Elizabeth Pennock Defends Dissertation

(OVIEDO, Fla.) Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Pennock has successfully defended her doctoral thesis and officially earned her Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida. A graduate of the RTS MAC program, Dr. Pennock has served as Assistant Professor of Counseling since 2019, teaching a range of core courses in the counseling curriculum.

For her thesis, Dr. Pennock researched the factors that predict the trauma-related attitudes and beliefs of Christian clergy as a first step in applying a trauma-informed care model to churches. More than 230 participants completed an online survey that included measures of trauma-related attitudes and beliefs, emotional intelligence, personal trauma exposure, the completion of trauma-related training, and other factors.

Results showed that trauma-related training and emotional intelligence were statistically significant predictors of trauma-related attitudes and beliefs. In light of these findings, Dr. Pennock delineated implications for mental health professionals, counselor educators, clergy training programs, and researchers.

Since joining the RTS faculty, Dr. Pennock has played a crucial role in shaping the cohorts of students who come to Orlando to earn their Master of Arts in Counseling and pursue licensure. In addition to teaching, she coordinates students’ counseling internships.

Dr. Scott Swain, President of RTS Orlando, said: “Dr. Pennock brings to RTS Orlando a wealth of experience in clinical counseling and cross-cultural ministry, along with academic expertise in the area of trauma. By her presence, experience, and gifts, she has already enriched colleagues and students in a multitude of ways. We rejoice with her at this milestone in her academic career.”

Dr. Pennock hopes that her research will help her better instill an understanding of trauma-related influences on clerical practice in her students. While she works most directly with counseling students, her expertise will benefit students in various degree programs offered at RTS Orlando. Alongside its central doctrinal commitments, RTS is dedicated to educating its students in pastoral competencies and giving them opportunities to study best practices surrounding issues of abuse, trauma, and counseling, including courses such as PT6530: “Abuse and the Church.”