Personal Statement for UCF Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy Application

Personal Statement
Application for University of Central Florida
Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy
Alan Mowbray

I have this fire burning inside me to help people in relation to the issue of marriage.
I’ve always loved people, but this is different.
It’s as if my eyes have been opened to see a need that I never really saw before.

I have a great life. I have a great marriage. Sure, bad things may happen, as they do for everyone, but my wife and I have always found a way to rise above the circumstance together.

I used to think that if I just told people what I did or would do in any given circumstance, they would be able to solve their own problems. Easy, right? But after years of being small group leaders in our church, my wife and I discovered that, yes, there may be a time and place for that, but more importantly, there’s a greater need for listening and understanding–even before opening your mouth. And, as time passes on and the older I get, I listen more and say less; encourage more and criticize less.

Maybe it’s wisdom? Experience? Self-control?

Over time, I’ve learned that you can’t help people from the perspective of your level of success, but rather, you start at their level and walk with them as they grow into their own successes. I’ve learned that patience and love are probably your best tools when dealing with anyone.

Now, at fifty years of age, I am undergoing a transition period in my life where increasingly, people seem to listen to me just because of my appearance; growing a long, white beard over the past two years will do that. Granted, some of this may be earned as well, but it doesn’t explain the jump I’ve experienced.
Along with this transformation, a problem has revealed itself to me; I realize the more questions asked of me, the better equipped I need to be to responsibly give to those who are seeking my help, advice, or just lending an ear for a while. I can’t just operate off the cuff. Sure, that’s easy for me to do, but as a Navy Submariner of years past, I learned that no matter how much you think you know, remember, or have experienced, there are no shortcuts. Procedure is key. Procedure is safety for both sides of the equation.

It seems, the older I get, I listen more and say less; encourage more and criticize less.

I want learn the right way to do this. There are so many successful counselors in this area already, that, for me to think that my way is the best way is ridiculous… and, in my opinion, somewhat reckless. When it comes to learning, my process demands that if I want to grow in an area, I must find someone who has the knowledge and then draw it out of them. This is my reasoning for seeking a Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy.

I want to give those I help my best… and right now, my best resides in someone else’s head. I want to make that knowledge mine.

Initially, there was this moment of fear. Fear of diving into a seven semester commitment along with the requisite post-degree work to obtain certification. Fear that the burning that I had was just a figment of my imagination and not something real. Fear that I wasn’t worthy of a responsibility such as being a counselor at this level. So I talked to those who have asked me for help in the past. I wanted to know if I had treated them well and that they felt safe during our discussions. I talked to my Pastor. I confided in my wife. Through it all, the fear was replaced with confidence and purpose. The people who knew me best saw me in this role. Through their eyes, my own vision and that burning inside me returned anew!

When others believe in you, it makes all the difference in the world. Energized, I began my search for the best program to make this vision a reality. Initially, I looked at Liberty University, mostly because my Pastor recommended it. Other programs offered to be lower priced, less on-campus class time, or even all the coursework done in virtual classrooms…but I’m a social person. The idea of learning how to communicate to and help people, while isolating myself virtually, made no sense.

I want to give those I help my best… and right now, my best resides in someone else’s head. I want to make that knowledge mine.

In the end, though, I have chosen to apply only to UCF. Firstly, I graduated from UCF in 2005 with an English, Technical Writing degree. Going back to school (Seminole State and UCF) at 35 years of age turned out to be a positive experience and I had zero complaints… except maybe about parking. Secondly, you can’t argue with CACREP certification and none of the other programs I was considering had that cert. Thirdly, having face-to-face training AND a real, operational counseling center on campus where I can observe, listen, and learn in real life scenarios, is exactly what I want. Lastly and most importantly, I have friends that are getting quality marriage counseling at Northland Church in Longwood and am enjoying watching their relationship blossom through the process. As a result, the knowledge that key players on the Northland staff are part of this UCF program is significant to me. Everyone wants to be part of the winning team and I believe that UCF is where I want to be to achieve my goal.

In the end, this is not a pursuit of making myself look smarter or a vehicle whereby I get a bunch of certifications behind my name that makes me look more impressive. Instead, I have this vision that I will have an integral part in assisting couples develop and nurture successful, happy marriages, helping young men and women see their value—guiding them in preparation for their future, and watching those with no hope regain their footing on the right path.



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