Randy Christopher is the beloved Executive Director of Phillips Education Center at Campbellsville University. He is known for his management and negotiation skills in shepherding the school through its recent transition into a fully accredited program and significant part of the Campbellsville family of rigorous academic programs, but also for his warm, down to earth interpersonal approach with everyone. Describing his work as a psychotherapist, he once described it as an IT helpdesk for mental health-related “technical problems.” Read more from a recent discussion with Randy below.
What’s important for people to know about you? How long have you been a therapist? Is there a population you specialize in, or is it more general?
I have different titles and job descriptions, but when someone asks me what I do, I say I’m a therapist. It was always my plan to work with children and adolescents. All of my supervised hours as a trainee and an intern were working with that population: in public school, private school, parochial school, and special ed school. It’s great training to work with a group that doesn’t think they need therapy and doesn’t want to be there. If you can coax teenagers into sitting and talking with you, you can work with just about any group! In private practice, I have also worked with adults and find couples work the most challenging and rewarding work of all.
What therapeutic paradigm do you work from, generally? Any central beliefs about people, change or the work itself that particularly inspire or motivate you?
I don’t have a specific paradigm; I steal from all of the greats. It would be fair to define my approach as “integrative.” I like to explore the root causes of issues and to treat symptoms, especially with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness meditation. I believe that people don’t need to change – they are great just the way they are. What we look for is behavioral change. We want clients to learn how to control their behavior, so that their behavior stops controlling them.
How long have you been connected with Phillips? What’s your favorite thing about the school? What’s your biggest challenge?
I started full-time at Phillips as clinical director of CalFam Counseling in January 2017. Starting in 2016, I worked as an adjunct faculty member. My favorite thing about Phillips is the culture – it is a warm, nurturing environment. I felt it the first day I came to work with Diane Lee, who was training me to become a certified supervisor. The culture at Phillips is rare, in my opinion, and is held by the faculty. I do what I can to support and encourage this legacy.
What are your thoughts about the current MFT program?
We have a strong group of new therapists enrolled at Phillips. I really appreciate our new governing body, Campbellsville University. They have provided the resources and stability that Phillips struggled with for many years. At the same time, they have valued what is unique about Phillips and allowed us to continue in our mission to train the next generation of marriage and family therapists, and to provide mental health services to the local community.
What advice do you want to pass along to someone considering becoming a psychotherapist?
Well, of course, my best advice is to enroll at Phillips! We’ve been training individuals to become Marriage and Family Therapists longer than most in Southern California. And we’re not just about getting you the master’s degree. We have many graduates return as Associate MFT’s and get the remainder of their hours for licensure. Some graduates even get their licenses and stay to practice in our Counseling Center. We are here to nurture and support our students, our alumni, and our colleagues.