As a person who thoroughly prefers to make direct connections with others, Norma Stevens was feeling unfulfilled in her criminal justice career.
“I just felt like I wasn’t making a real difference,” she recalls the former policy analyst, noting that she felt too far removed from the people she was trying to help. While considering social work as an avenue toward better connecting with those in need, Stevens read an article about pastoral counseling in her local newspaper. “I was specifically attracted to pastoral counseling because of its recognition of the importance of spirituality and faith in one’s healing process,” she says. The news article referenced Loyola College in Maryland and a book by Barry Estadt. “I read the book and thought, ‘This is it. This is for me.'”
Stevens has an interest in working with clients facing depression, anxiety, life transitions, stress and anger management, and grief and loss. She also has experience with domestic violence counseling, as she interned at a domestic violence shelter and, in her previous career, worked with prosecutors on domestic violence issues.
Meanwhile, Stevens has completed training in Imago relationship therapy and says she is inspired by working with couples in crisis. “My husband and I personally experienced Imago therapy in our relationship and saw how it truly transformed it. I realized immediately that I just had a passion for it. As soon as I was able to be trained, I did it,” she explains.
Stevens firmly believes that a strong marital relationship has reverberations into one’s larger community. “I feel like couples have a lot of challenges today. A lot of families are in crisis. Imago is a real chance at changing marriages, strengthening them, and not only are you strengthening the marriage, but the family as well. It really trickles down,” she says. “I believe God had a plan for marriage and I feel like when you go through the Imago process it brings you closer to the ideal of that plan.”
To this end, Stevens and her husband teach the Couplehood as a Spiritual Path course together and are planning a new class this fall in Columbia, Md. “I love working with him. It’s great for us because we feel like we’re giving back, but we’re also working together and I get to see a whole other side to him,” she says. “He’s an engineer and seeing him operate out of his ‘right brain’ is really fun. I love working with him in this way. You learn something about yourself each time you teach. You never stop learning about your own relationship. I’ve been married 16 years and I’m still learning new things, all the time.”
Stevens says her transition to work at PC&CC has offered even more evidence that she has found the right fit. “Our staff meetings are just another extension of learning. The people are warm and I feel very welcomed, I learn a lot from their expertise and experience. I feel blessed,” she adds. “Working with couples is really what I want to do, it’s where I really feel like I can make a difference. I was searching when I left my other career. I feel like, with Imago, I found what I was looking for.”
Stevens works at PC&CC’s office in Ellicott City, Md. She may be reached at 202-449-3789 x718.