Dr. Berry Bishop has been named the director of the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program at Talbot. Serving as the interim director since the summer of 2021, Bishop hopes to continue to develop the vision of a Christ-centered MFT program that will equip future marriage and family therapists to care for the mental health of individuals, families, churches and communities.
Bishop’s desire to steward the vision of Talbot’s MFT program is grounded in her intention to bring together the worlds of theology, spiritual formation and Christian psychology, as is evident in her educational background. Bishop completed her M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care at Talbot, where she was grounded in a biblical and theological foundations in the work of the Spirit to form believers into the image of the Son. Her time at Talbot was crucial in not only gaining understanding of God’s work of sanctification in the lives of Christians, but it was also deeply experiential as she grew in understanding how the Lord was working in her life, past and present, to conform her to the likeness of Christ in the Spirit. Bishop’s training as a spiritual director through her Talbot program furthered this desire to see how the Lord reworks and transforms all things (including the ways we’ve sinned or been sinned against and the impact of the Fall on our mental faculties) for the good of the believer and their new life of adoption into Christ (Rom. 8:28–29).
Her training and experience at Talbot prepared Bishop for the doctoral program in clinical psychology at Azusa Pacific University, which continued her training in theology and psychology and included a dissertation on the impact of spiritual direction on trauma care. Over the years as a licensed clinical psychologist, Bishop has come to believe that the greatest gift a Christian psychologist can offer her or his clients is the healing presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, she believes that it is imperative that future Christian therapists are given opportunities to deepen the love of their Savior in their own training programs if they are to engender this hope in their clients.
Consequently, one of many goals Bishop has for the MFT program at Talbot is to bolster its theological and spiritual formational elements by requiring 14 units of spiritual theology, guided retreats, individual and cohort groups in spiritual direction, and training and experiences in the life of prayer. Her hope is for MFT students to enter into an in-depth knowledge and experience of Jesus’s healing presence alongside their integrative and clinical courses as budding marriage and family therapists. Bishop and the faculty of the MFT program at Talbot see the formation of the marriage and family therapist being akin to the tree beside the streams of living water, deeply rooted in their faith and identity in Christ Jesus, and flexible enough to be responsive and patient, producing fruit within their season (Psalm 1).