When Dr. Stacie Norman walked into a conference in Florida to give a counseling presentation, she had no idea that it would change the trajectory of her career. That day, in September 2021, she met members of Clarks Summit University’s School of Behavioral Sciences. Norman, a southern girl from Georgia, landed in Northeast Pennsylvania on a snowy week in November for her first visit to CSU’s campus. After a series of interviews, Norman joined CSU as core counseling faculty for the master’s program.
“I had never heard of Clarks Summit University,” Norman said. “My workshop was the very last workshop of the conference. It was about fostering adolescent meaning and purpose in order to reduce mental health issues. A representative of CSU approached me afterwards. I left that day with an interview scheduled for the following Tuesday. It is such a God-story.”
Biblical Counseling for Children
Norman, a licensed play therapist, is passionate about biblical counseling for children. When she entered the field, she found there wasn’t adequate training for play therapists from a conservative Christian view. “There were a lot of things that weren’t developmentally appropriate for children or biblical. The liberal agenda is so big in the play therapy training. It’s difficult for Christian therapists to find training that align with Biblical principles.”
Norman is working with Clay Gill at Cord of Three Counseling Services in Blackshear, Georgia, to develop a Christ-centered play therapy model.
“Play therapy is important for those who counsel children,” Norman said. “The way that you counsel children is different than the way you counsel adults…Our goal is to provide training to Christian counselors like ourselves who are just tired of having a liberal agenda pushed down our throats at every play therapy training we go to.”
Norman has provided training in Georgia for counselors to receive their continuing education credits to maintain licensure. She’s presented at conferences, taught classes online, trained and supervised counselors and served as a licensed counselor in her community.
Following God’s Leading
Norman’s love of children and education drove her to get her undergraduate degree in early childhood education. She soon found that being an elementary school teacher wasn’t a good fit for her. “I wanted to have the creativity and liberty to use the gifts God has given me to make a difference in the lives of others,” Norman said. She stepped away to raise her children and years later felt that God was leading her to get a counseling degree. Norman went on to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s in professional counseling and her Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision. She has worked as a licensed Christian counselor in Georgia since 2015 and has years of experience counseling children, adolescents and adults.
“As I entered the counseling field, I began to be confident with what God had called me to do,” Norman said. “I’ve always had a passion to work with children, and I feel that one of my spiritual gifts is teaching. I also have a passion for training and education. It’s become clear that God would merge those passions to allow me to teach and train others who counsel children, adolescents and families.”
“When I tell people how God worked and how I came to accept a position at Clarks Summit university, it blows their mind,” Norman said. “I could have sat down and planned my life for the next 30 years, and working for a university in northeast Pennsylvania would have never crossed my mind. The whole process has been amazing and really faith-building for me. I’m excited to be part of a school with such a strong biblical foundation.”
“She brings tremendous experience in regard to counseling children,” said Dr. Lynelle Buchanan, dean of CSU’s School of Behavioral Sciences. “In the workshop she was presenting where we first met Dr. Norman, we were so impressed that she came at her topic from a biblical standpoint, with incredible professionalism and backed by strong research. It’s not as easy as you would think to find someone so biblically grounded and who works with the Bible as an authoritative lens. Her philosophy was so thoroughly Scriptural, it drew us to her very much. We are so glad to have her join the department.”
“I’m so excited to be connected to a university that has such a strong biblical foundation…It’s very encouraging to be part of an organization like Clarks Summit University. Being a part of a school that trains and equips Christian counselors is a way for me to help mold the culture of counseling in the future. If the counselors we send out from CSU have a strong biblical worldview, that will make a difference in the lives of the people they touch. Having a part of the educational process means that I not only get to impact students, but I get to make a difference in lives that I could never touch on my own. It’s not about me; it’s about God. He wants to use me in the lives of people I’ll never meet, and it’s an honor to be part of that process.”
Norman will teach master’s-level counseling courses in CSU’s online programs.
She and her husband John have three children: Micah, Mikaela and Rachel, and one adorable grandson, Hezekiah.
For those who want a counseling degree that holds the Bible as the foundation, focus and filter, CSU offers both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Julie Jeffery Manwarren