When Cassie Reid was a freshman in college studying economics, she took a basic psychology course. As an active member of her Spirit-filled West Virginian church, Cassie was also learning about Spirit-led inner healing at the same time, and that’s when she had an epiphany that changed everything. This past January, 17 years after Cassie’s epiphany moment, one of the most innovative and unique therapy degree programs in the country launched at The King’s University (TKU).  

“I remember watching a video about therapy for schizophrenics and saying, ‘Wow, that’s freedom ministry! There’s a spiritual root,’” Cassie says. “I wanted to learn more, and I felt like the Lord told me to get all the tools in my tool belt, and He would open the doors.” She knew that meant getting several advanced degrees, but in obedience, she switched her major and enrolled in several counseling classes. Throughout her education, Cassie thought constantly about combining clinical theory and Spirit-led inner healing to further help her clients, but she kept encountering the disparity and “either/or” mentality between the two wherever she went. After a two-year stint as a school counselor in the Keller ISD (where she won Counselor of the Year but at the same time was reprimanded for being too helpful), Cassie felt the Lord call her to open her own practice where she could freely blend the two methodologies for her clients. “Whether I have an atheist, Buddhist, or Muslim come into my practice, I’m still hearing the Holy Spirit,” she says. “I may not say it overtly, but I’m still operating from that place of hearing the Lord about where to go next.”

While working at her practice, Cassie also taught classes periodically at Gateway and TKU, and one day Dr. John Spurling, president of TKU, gave her an opportunity to turn her combination therapy techniques into a new, Spirit-led and fully accredited counseling degree. She and several others started envisioning what this new marriage and family therapy master’s degree program would look like. Their first step was to do their research. They looked at 12 other counseling degree programs for a basis, and with Cassie at the wheel, they asked themselves what they wanted to emulate and what they wanted to change. They definitely wanted their students to obtain a license in the state of Texas upon graduation, and they knew they wanted to produce quality therapists who are passionate and can navigate a secular state exam but also know how to look at a situation spiritually. “If you go to a secular school, you’re going to learn theory, a medical model, how to act while in session, and how to be ethical. Yes, we need all that,” Cassie says. “But what’s missing is trusting yourself and what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. That can be incorporated, and it can be taught.” A team of several people, including Dr. Bobbi Stringer at TKU, spent a lot of time researching state requirements and making sure the degree program was fully approved and accredited before it launched in January of 2016. 

Cassie also wanted to make sure the students had plenty of real life experience, so the degree program includes three semesters of seeing clients and plenty of group practice sessions, which Cassie likes to call “tag team therapy.” Within this first semester, she has already started implementing this technique in addition to bringing real-life cases* into her classrooms so her students can hear about current situations and discuss how to approach someone if they were to walk through their door today. “I didn’t sit across from a client until I was out of my master’s degree,” she says. “If you wait that long, how do you know you love it? You don’t. I want these students to know.” The students not only get to practice therapy theory with their peers during class, but the mock sessions have inadvertently opened up opportunities for them to encourage one another in the Lord and develop deep relationships. This kind of camaraderie is unique, especially in a field that can be extremely competitive. 

One of the cornerstone classes within this marriage and family master’s degree program is a class titled, Personal Identity: The Self as Counselor, where the students pursue their own personal freedom and healing while also learning how to walk someone else through it. Where most, if not all, counseling degrees encourage the counselor to shut down their personal experiences and operate out of a place of objectivity, Cassie believes that vulnerability, knowing yourself, and remembering how you received healing positively impact the way you counsel someone else toward healing. The class incorporates a lot of content from Gateway’s Freedom Ministry classes and encourages the students to be transparent. No other counseling degree program in the United States has a class like this, and it is one of the many reasons The King ’s University has become a place of distinct and exceptional education.

Yet, the road to this degree has not been easy. The actual launch of the program was two years in the making as they waited for the state’s certificate of authorization to proceed. “In the waiting, we were able to make sure we were extremely ready and ahead of the game when the green light came,” Cassie says. Now that it is up and running, it is expected to grow quickly. The first semester already has 30 students enrolled—some students even switched to this degree mid-semester!

When The King’s University at Gateway was launched in 2012, the goal was to blend education and ministry to produce experienced and quality leaders. Just four years later, they are blending things again with a master’s degree that will reinvent the education of the next generation of therapists. “It’s always been ‘either/or.’ Either you believe that the Lord can heal everything or you believe that theory, medicine, and hard work are key. It’s never and,” Cassie says. “The and is what The King’s degree is really all about.” 

Dr. Cassie Reid is the director of the Master’s of Marriage and Family Therapy degree at The King’s University and founder/lead counselor of Cassie Reid Counseling. Cassie and her husband, James, have two daughters, Londi and Emerson.

For more information about the Master’s of Marriage and Family Therapy degree or about The King’s University, visit www.tku.edu