Graduate student follows God’s call to provide mental health support

Mental health remains an important and ever-evolving topic in today’s society, but how can it be used to glorify the Lord? Chandini Henson, a clinical mental health counseling graduate student, has made this question her life’s mission.

Henson first came to Christ in middle school, but as she grew older, she learned that faith can often be challenging to uphold. With many questions concerning her faith, she sought answers in an environment that fosters spiritual growth and nurturing.

“I wanted to go to a college that would be (a place) where I could (feel) inspired by the faith of my peers and figure out why I believe what I believe,” Henson said.

This led Henson to attend Liberty University, where she began as an undergraduate music and worship major with the intent to pursue music professionally.

However, by the end of her freshman year, Henson discovered that God had another plan for her life. Henson felt led to use her interest in psychology to fulfill her calling and switched her major to general psychology with minors in criminal psychology and music.

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I think that wherever God has you in the moment, that’s what he is calling you to,” Henson said. “I remember when I was trying to decide between continuing with music or stepping into psychology, (I was) asking God, ‘Lord, would you please clarify what decision I’m supposed to make?’ And (music) was not the answer he gave me. And I guess that at some point, … it was almost like God was asking me, ‘Whatever you choose, just glorify me in it. Be faithful in it, and that’s where I want you.’”

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Henson began learning how she could apply her knowledge of psychology to something that could be used to not only help others, but also  serve the Lord. With this goal in mind, Henson returned to Liberty to pursue her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, nurturing her passion for helping others through counseling.

“I think there is strength and humility … in allowing yourself to be led by someone else through your own feeling(s),” Henson said. “I think (counseling) can be a really powerful tool where people feel like they can be surrounded and cared for and encouraged by someone else.

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After earning her master’s degree in counseling, Henson plans to obtain her licensure to become a professional grief counselor. Believing that everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives, Henson wants to “step into that space and help people in that process.”   

“I want to be someone who, whether it’s a big part or a small part, … (helps people) become more resilient throughout the rest of their (lives) as they experience tragedy, hurt, loss and grief,” Henson said. “I want to help people (learn) how to process it and to take those difficult experiences that we’re bound to have … and learn from them and ultimately come out the other end with more strength than they had before.”

Henson currently serves under the LU Shepherd office in the Grad Scholars program, which is dedicated to offering students an on-campus resource for counseling led by clinical mental health counseling graduate students. Henson and her team hold private sessions for students who may need someone to talk to.   

“I love my role with Grad Scholar because I get to laugh with students and I get to hold on to very heavy but precious stories,” Henson said.

Henson also values her role as a Grad Scholar because it allows her to minister to students who might be questioning their faith in the same way she once did.

“We get to be a place where (students) are able to come and process through those questions without any sort of shame … (or) judgment,” Henson said. “We (can) tell them, ‘Hey, it’s okay to have those questions. It’s actually good to have those questions.’”

As a Christian, Henson believes that her field gives her the unique opportunity to “serve and love whoever (her) client is” even if a session isn’t faith-focused.

“God is at work in the lives of people all around us,” Henson said. “I think it gives us a space to meet their need in one way and then pray and ask the Lord to meet their need in (a spiritual) way.”

Goforth is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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