Helping students grow in their calling is one of Dr. Robert “Buddy” Landry’s favorite parts of his role as an associate professor of marriage and family counseling at the University of Mobile.
Students in UM’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling program study topics like depression, addiction, crisis and trauma, and relationship counseling as they learn how to help people struggling with a variety of mental health and relational issues in a complex society.
“It’s a sacred calling,” Landry said. “We look back at the ministry of Jesus, and we see Him doing healing and restoration as well as growth and development. I impress upon our students that we’re doing God’s work here.”
We asked the chair of graduate studies in UM’s College of Arts & Sciences about his own calling.
Q. You have taught at UM since Fall 2013. What is your background?
A. I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I earned an Associate of Arts in psychology at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gautier, MS; a Bachelor of Arts in Christian education with enough additional credits for a major in English at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS; and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in psychology and counseling at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA.
I worked for 20 years in community mental health, substance abuse, behavioral health, and employee assistance programs before I came to the University of Mobile to teach. Over the years I’ve been involved in several short-term (ranging from one week to six months) international missions projects and have served as a member of our home church’s disaster relief team. My time in New Orleans included five years of involvement in law enforcement, as well.
Q. Why did you choose to study and teach Marriage and Family Counseling?
A. I grew up in a Christian home and as a part of the First Baptist Church Biloxi family, and I accepted Christ when I was 7 years old. My parents had relationship challenges off and on during my childhood and teen years; I couldn’t help but be affected by it and developed my own strategies to cope. I became a good listener and helper, and my friends and peers began to come to with me with their problems and needs for advice.
By about 10th grade I had a sense that God had a specific calling on my life, but I believed that it involved medicine or the ministry. I explored both options academically and experientially and was one Greek course away from completing a Master of Divinity degree in Biblical Languages at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. God kind of tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’re going to use all of this, but you see that counseling program over there?”
So I changed my major to psychology and counseling, got my 3-year MDiv in 5 years (which makes for practically two degrees), and earned my professional counseling license while pursuing my PhD at NOBTS.
Of course, nothing’s wasted in God’s economy. Everything else I’ve done along the way (including my first job at a grocery store, retail work, youth and recreation ministry positions, loading delivery trucks, night clerking at a bed and breakfast in the French Quarter, and working with the New Orleans Police Department, among others) has come to play in who I’ve become and what I’ve done every day as a counselor, an educator and a supervisor.
Teaching and counseling have been my heart for a long time. I’ve served as an instructor and trainer in various areas over the years and served as an adjunct instructor for NOBTS and William Carey University before coming to teach at UM full-time. Now I get to teach and train developing counselors and therapists at a Christian university. I’m truly living the dream!
Q. Why should someone choose to study in UM’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling program?
A. Our Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling is designed to meet the education requirements for licensure as a Professional Counselor (LPC) and/or a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). All our students take the same required courses, which leads to better-equipped and more well-rounded future LPCs and LMFTs. In addition, we follow an integrative approach in addressing the relationship between students’ personal faith (and the faith of clients) and their professional practice.
In our program, we strive to bring the best information and practices currently available in the counseling and marriage and family therapy fields together with Biblical concepts and principles and a Christian worldview. We don’t advocate one specific model; rather, we provide students with opportunities to consider and explore these important factors and to begin to integrate their faith and their practice for themselves.
Q. Why do you choose to teach at UM?
A. Counseling, teaching and training have been my heart for many years. In addition to my years of counseling experience in the public sector, I’ve had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct instructor for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and William Carey University. I’ve taught Sunday school and discipleship training in church. I’ve taught English conversation classes and English-language Bible studies outside the United States. I’ve taught taekwondo and law enforcement training courses (including defensive tactics, police baton, police firearms, and academy simulation training).
Since I joined the UM family in Fall 2013, I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaching and training future professional counselors and marriage and family therapists at a Christian university – where students, faculty, staff, and administration know and care for one another, encourage one another, and pray for one another. My family and I live over 50 miles from campus, so every workday starts and ends with an hour-long drive. Even so, I can say without hesitation that it’s worth every mile and every minute.
Q. What are some of your interests or hobbies? What do they say about you?
A. My family and I have a deep love for the New Orleans Saints, Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney (not to mention Lewis and Tolkien). As much as I have enjoyed these things myself, sharing them with my family (especially my daughter) has taken it all to a whole different level. I think all these interests speak to my beliefs about and my aspirations for myself and my family regarding living the Christ life as a quest and living out the values of love, loyalty, service, commitment, honor, courage, compassion, sacrifice, and perseverance with everyone and everything we encounter along the way.