During the fall residency in September 2023, the Marketing & Communications team was able to spend some time in conversation with Dr. Monique Gadson, Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology. Our newest core faculty member, Dr. Gadson joined The Seattle School in 2022. She teaches Social and Cultural Diversities, Family Systems, Group Counseling, and Counseling Children and Adolescents. Please enjoy this interview and get to know Dr. Gadson better.
Dr. Gadson is a licensed professional counselor, consulting therapist, educator, and podcast host. She received her B.S. in Business Management from The University of Alabama, her M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Troy State University, her M.S. in Spirituality and Counseling from Richmont Graduate University, and her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Amridge University. Dr. Gadson hosts the podcast, “And The Church Said,” that discusses church and culture from a Christian counseling perspective, focusing on mental and emotional health and the church. She provides counseling and consulting services through her practice, FourCee Counseling and Consulting Services, LLC., concerning issues such as grief, trauma, anxiety, depression, marriage and family care, relationship challenges, questions of faith, and spiritual abuse. Her areas of professional and ministerial interest include premarital and pre-engagement education/counseling, individual development, effects of trauma on development, family-of-origin influences, relationships, marriage and family therapy and education, the intersection of theology and psychology, and the Church and mental health ministry.
Dr. Gadson served on the staff of a church for 16 years as the clinical mental health counselor. She also has served as an expert contributor to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for a video-based training series for chaplain services, and as a consulting therapist for several churches and organizations. She has taught several courses in psychology, counseling, leadership development, legal and ethical professional development in marriage and family therapy, systematic evaluation and case management, and human development. Presentations at professional conferences include the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, and the American Association of Christian Counselors. Passionate about individual development and relationship education, considering these as means of discipleship, she believes the cornerstone for a healthy society is the love for one’s self and others fueled by a love of God.
Her latest book, Finding Hope in a Dark Place: Facing Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety with the Power of Grace, co-authored with Clarence Shuler, was released in 2022.
Dr. Gadson is married and has two daughters. Her hobbies include Alabama football, writing spoken word pieces, reading, listening to great music, exercising, journaling, photography, scrapbooking, gardening, and hanging out with her family and friends. She loves long walks, preferably on the beach, sunsets and sunrises, and time outside enjoying nature.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve been reading Edwin Friedman’s work. I started reading him when I was in grad school, and I’ve picked up a lot more of his books lately. I’ve also been reading about leadership, Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge also Christina Edmondson’s Faithful Antiracism.
What have you been listening to lately?
I listen to a lot of different podcasts. My favorite happens to be good friends who have their own podcast: Truth’s Table. And also The Best of You with Alison Cook. I have moved away from listening to music and mostly listen to podcasts now.
What research do you find yourself drawn to at the moment?
I continue to study and research the intersection of faith and mental health, trying to help churches. I’ve been able to consult with churches over time when they’re trying to consider implementing counseling ministries or even just how to make their environment more emotionally and mentally healthy. What can they implement? What sermons should they be preaching? Where should they be sensitive? So I do a lot of reading, researching, and writing between faith and mental health.
And also I study societal emotional process, the emotional processes that are happening out in society. When we recognize what is happening–such as polarization, cancel culture–all these things we have going on, we study that through the lens of societal and emotional processes first and foremost. According to the research on regression, when people group around the least mature leader, that’s a sign that you’re in a state of regression because people are drawn to quick-fix solutions as opposed to long-term sustainability. I think of societal emotional process through a systemic lens, and my reading and research are around systemic issues and thinking systemically as well as generationally. In my research and writing, I take that lens and apply it to institutions, for example, thinking about what was going on with this institution before we were here, and what processes, emotional processes, have been passed down, either knowingly or unknowingly. And what is passed through families, how those systems are built, how do they develop, what is transmitted from generation to generation, and how that contributes to society.
What is something you are looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to finishing some writing. I’ve been encouraged to write a couple of chapters for a book proposal, so I’m in the middle of those. I’m really looking forward to tying those up and seeing what will unfold with that project.
