By Kathryn Flippin
Ever needed a place to go and de-stress, or needed some advice about a life-changing decision? If so, Dr. Paul Deschenes, director of counseling services and associate professor of psychology, is just the guy to see.
Deschenes did not always want to be a counselor. After entering college at the University of Florida, he changed his major from pharmacy to business and then ended up in psychology. He continued in various fields, such as being a pizza deliverer and working construction, until he decided it was right to go to graduate school. He ended up getting his master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology at Biola (Calif.) University and has been counseling ever since.
Deschenes not only serves the Union community, but he is also actively involved in the outreach program, God Rewards Our Work, for his church, West Jackson Baptist. His eagerness to help is always at the front of what he does and his actions show it.
Question: What is one thing you wish you could change about your college experience?
Answer: I wish I had been a better student early on. The first few years are important, and what a lot of freshmen do not realize is that the things Mom once said, like study, sleep and eat your vegetables, really do matter.
Q: Where is one place in the world you have never been but would like to go?
A: I have never been to the Holy Land. It would be amazing to see all the biblical sites. I would love to one day take a trip and see as much as I can.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
A: This past fall break I took my children – Anna Marie, a sophomore social work major at Union, and Daniel, a junior psychology major also at Union – on a hiking trip. I used to go a lot when I was younger and would love to one day take a month and hike as much of the Appalachian Trail as I can. I am also an avid canoer. Every spring for the past 20 years I have gone on a canoeing trip.
Q: What do your job responsibilities consist of?
A: I not only deal with counseling services, but also with students who have disabilities. I help them with accommodations to make things easier. I also teach some classes. This past January I taught a class called “Issues in Psychology and Religion.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?
A: I love talking to the students. It is a dream job because college students are interesting. I enjoy the interaction I get with them on a day-to-day basis and helping them through things such as anxiety, stress, roommate or family problems, or certain classroom issues. The academic environment is also exciting, much more than if I was downtown cooped up in an office.
Q: What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
A: Sometimes I have to deal with crises, even in the middle of the night. If there is a death or some big emotional problem, I am there to assist.
Q: Union has a set mission statement that talks about having excellence-driven, people-focused, Christ-centered and future-directed students and faculty. How do you feel you portray this in your daily job?
A: I know everyone I deal with does not always want to look at the religious aspect of things, but I constantly try to encourage them to look holistically at themselves and try to focus on God, because then everything else will fall into place.
Q: What is one thing you would like students to know about you and what you do at Union?
A: A lot of people think there is a stigma to what I do, but I am here to give advice the best I know how. There is no problem too big or small, and my door is always open.