From Self-Discovery to Serving Others

Gideon Litherland, M.A.

Gideon Litherland

Class of 2012
Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
Turning Point Behavioral Health Center
Skokie, Ill.

“Being welcomed into other people’s lives” is a daily privilege, says Gideon Litherland, a psychotherapist and case manager for children and adolescents. “It can be difficult work, but I’m constantly aware that it is an honor to be involved in the growth and healing processes of my clients.”

His work suits him perfectly, Gideon says — and he didn’t stumble upon it by accident. As a psychology major at Valparaiso University, he was encouraged to engage in a kind of self-reflection that helped him understand himself in relation to a community.

That understanding led him to Northwestern University’s M.A. program in counseling psychology, which led to his current position.

“When I think back on it,” Gideon says, “I realize how much of my experience at Valpo was focused on finding my own role. My professors helped me identify work that would be grounded in my community, work that would be both challenging and rewarding.”

As an undergraduate, Gideon was deeply involved in student advocacy. A member of the Student Senate and the co-president of Alliance, Valpo’s LGBT advocacy group, he served on the Diversity Concerns Committee and contributed to Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming, the Peace and Social Justice Symposium, and a Transgender Day of Remembrance, among numerous other projects. He led the student staff of Multicultural Programs and earned Student Affairs’ Outstanding Student Leadership Award during his senior year.

“My professors helped me see how my passion for establishing connections and building communities might play itself out in my work,” Gideon says. “They helped me understand the difference between counseling as a profession and research in psychology, which was very important in helping me choose the right graduate program.

“I’m not a Lutheran, but Valpo’s Lutheran idea of leadership as service really resonated with me. It still guides me today: psychotherapy as a service has meaning because it is focused on assisting others, in a very nonhierarchical, empathetic, and compassionate way.”