At The Seattle School, I’m looking forward to teaching students this term. Teaching grad school has been really fun because people are doing what they want to do. In undergrad they may be there because they have to take the class and just want to move on to the next thing. With the students here at The Seattle School, I just love the opportunity to teach people who know what they want to do. And since I’ve done it for so many years, it’s really fun to pour that wisdom, that experience, that knowledge back to the students.
How did you become interested in becoming a therapist?
So I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), and in the African American church, Black church context, and we didn’t talk a lot about mental health. We didn’t talk a lot about emotional health. My buddy Dr. Alison Cook and I would discuss how we grew up with faith in God and we lacked the emotional health and the tools and skills needed to merge the two. So that’s where I began, with curiosity about bringing the mental health piece into the faith piece. At the time, they were in direct opposition to each other. Everybody was suspicious of psychology: You’re not going to brainwash me or move me away from my faith. So, growing up as a church girl, I started being curious about learning how to integrate those two and see how they can work well together so that we can be more holistic and healthy.
What led you to teaching?
That’s a whole story! I know it sounds kind of crazy but God literally put me on this path. I wasn’t seeking it out. All the opportunities I’ve had to teach literally came to me. I hadn’t even considered it. The way I ended up here is a whole story in itself, but I really felt an invitation from the Lord to come to this particular institution because I am passionate about the integration of psychology and theology, that’s how I was trained. So I’m excited to be a part of something that I was looking for when I was trained as a therapist. I was literally called by God to be here.
What’s a favorite recipe or favorite food you enjoy?
I love to eat salmon, and I’ve been told I haven’t had real salmon until I come to Seattle. I love pizza. I love french fries. I do eat my vegetables! I make a good spinach dip. And I make my grandmother’s recipe for dressing (some people call it stuffing in certain geographical areas–in the South, we call it dressing) and I think I do it pretty well.
What do you enjoy about teaching at The Seattle School?
I enjoy being able to challenge the students to think in ways that perhaps they had not had the opportunity to think before. I come to Seattle by way of the South, by way of the Black church, by the experiences of a Black woman. And when you cook all of that together, you know, it’s different thinking, a different approach, a different lived experience. I do believe it offers something valuable to the students that I teach. And so I look forward to challenging them to think outside the box. Students come up to me and say, “I had this type of client and I’m so glad you told us how to be ready for that.” So I do enjoy the challenge, even if I’m making the students a little uncomfortable because I believe that is the best training to become a therapist.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
I love the fall of the year because it’s football time: I’m a graduate of the University of Alabama. Apart from that, I love to travel with my family and hang out together as much as we can. I love the beach, nature, mountains, anywhere I can go where I feel I’m grounded. I love to garden, and that’s another way I find soothing. And I think that’s my grandmother’s influence on me: she and my grandfather had a farm. I like putting my hands in the soil, and filling my hands with the earth. In nature, I find grounding for this holy, sacred, and difficult work, and I can regulate a little better. These are some practices I engage in so that I can be at my best, so I can be there for others.
Who is your hero?
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be with Mrs. Autherine Lucy Foster. She was the first Black student who attempted to enroll at the University of Alabama. The future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, became one of her lawyers who fought for her to be fully admitted. However, although she was granted admittance, she faced extreme persecution and as the result of mob riots, she was forced to leave the University. I knew her personally before her death. She, my father, and her husband were really good friends, and one of her daughters and I were one year apart in school. And we’re still really good friends to this day. Our daughters roomed in college, so it was a generational thing. Our families have just known each other for years. You knew her to be a historical figure, but you really didn’t. It was during those times when she would be honored and especially on her death, you remembered how huge her life really was. So I was grateful for the opportunities that I had to be with her, sit with her, listen to her, and for her guidance and direction. I look at her as a hero, and as a matter of fact, at her memorial service, hearing her voice, I think in part, paved the way for me to be here.