Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Monique Gadson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Dr. Gadson. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My start? I was chosen. As Jeremiah stated in the Bible, “I was chosen before I was formed. Set apart. Appointed” (my paraphrase). When I was born, my father was serving as a pastor of two churches. I have grown up with the church being an integral part of my lived experiences. Not only was my father a pastor, but also his father. His brother. Some of his nephews. His sons, my brothers, were called into the ministry. Along with other nephews and nieces. Ministry and the church have always been such an ingrained part of my life.
Of course, coming from such a deep and rich heritage of ministers and pastors, the question, or at times the statement was made to me, “are you called to preach?” or “you know you are called to preach”. However, I never felt a tug to preach, But I did feel a tug to help. I was acutely aware of the unmet emotional and mental needs of people hurting in the church.
And after much praying and consultation, I started my graduate school journey to become trained as a mental health therapist for the church. Which really scared me. The stigma surrounding mental health in the African-American community and Church has always been present. What church will allow me to serve the hurting people when this is an area that is predominantly taboo in these spaces? Nevertheless, I pressed on to prepare for this purpose for which I was chosen.
So now, three degrees and one sixteen-year tenure at an African-American Church later, here I am!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Many, many, many afflictions have been part of this journey. There have been health challenges, financial challenges, time challenges. Trying to be obedient to the call and making certain that I kept first things first. My husband and family were never to be sacrificed along this journey. So, I tried to center my family as I felt that was my way of honoring and seeking God first. I had to trust everything else would be added to me – adequate study time, supernatural recall and clarity, provision, safe places for my children, and my availability for the needs of the clients.
I feel the biggest struggles have been people understanding promoting mental and emotional wellness also includes the environments as well as the individuals. We cannot just offer counseling services to people and then have the environment to be toxic and unhealthy spaces. Especially in the faith community. Therapy is not antithetical to Jesus and faith and church.
God has been faithful as He assigned me to a church setting for which He prepared me to minister. I feel there is more to therapy in the church than just behind a closed door. Infusing emotional and mental wellness throughout the entire system is a necessity. There has to be a synergy among all of the ministerial entities or all working parts within any church or organization or system.
I have taken quite a few personal hits over time. I have been ignored, pushed aside, overstepped, demeaned, questioned, undervalued. There has been a lot of hurt along this journey. I’m grateful for God’s grace. It is what fuels me to continue until God says otherwise. There are relationships – men and women, boys and girls – who need to be healed from hurts and trauma. There are people who need to effectively grieve losses. There are children and youth who need to be taught how to build healthy relationships. And we as the church need to understand how and where God is in all of these things. If God assigns me to another church, I’ll go. If He assigns elsewhere I will go. I’ve journeyed long enough to know struggles will await you wherever you go. But I’m
thankful God is with us and for us wherever we find ourselves.
Transforming Visions – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Transforming Visions focuses on four core areas: therapy, consulting, education and wellness. I’m most known for my expertise in working with church settings. I specialize as a church mental health expert and consulting therapist. I also specialize in pre-engagement and premarital education and therapy as these areas were the focus of my dissertation research. Some couples contact me because they want a more thorough, therapeutic, and spiritual approach for their premarital counseling.
Mainly clients contact me for the faith element in therapy. They want to discuss the issues with which they are dealing specifically through the lens of their Christian Faith. Churches contact me to offer therapy, leadership development, and consultation, especially in risk management, and also on how to best implement mental health as a ministry within the church. I have been able to assist churches with expanding their ministerial reach through program and ministry development.
I also love offering educational groups. I love speaking with couples who are dating about the benefits of .pre-engagement counseling and premarital counseling. I love to educate on developing healthy relationships. And I also love to educate on the factors, usually in our lives, that keep us from functioning at our most optimal levels and that negatively impact our emotional and mental wellbeing.
I think what I am most proud of is being able to assist people along the spectrum of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Sometimes therapists focus on one end or the other. Being trained on both ends, I’m equipped to help navigate an individual from dealing and relating with self to relating with others. The same holds true for small businesses or churches. I love being able to take a unique approach to help these entities not only help the individuals within but also the entire system. Our goal is to promote healthy individuals, healthy relationships, and healthy environments!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Success for me is defined as accomplishing what first and foremost I feel God has called me to do. Secondly, success to me is for my clients to feel they have received what they need. Although In this work we have to be careful about what we use to determine our “success” or value. Sometimes, it is the ability to sit with a client in a given moment that is quite difficult for them. They may not come back. You can’t see that as a lack of success. You have to see what you were to provide in a given moment.
- Website: Drmoniquesmithgadson.com
- Phone: 678-832-7064
- Email: transformingvisions@yahoo,com