SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Evangel University counselor Kerry Marsh has completed her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision with a research emphasis on narcissism in marital relationships.
She will officially graduate with her doctorate on Dec. 18, 2020, from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and will walk the line next May.
Marsh began working at Evangel in 2007.
She counsels undergraduate and graduate students about mental health concerns and provides premarital counseling. On the academic side, she supervises master’s-level counseling interns at Evangel and teaches in the Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program.
“I chose to be a counselor because I wanted to help people get over past hurts, work through relational issues, and in general enjoy holistic well-being,” said Marsh, who feels there is no better time to provide such help to people than during their young adult years.
“Our students are launching into their adult lives during their time at Evangel, and they make important decisions about spirituality, relationships, career, and so much more during this time. It is gratifying to get to influence them positively, right at this pivotal time in their lives!”
Marsh titled her dissertation, “My Spouse Is Amazing Like Me: The Association between Homogamy for Narcissism and Relationship Satisfaction.”
The study involved an online survey with 764 participants who completed assessments measuring their own level of narcissism, that of their spouse, and their level of relationship satisfaction.
“Findings indicated that narcissistic individuals prefer to marry other similarly narcissistic people, and when they do, they are more satisfied than if they had married someone lower in narcissism,” explained Marsh.
“The study also examined the narcissism subtype — Admiration or Rivalry — of participants and spouses and how this affected relationship satisfaction. Here, findings suggested that the only truly dissatisfied couples were those in which one was high in Rivalry narcissism and the other was low in narcissism,” she continued.
“Participants with the Admiration subtype were very inclined to report relationship satisfaction, regardless of the level or subtype of narcissism identified in their spouse. It appears from this research that much of the difficulty experienced in narcissistic relationships occurs in mismatched pairs with one partner high in the Rivalry subtype.”
Like Evangel, Liberty University holds accreditation with the highly regarded Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, commonly called CACREP [pronounced KA-Crep].
This specialized accrediting body is recognized in all 50 states, which is important for state licensure, certification and job opportunities. In addition, in order to work for certain agencies — such as the Veteran’s Administration — a person must have a CACREP accredited degree.
“Kerry Marsh has been an invaluable member of the Counseling Services team for over a decade,” said Brian Upton Ph.D., director of counseling services at Evangel University. “Her commitment to serving the Evangel community has seen her provide care to hundreds of students and couples and oversee programming events like Fashion Fever and the annual pre-marital retreat.
“The acquisition of her Ph.D. is a testament to how she strives for excellence and is a ‘lifetime learner,’ and it will be incredibly exciting to see how God expands her ministry,” he added.
From start to finish, it took Marsh four years and three months to earn her Ph.D. During that time, she worked full time as a counselor, plus taught some classes.
“I appreciate how supportive my supervisor, Brian Upton, was of my studies, which required me to travel to Virginia for a week each semester,” said Marsh. “It was worth the time and effort, though, because my counseling, teaching, and supervision have all been greatly enriched by my Ph.D. program.”
Evangel is a family affair
Kerry is also appreciative of the support of her husband, Doug Marsh, whom she met while they were students at Central Bible College. They have actually supported each other for the past twenty years as they have pursued advanced degrees.
Doug and Kerry have served in missions ever since graduating in 1993 — first as missionaries to Costa Rica 1994-2002, then stateside-based with Royal Rangers International. Doug is the director of Royal Rangers International, which is part of International Ministries through Assemblies of God World Missions.
Upon their return to Springfield, Doug earned his Master of Organizational Leadership at EU. On the seminary side, Kerry earned her master’s degree in counseling, and Doug is currently doing his PhD in Intercultural Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University.
The couple has two grown children, and both are graduates of Evangel University. Jon Marsh graduated in 2018 with a double major in Government and Philosophy; and Katelyn Marsh graduated in 2020 with a double major in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and a minor in Biblical Studies.
Kelly has been a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of Missouri since 2008 and a Licensed Minister with the Assemblies of God since 1993.
Historically, students in the Behavioral & Social Sciences Department live out their calling in service to others, finding commonality under the banner of the “helping professions.”
Majors offered include criminal justice, government, history, psychology, social sciences and social work. The military science (ROTC) program is also included in this department.
Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally.
Evangel serves 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.