Meet Our Newest Provider: Rod Dunlap, M.A., IMFT

RWPS is excited to welcome Rod Dunlap, M.A., IMFT to our team. He comes to us with a wealth of experience in ministry and a passion for the Catholic faith, especially Theology of the Body. He will be seeing patients at our headquarters on the West side of Cincinnati. Rod took some time to introduce himself to our community through a little get-to-know-you Q & A.

Q:  Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Rod Dunlap, and I was born and raised here in Cincinnati, OH. I graduated from Moeller High School and went on to Ohio University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Sports Science. From there, I moved to Cleveland where I worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team for a season. It was during this time that I felt the Lord calling me to do something “more.” The idea of working for sports teams for a living felt like I was wasting the talents and gifts with which I had been blessed. I moved back to Cincinnati and took a job as a counselor at a group home for at-risk kids called Boys Hope, Girls Hope.

I spent almost seven years there, and it was during this time that I really encountered the Lord for the first time through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. His mercy was and continues to be so powerful to me. I told him during this time that I would spend my life serving Him and “working” for Him. Shortly after this awesome experience, I began a graduate program at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Religious Studies. After two years, I graduated with my M.A. in Religious Studies, and a week after that, I got married to my amazing wife Maria!

A year later, I got my first job in ministry as a youth minister at St. John the Baptist parish in Colerain. I spent four years there creating a junior high, high school, and young adult ministry programs. It was during my time as a youth minister that the Lord showed me so many people who were suffering and needed a path to healing. I soon began my journey to get my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I was excited to begin this journey that would last 6 years. While working my way through clinical training, the Lord had more for in store for me in ministry and called me to work for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, first in Sports Ministry then as the Coordinator for the Anti-Pornography initiative.

I finally graduated in 2021 with my M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and shortly after became licensed in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. I began working for a private practice in Kentucky called Positive Pathways in Dec. 2021 up until I was invited to join the team here at Ruah Woods. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to allowing the Lord to use me as his hands and feet to provide healing to those in need in our community.

Maria and I have been married 11 years now, and the Lord has blessed us with 8 beautiful children, one up in Heaven, and 7 at home. Our faith is the foundation for everything we do. The Lord has been at our side through all the ups and downs, and we continue to go to Him with everything, submitting ourselves daily to His plan for our lives.

Q:  What inspired you to become a therapist?

I was inspired to become a therapist through a variety of factors. First off, people have told me throughout my adult life that I was a good listener, which is a huge requirement for an effective therapist. Secondly, for a long time I had an image of sitting in an office and people coming to me for help or guidance. I believe the Lord was putting this image on my heart. It wasn’t until my wife finally told me that it was time to start doing something about it that I took steps to make it a reality. And lastly, I know our world is full of suffering and that so many people are struggling with mental health issues and the stresses and strains of everyday life. My desire is to help remove some of these “roadblocks” as I like to call them so that they can grow in true health and have the relationship with the Lord He is calling them to.

Q:  What exactly is a “Marriage and Family Therapist”?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) are defined by the AAMFT as “mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.” As an MFT, I am trained to look at people’s struggles through the lens of the relationships and social structures in which the person is situated and not limit my view to merely the isolated individual. Basically, MFTs believe that the problems people bring to therapy do not emanate solely from within them but are often symptoms of the relationships they have with other people.

Q:  What types of patients and difficulties do you treat?

I provide individual, marital, and family therapy. I feel quite comfortable working with children, adolescents, and adults struggling with a wide range of issues including depression and anxiety problems, trauma and abuse, childbearing loss, OCD & scrupulosity, pornography addiction, relationship issues, marital strain, parenting challenges, family of origin wounds, attachment problems, and the like.

Q:  What role does your Catholic faith play in your work?

My faith is the foundation of all that I do including my work as a therapist. Every day before work, I ask the Lord to use me as His hands and feet and to let the Holy Spirit speak through me to the patients that I see. I pray also for my patients that their hearts will be open each session so that they can be a willing participant in the healing process. I believe that healing can happen in many ways, and therapy is one of them. I am very humbled that the Lord has called on me to help others find healing and peace.

Q:  What do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy spending time with my wife and our seven kids. Our life gets pretty hectic at times, so it is great to just hang out with them. I also enjoy swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, watching sports (live or in person), good movies, and playing golf.

To learn more or to make an appointment with Rod, please call 513-407-8878.  

Happy Birthday Papa

This May 18th is the 100th anniversary of the birth of our beloved Pope St. John Paul II.  Typically, only people who have had a truly historic impact have their birthdays celebrated long after they are deceased.  John Paul II was one such historic person.  I would like to reflect briefly on some of the long-lasting impact he has had and will continue to have on the Church as well as some of the impact he has had on me personally.

For many younger people today, it is difficult to truly appreciate the immensity of John Paul II’s impact on the Church.  To put his pontificate in context, we have to recall the significance of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).  Ecumenical councils are rare and only called when the Church needs to face major challenges in its mission.  Vatican II, as it is often named, was in many ways an attempt to bring the First Vatican Council to completion as it was cut short by the Franco-Prussian war.  The scope of Vatican II was immense:  nothing less than reexamining the relationship of the Church with the modern world.  As a newly ordained auxiliary bishop and later Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła participated in all four sessions of the Council.  His stature and reputation as an outspoken, courageous young bishop of immense intellect grew to the point where he was appointed to the committee that drafted what became perhaps the Council’s defining document, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes).  

