Finner-Williams, Paris Michele
Paris Michele Finner–Williams
Psychologist, lawyer, author
Trained as a clinical psychologist and as a lawyer, Paris Michele Finner-Williams has enjoyed a distinguished career as a mental health administrator, holding positions in local, county, and state mental health departments in and around her native Detroit, Michigan. In addition she is a Christian counselor, specializing in marriage counseling and male-female relationship issues. With her husband, Robert D. Williams, a clinical psychiatric social worker, she maintains a private practice that offers counseling to families and individuals.
Finner-Williams began her career as a clinical psychologist before deciding to earn a law degree. She joined the Michigan Department of Mental Health right out of college in 1972, taking a position as a rehabilitation counselor with the state's Office of Rehabilitation Services. In 1978 she became a department administrator for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Health Board's office of developmental disabilities. Among her responsibilities were development and management of the Job Seeking Skills Training Program for the State of Michigan, which provides services to help individuals with emotional, mental, and physical disabilities obtain employment.
Finner-Williams also developed the Wayne County Family Support Subsidiary Program, which provides financial support to help families that have children with developmental disabilities care for their children at home. In addition, Finner-Williams served as administrator of the Wayne County Community Mental Health Service programs for persons with developmental disabilities. In this position she developed and oversaw the Wayne County Probate Court Pre-Screening Program as well as the Wayne County Jail Mental Health Department.
In 1979 Finner-Williams, who had earned a master's degree in educational psychology in 1974 and a doctorate in psychological counseling in 1977, established a private clinical practice, Finner-Williams and Associates Psychological Services. The practice focuses on family and relationship issues, as well as addiction counseling. Realizing that she could enhance her ability to serve her patients if she had the benefit of legal training, Finner-Williams took on the additional challenge of law school while balancing the demands of two busy jobs. She completed her J.D. in 1989, and two years later she established the legal professional association, Paris M. Finner-Williams, Esquire, P.C.
As both a certified trauma services specialist and a forensic examiner diplomat, Finner-Williams is well-equipped to deal with some of the more troubling elements that patients reveal in family counseling, such as spousal abuse or child molestation. Her training in forensic psychology, in which the scientific and professional elements of psychology are applied to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system, especially enables her to help patients whose needs require the intervention of the courts. These circumstances can include physical abuse, divorce cases, child custody cases, restraining orders, and other matters.
In 1992 Finner-Williams left her job with Wayne County to focus fulltime on her private practice, which she runs with her husband. "After Rob and I got married the emphasis became in creating a private practice…where we could be more independent in our choices on how to serve people," Finner-Williams explained to Black News writer Shekini Jennings. "God has been faithful since. Now I have more control over who we serve, how we serve, and am able to serve those who can't afford to pay for services." One of their primary interests is marriage counseling and counseling for couples. With her husband, Finner-Williams has authored numerous articles for popular magazines, such as Ebony and Jet, and has appeared on radio and television talk shows. She is often asked to provide advice on such issues as child rearing, dating, and intimacy.
Of particular importance in Finner-Williams's work is her Christian faith. She is a fervent believer in church-based Christian counseling, and founded the Black African-American Christian Counselors Division of the American Association of Christian Counselors, serving as its first chairperson. In addition she offers free monthly training services to Christian Counselors in the Detroit area through her nonprofit corporation, Finner-Williams Christian Counseling Ministry.
With decades of experience in couples counseling, Finner-Williams and her husband have written two books about building and maintaining positive loving relationships: Marital Secrets: Dating, Lies, Communication and Sex and Single Wisdom. They have also written How to Develop a Church Based Ministry. Their books on marriage and relationships emphasize the importance of making wise and "Godly" choices and of following the example of those in stable, committed relationships. In Single Wisdom, Finner-Williams and her husband encourage those who are unmarried to embrace their lives as single individuals, and to prepare themselves to be faithful and "Godly" spouses if they do marry. The book includes a chapter that draws moral and behavioral lessons from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Finner-Williams told Jennings in Black News that this chapter is probably the most empowering one in the book for African-American singles because it is "focused on…changing the way you perceive your encounters in life and knowing the power you have through Jesus Christ to be in control of self to make the most purposeful choices in life. We really wanted to put the emphasis on self empowerment in this book." Robin Caldwell, reviewing the book in Gospel City, praised its positive message for singles and noted that "its greatest strength is in promoting singleness as a holy, righteous and honorable lifestyle filled with positive (and doable) choices."
