Published on June 15, 2020 by Leighton Doores  
Melissa Carlisle Golden

When the state of Alabama shut down in mid-March due to COVID-19, Melissa Carlisle Golden ’11 knew immediately that her expertise in counseling would serve a unique purpose during what would be a difficult time for everyone.

Golden graduated from Orlean Beeson School of Education’s Human Development and Family Science program and went on to earn her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling, Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was prepared to use this unique combination of skills and knowledge, to help others during the global pandemic.

As the president and licensed professional counselor at Transformation Counseling in Prattville, Alabama, Golden has extended her counseling practice to help as many people as possible with a free video series called “Thriving in the Unknown.” In this series, Golden encourages people to look upward, inward and outward to address emotional and mental well-being during these uncertain times.

Upward refers to looking at your upward relationship with the Lord and considering His plan for you during this time. Looking inward is noticing what’s going on with your body, how it’s responding to stress and what you can do to care for yourself. Lastly, outward reflection involves asking yourself how you can serve others and use this time as a ministry to help others.

Golden believes the video series has been successful because it gives a language to the shared emotions being experienced by many. “The videos I think are helping people understand what’s going on and understanding why they feel anxious or why their body is responding in different ways,” said Golden. “I think it has been helpful just to put words to it.”

In her work, Golden places emphasis on giving grace, both to others and yourself. She explains that performance expectations should be lower now than they were three months ago and that we don’t have to be the perfect parent, spouse or friend right now.

Much of Golden’s recent work has included encouraging people to think through how they are uniquely equipped to serve others during this challenging time, just like Golden did herself. In video 8 of her series, “Serving Others,” she explains how you can take inventory of your own unique talents, skills and interests and consider how they can be used to positively impact others.

“Focus on how the Lord has provided some new opportunities for us to complete our mission right now,” said Golden. “As a counselor I’m doing that via mental health, but that can be done by someone in marketing, or someone who works in the grocery store. Whatever you’re doing, consider how you’re reaching people for Christ and how we can use COVID-19 as an opportunity to do that in a new way.”

In addition to the video series, Golden is still treating counseling clients virtually with confidential, online tele-mental health sessions, which are available to all Alabama residents and best utilized by clients with mild to moderate mental health needs.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.