Inspired by this experience, Archbishop Wojtyła became the only participating bishop to write an entire book summarizing the teaching of the Council and giving guidelines for its implementation (Sources of Renewal).  Not long after, Pope Paul VI named him a Cardinal of the Church, perhaps as a way of thanking him for his contributions at the Council and for serving as a key theological advisor in preparing the encyclical letter Humanae vitae (1968), which dealt with thorny questions concerning marriage, sexuality, and birth control and reaffirmed the traditional Catholic teaching that sexuality is meant to unite a man and woman in marriage and must always be open to life. 

It is difficult today to imagine the shock that the Church and even the world experienced when Cardinal Wojtyła was elected to the papacy in October 1978 and took the name John Paul II.  He was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years, and he hailed from – at that time – a communist country (Poland).   This alone would make his an historic pontificate, but it was only the beginning.  Whereas his predecessor, John Paul I, reigned for merely a month, John Paul II reigned for over 26 years, making his the third longest pontificate in the history of the Church.  He accepted his mission from Christ to serve as the Church’s principal interpreter and implementer of the Second Vatican Council as well as to lead the Church into the Third Millennium.  He did so with courage and faithfulness.

There is hardly an aspect of the Church’s life that was not impacted in significant ways by the teaching and leadership of this saintly Pope.  Under his guidance, the Church produced a new Code of Canon Law governing all major aspects of ecclesial life.  Later came the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first universal catechism since the Council of Trent.  It will remain for generations “a sure norm for teaching the faith.”[1]  Among his many gifts to the Church include is 14 encyclical letters, 14 apostolic exhortations, and thousands of speeches, audiences, and other documents.  His writings covered everything from the Persons of the Trinity; evangelization; the dignity of the human person; social issues such as the dignity of work, distribution of resources, and human rights; priests, bishops, consecrated religious, and the laity; marriage and family; the Eucharist; Mary; the rosary; sin, mercy, and reconciliation; fundamental principles for morality; and much more.  Incredibly, he canonized 482 new saints and beatified 1338 new blesseds.  He gave us the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary and instituted Divine Mercy Sunday.   Liturgically, he oversaw the reform of the reform, so to speak, which culminated in the publication of the third edition of the Roman Missal, which we use today.  Then, there is his pivotal role in the fall of Communism in Poland and across Eastern Europe.  The list goes on.

Of course, we at Ruah Woods are especially indebted to him for his Theology of the Body, which he gave to the Church at his Wednesday general audiences in the early years of the pontificate as well as the founding of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and the Pontifical Council for the Family.[2]  These gifts were meant to help the Church proclaim the nature and dignity of the human person, love, marriage, and sexuality in these confusing, uncertain times. 

For me, personally, I regard myself as a “JP2 Catholic.”  I was actually born during the interregnum, i.e., the time between the death of John Paul I and the election of John Paul II.  I had little awareness or appreciation of John Paul II until, as a college student, I began to learn more about him and his teachings.  My wife and I were blessed to be taught by a priest who earned his doctorate at the John Paul II Institute as we were preparing for marriage.  We read John Paul II’s documents on marriage and family at that time and were taught aspects of Theology of the Body in class with other young people.  We fell in love with the Church’s vision for marriage and family as expressed through the Pope’s writings.  For me, it became my principal inspiration for becoming a Catholic psychologist.

In graduate school, I immersed myself in studying John Paul II’s teaching.  As an aspiring Catholic psychologist, I wanted to understand the human person as he did.  I studied all of his encyclicals and many of his other papal documents, books, and pre-papal writings.  I took graduate seminars on his thought, including Theology of the Body.  The more I read of his teaching, the more I wanted to know, and the more I fell in love with this man.  He became for me a spiritual and theological mentor.  Even more, as I read his thought, I felt a closeness to him.  He became a father-figure for me who was teaching me how to see the world, how to live, and how to be a Catholic man in the Third Millennium. 

Even today, I regularly read and re-read his writings for my own personal and professional enrichment.[3]  I pray to him daily, seeking his intercession to be the man, son, husband, father, and psychologist I am called to be.  He is my teacher, my guide, my father, and my friend.  For the last 10 years or so, I have been blessed to serve as an adjunct professor at the Washington, DC branch of the John Paul II Institute.  When I go to Washington to teach, I always make a visit to the St. John Paul II National Shrine to visit the museum of his life and venerate his relic.  Those visits move me to tears of gratitude.  Truly, I would not be who I am today – perhaps not even Catholic – without the life, witness, and teaching of Pope St. John Paul II.  With deep affection, happy birthday, Papa!

[1] John Paul II, apostolic constitution Fidei depositum.

[2] The Pope officially founded these two new entities on May 13, 1981, the same day he was shot by his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca.  May 13, of course, is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima who had given the three children of Fatima a vision of a pope being gunned down decades earlier.  John Paul II believed that he was saved by Mary’s hand.

[3] Currently, I am working my way through his general audiences from the years after Theology of the Body during which he gave a systematic catechesis on all the articles of the Creed.