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Get to Know Dr. Davis-Preffer: Professor of Online Masters of Counseling

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Many know Dr. Jenny Davis-Preffer as full-time professor of counseling at Grace College, but do you know about the journey that got her here? Learn about the way that God has directed her steps to the online masters of counseling department and to the mental health field.

Dr. Davis-Preffer lives in northeast Florida with her husband of 20 years, her youngest children (18 and 15), and her elderly mom. She is blessed to have raised six amazing kids – several who live close to them, giving them lots of time with their grandchildren. When Dr. Davis-Preffer is not with her big family, she loves spending her time traveling. Her favorite destination is Europe. Did you know that she even has a house in a little rural village in northwest France? You can find her there on summer vacations.

A love for counseling was first sparked in Dr. Davis-Preffer years ago. In 2001, she was a non-working registered nurse and stayed at home with her two teenage children after the death of her husband. That fall, she participated in a church retreat where the group explored their spiritual gifts. The guest speaker learned about her experiences and spiritual gifts and recommended that she pursue counseling. Even after the retreat, God pointed her in that direction, so she enrolled in the counseling program at Regent University.

Dr. Davis-Preffer will never forget her first counseling job at a Christian group practice. There are things that still stick with her that she shares with her students about this first counseling experience.

“One of my clients was diagnosed with a Conversion disorder,” shares Davis-Preffer. “This client taught me that sometimes people choose to be emotionally unhealthy because it serves a purpose that makes their life more bearable. It’s sad, but it taught me that my goals for the client are not always their goals, and I must respect the client’s rights to choose for themselves.”

Davis-Preffer also learned what not to do!

“I remember when my supervisor fell asleep once in a co-therapy session we were doing and another time, took off their shoe and started polishing it…in session!” She shares. “This taught me that not all therapists are great or even good therapists and that it was up to me to determine the type of counselor I wanted to become.”

After her experience working at the Christian practice, she moved to an agency that provided in-home services to youth and their families who were involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare programs. During that time, she saw many sad and scary things, which helped her realize this was not the area that she wanted to specialize in. At around that time, she was invited to enter a new, online Ph.D. program and began to focus on teaching. Her next counseling role was as the director of career services for a private college, where she used career counseling theories and strategies to help students plan their futures.

Once she graduated with her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, she chose to open her own private practice and eventually began teaching at Grace. She now teaches full-time with the online masters of counseling and practices part-time via telehealth. She specializes in trauma, grief, anxiety, and relationship issues. She recently was trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and will complete her certification in October.

In 2020, Dr. Davis-Preffer was promoted to full-time professor for the online Masters of Counseling. She started at Grace as an assistant professor in 2012 and was the Online Program Director from 2013 to 2015. Her current role is full-time faculty and advisor in the CMHC program, and she is the interviewer for all applicants to the program. She loves the Grace mental health counseling program!

“I absolutely love working and talking with the students in our Grace mental health program about the fantastic things they can learn and will do as they become counselors,” Davis-Preffer shares. “One of my favorite things to do is to introduce new ideas to students and then make room for them to talk about how those ideas fit into their view of themselves as counselors helping others. I teach Internship and Advanced Internship, and I love discussing cases with students as they work through how they will diagnose and plan treatment for their clients. “

Counseling is a serious profession, and Dr. Davis-Preffer reminds her advisees that it takes time, energy, and experience to learn to be a good counselor.

“I always tell my advisees to learn to develop and set boundaries as they figure out how to balance the necessary time to learn what we are teaching while balancing the need for rest, relationships, and fun. Boundaries and balance are difficult to achieve, but we ask it of our clients, so it is something we need to model.”


If you’re interested in using your past experiences to help others, the online Masters of Counseling program at Grace College could be perfect for you! Learn about Grace mental health counseling today.

Tagged With: Counseling, Grace Online, Student Stories