Though oriented toward those who are and will likely remain unmarried, Single Wisdom also includes the Finner-Williams Pre-Marital Screening Questionnaire, comprised of 157 questions designed to help those in love move beyond initial infatuation to discover who their beloved really is as an individual. The authors encourage readers to learn as much a possible about their loved one, including not only personal tastes and interests but also such practical concerns as job history and financial status. Too often, Finner-Williams notes, women and men jump into marriage without sufficient knowledge about each other, which is a major reason for the high rate of divorce. Single Wisdom emphasizes the wisdom in couples' taking time to know each other well before they take steps toward a permanent relationship.
At a Glance …
Born on March 19, 1951, in Detroit, MI; married Robert Dee Williams, 1988. Education: University of Detroit, BA, 1972; Wayne State University, MEd, 1974; University of Michigan, PhD, 1977; Detroit College of Law, JD, 1989. Religion: Baptist.
Career: State of Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Detroit, counselor, 1972-78; Detroit-Wayne County Community Health Board, Detroit, MI, department administrator, developmental disabilities, 1978-92; Finner-Williams and Associates, founder and chief executive officer, 1979-; Paris M. Finner-Williams, Esq., P.C., 1991-; Black African-American Christian Counselors Division of the American Association of Christian Counselors, founder; Finner-Williams Christian Counseling Ministry, cofounder and chief executive officer.
Memberships: Association of Black Psychologists; Michigan Association of Black Psychologists; Association of Rehabilitation Counselors; National Rehabilitation Association; National Council of Community Mental Health Centers; Association for Retarded Citizens of Michigan; National Association for the Retarded; Westside Citizens Association for the Retarded; Phi Delta Kappa; Pi Lambda Theta.
Awards: Office of the Wayne County Executive, Distinguished Service Award; Spirit of Detroit Award, 1986; Board of Commissioners, Certificate of Appreciation, 1986; Association of Black Psychologists, Distinguished Psychologist of the Year Award, 1986; Professor Harold Norris Brass Turtle Award, 1987.
Addresses: Office—Finner-Williams and Associates, 17620 West McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48235.
Finner-Williams earned the attention and praise of those in her profession and community. She has received several public service awards. In 2006 the Association of Black Psychologists named her one of its distinguished psychologists of the year.
(With Robert D. Williams) Marital Secrets: Dating, Lies, Communication and Sex, RP Publishing, 2001.
(With Robert D. Williams) Single Wisdom, RP Publishing, 2005.
(With Robert D. Williams) How to Develop a Church Based Ministry, RP Publishing 2005.
Ebony, April 1, 2002, p. 84; May 1, 2003, p. 80; January 1, 2004, p. 140; March 1, 2004, p. 120; June 1, 2004, p. 16; December 1, 2005, p. 84.
Jet, October 14, 2002, p. 16; April 3, 2006, p. 14.
"Congratulations to the ABPsi 2006 Distinguished Psychologists; Dr. Attorney Paris Michele Finner-Williams & Dr. James R. Lanier," Association of Black Psychologists,www.abpsi.org/distinguished.htm (July 16, 2007).
"Dr. Attorney Paris M. Finner-Williams Empowers Singles, Divorcees, Widows, and Widowers through Single Wisdom," Black News,www.blacknews.com/pr/singlewisdom101.html (July 16, 2007).
Finner-Willliams and Associates, www.finner-williams.com (July 17, 2007).
"Single Wisdom: Entertain Your Belief," Gospel City,www.gospelcity.com/dynamic/articles/books_theater/106/ (July 18, 2007).
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