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Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Dr. Gary Rupp ’78 and Kay Rupp ’80

Gary and Kay Rupp attended and graduated from Richmont under its former name, Psychological Studies Institute (PSI). Kay remembers coming to PSI knowing no one and meeting Gary at the Singles Group from Westminster Presbyterian Church. She recalls, before dating Gary, pointing him out to her visiting mother one Sunday and saying, “That’s the man I might marry.” Eventually, they began dating while Kay was completing her practicum at the Mt. Paran Church Counseling Center.

Kay and Gary Rupp together with their family.

After attending PSI, Gary enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Georgia State University.  Gary built careers in counseling and teaching, working at Georgia State University, George Washington University, Regent University, and then created the Master of Counseling Program at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Now retired from these careers, Gary works as a full-time artist.

Following graduation from PSI, Kay served as a counselor at a new counseling center and planned her wedding to Gary. For Kay, counseling was not a career, but she found her training became a vital part of her personal life. She values her times with friends and relatives who want to increase their personal and spiritual growth. Her graduate studies have also proved invaluable to her grant-giving foundation as she searches for ministries that promote healing of the whole person.

What was the most meaningful part of your Richmont experience?


Looking back on the years in graduate school, I am very grateful for the experiences that PSI provided. In particular, my life with fellow students that involved studying, living, and working together was never again duplicated. Classmates were a constant source of support, encouragement, and challenge. We were all on the same schedule, so we were always together. Intense, but wonderful, I found these relationships to be an excellent foundation for what came after these academic years.

Interacting with faculty and supervisors was especially life producing. Several became good friends and graciously continued to mentor me many years after graduation. As a graduate teaching assistant, I had the privilege of getting to know some of them well. One job I had was to pick up a visiting professor at the airport each week before class. Those interactions changed the course of my life and career.

I found each supervisor gave me a new perspective on the issues presented by clients. Some of these perspectives were not easy to hear, but in the end, all were helpful. Even if I decided not to approach a problem a certain way, I had some understanding of why I went a different direction. I tried to absorb all I could from supervision and listened to each suggestion. I hear them still.

I now recognize that my real teachers were my clients.

I now recognize that my real teachers were my clients. I will always be grateful to PSI for giving me clients so early on in my studies. They taught me how to listen with my soul and an open heart… and not just all my fancy theories. They taught me about courage, tragedies, pain, illnesses, addictions and much more. Life more raw than I knew. If I was willing to meet them where they were (instead of where I wanted them to be), there was a good chance we both might get further down the road of growing into life, love, and spiritual joy. These lessons were not easily learned. There was pain on both sides. But with patience and courage, the lessons were at least planted. If I remained teachable, the clients were more than willing to show me what was helpful and what was not. We both had to let go of our favorite defenses and risk the vulnerability of soul touching soul.


I enjoyed the high-quality instruction, excellent professors, and practical classes at PSI. I also appreciated the practicum and supervision experience. Calvin’s Institutes was one of my favorite books and I enjoyed discussing it with professor Brian Armstrong. At PSI, I also learned the value and healing ability of the integration of Christian values and good psychological principles. I treasure the community we developed with fellow students who became close friends as we lovingly encouraged each other in our studies, but also in our vulnerability by admitting our own defects and problems.

What words of wisdom would you share with Richmont students or recent graduates?


Do not be too quick to despise suffering or to make pain the enemy. Quick and easy help yields mostly insignificant and nonproductive results. Remember suffering can be a bridge from the known and obvious world to the unseen world, the real world… the world that is only seen by faith.

We are all in a hurry to FILL UP our lives with good things, and we have an agenda to make it happen. When the agenda fails, we seek help. What causes our pain is our self-created agenda FILLS UP life, but it never seeks what GIVES life. If we are too quick to get the agenda back on track for our clients, we damage them and us in the process. You say but suffering breaks hearts and we are to mend them. Yes, indeed, suffering breaks hearts! But a broken heart is an open heart. God is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those crushed in spirit.

It is one thing to know about good advice, and it is another thing to know that advice from inside yourself.

Finally, you cannot give others what you do not have yourself. It is one thing to know about good advice, and it is another thing to know that advice from inside yourself. The most dangerous counselor is the one who does not know they need help. We are all broken, just not in the same places. Thus, we are able to help carry another’s burden as we let others help us carry our own. If you truly want to help another, seek your own help. Build your own soul. Nourish your own spirit. Face your own pain. Notice, I am not speaking about finding the “answer” and then bringing it to someone else. Jesus never said he was the answer. He said he was good: the good way, the good truth, the good life. If you seek him, you will have something to give others. A relationship with him is best described as mysterium tremendom. It can be shared, but never completely known or understood.


It is important to remember that who you are in your personal life is more important than who you are professionally. Also, face your own fears while you look for God’s healing power. Try a little vulnerability with a spouse or friend; it may be reciprocated and could be the fertile ground in which your relationship deepens. Remember to not give up and look for skillful help for your own difficulties, and keep believing that God will not give up on you.


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