Even at a young age, Shelby Williams, Chair of Barclay College’s Online Psychology program, was interested in relationships. While other people were studying their multiplication tables or their spelling words, Shelby was busy thinking about people and the dynamics of their relationships. “I wondered why people acted the way they did at recess and why, when certain people were together at the lunch table, it felt a certain way to be around them.”
At home, relationships were often a topic of discussion. “My parents spent a lot of time processing my personality and relationship questions with me,” she laughs. During her later elementary years, her father, Dr. Royce Frazier, began working as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. “I was very influenced by watching him make that transition into the clinical field. When I found out you could earn a living by studying human relationships, I knew that was for me,” she adds.
Shelby grew up in Haviland and studied psychology at Barclay College. Lois Kendall, professor of psychology at the time, helped spark a curiosity in the subject; and Shelby became excited about learning. “Knowledge became powerful for me personally and changed me from not enjoying school to enjoying learning.” Her impetus for teaching is to help evoke that same type of excitement for learning and for the subject of psychology.
Shelby continued her education and received a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University. During her internships, she worked with children, adolescents, couples, families, and individuals in a variety of settings including in-home therapy and equine-assisted therapy. After graduating, she established a private practice in Haviland and served as the campus counselor for Barclay College. During that time, she began teaching adjunct courses in the Online psychology program as well as on campus. Her position has now evolved into Chair of Psychology for Barclay College Online.
Since Barclay’s psychology program approaches the subject from a Christian worldview, it recognizes that we are created by God and mirror his image. She adds that “spirituality is an important aspect of human beings.”
Shelby believes Barclay’s psychology program presents a unique opportunity for Christians. It’s important for us to model relationships that build up the body of Christ and learn how to interact with people and do that well. The study of human behavior is helpful to anyone who relates to other people,” she says. Shelby considers personal application an important part of spiritual formation. “Self-awareness is a valuable first step in understanding ourselves and the patterns that are keeping us stuck. It can help foster personal growth.”
Shelby is often impressed by the meaningful observations and insights students find when they study family systems and develop their own genogram. They begin to see the powerful connection between their life and the history of relationships within their family.
Students graduating from Barclay College’s Online Psychology program are also positioned well to further their education in graduate school, and several have interest in clinical licensure. Shelby spoke of her contact with graduates, saying, “I find it deeply rewarding when I hear from recent graduates who felt they were well prepared to pursue their professional goals through further study.”
It’s important to Shelby to support her students, especially those who are online. As a mother with children at home, she knows the challenges of the working parent. Shelby and her husband Josiah have four children ranging in age from four years to 11 years. They live in Derby, Kansas, where Josiah serves as pastor of Derby Friends Church.
Shelby wants her students to communicate with her so she can best support them. She knows that managing the challenge of family, work, and school requires negotiating priorities. And she knows that online students in particular must navigate those demands. “She offers, “I want to support students in reaching their educational goals in the midst of managing complex life demands. Communication is key!”
Learn more about the Psychology program at Barclay College Online at https://www.barclaycollege.edu/academics/online/psychology/.