thomas credits Piedmont with helping her through statistics, which did not come naturally to her. “He would say, ‘Statistics are your friends,’ and we’d all groan, and say, ‘No they’re not, Ralph,’” said Thomas. “He would apply statistics to situations that we could grasp. He would say, ‘You’re reading this paper published in this journal. I want you to be able to discern if this is a piece of junk science or real science.’”

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