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School of Counseling

Richmont Celebrates Highest Enrollment in University History

On the heels of three giant announcements this summer – our President’s transition, our work with refugees in Greece, and our CACREP accreditation – comes yet another incredible piece of news. Fall 2016 has brought our highest enrollment in Richmont history! At our Orientation Days last week, we welcomed 79 new students into our University’s community. That’s a full 55% increase over the last year!

From a practical standpoint, it’s a wonderful time to join the counseling profession. The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor shows the fields of Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy growing by 19% in the next decade. Labeling this as “Much Faster Than Average,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts a particularly swift increase in demand for the services these professionals provide.

Of course, most future counselors engage in degree programs like Richmont’s because they are far more concerned about individuals’ ability to live fulfilling, productive lives than they are about the current job outlook. The same goes for our School of Ministry students. Richmont is a wonderful place to begin a career in either field, offering fully accredited graduate degrees in counseling and ministry, six certificates, and online options for ministry students.

On behalf of all our incoming students, we are praying for the Lord’s wisdom and joy to cover their academic and spiritual journeys at Richmont over the next 2-3 years. We are grateful that He has entrusted them to us for this season of their professional lives and look forward excitedly to what we know He will accomplish through them in the decades to come. From admission to graduation, we love to support our students in every way possible. Please join us in welcoming all the new faces and sending prayers to heaven for their spiritual and professional formation as they become counselors and ministers for Christ!

Richmont Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

drcaracochranATLANTA AND CHATTANOOGA (August 11, 2016) – Marriage and Family Therapy students, it’s time to celebrate! Richmont has hired a new AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor to support your efforts. A familiar face at Richmont, Dr. Cara Cochran, will be returning as a part-time faculty member on the Chattanooga campus during the 2016-2017 academic year. She has been affiliated with the University since January 2004, at which point she became an instructor and Assistant to the Academic Dean. Upon completion of her doctorate the next year, she was promoted to Assistant Professor and Assistant Academic Dean, and four years later she became an Associate Professor. Beginning in 2011, Dr. Cochran focused on building a private practice and working in prestigious posts at Tennessee Temple University, which has since merged with Piedmont International University. We are so pleased to have her back with us as a part-time faculty member this academic year.

ILT ACA picKeith Myers, who has served as a clinical supervisor for Richmont since 2015 and will serve the institution as an adjunct faculty member in the fall, has accepted a full-time faculty position on the Atlanta campus in January 2017. With a targeted dissertation defense date of December 2016, he plans to hold a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision with specialized clinical practice in facilitating trauma therapy and advocacy work with veterans. Myers recently served as Co-Chair on the American Counseling Association (ACA) Ethics Committee while serving on that committee from 2013-2016. He currently works as an adjunct faculty member for both Mercer University and Argosy University. His background encompasses extensive work in trauma, ethics, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On a personal note, he is married to one of our own: Richmont alumna Lavinia Myers.

Welcome to both of our new hires! We are excited for you to join our community and look forward to our students’ and faculty’s lives being blessed by your presence on our campuses. All the best in the new academic year!


Richmont Graduate University is a Christ-centered education and research institution committed to equipping graduates who function at the highest professional levels of clinical counseling and vocational ministry. The University offers fully accredited graduate degree programs from its School of Counseling and School of Ministry with the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling holding the highest accreditation available in its field (CACREP). With campuses in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and online, Richmont is known for its distinguished faculty and unparalleled in-field training, including serving some 25,000 clients annually through ten community counseling centers near its campuses. Richmont’s is the oldest faith-integrated counseling program in the eastern U.S., and its graduates consistently rank among the top 15% nationwide in licensing test scores. The University enjoys a rich heritage beginning in 1935, with roots in the former Psychological Studies Institute in Atlanta and the former Chattanooga Bible Institute.

Richmont Receives Highest Form of Accreditation Available to Counseling Programs Nationwide

ATLANTA AND CHATTANOOGA (August 9, 2016) – In a time when U.S. suicide rates are steadily climbing and mental illness is at an all-time high*, Richmont continues to excel in training licensed counselors. The University has again proven its excellence by garnering accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the preeminent accrediting body for counselor education. CACREP is the highest form of accreditation to counseling programs, denoting excellence in academic and clinical performance.

A SACS-accredited university since 2003, Richmont received news of the additional accreditation last month after 3 years of extensive evaluation of its academic and clinical training programs. Richmont President Bob Rodgers says, “Richmont is proud to have its unique blend of professional excellence with Christian service approved by CACREP. This accreditation lends additional credibility to Richmont’s already outstanding reputation in the clinical counseling field.”

CACREP is specialized within the world of accreditation to assess graduate programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, signaling that the program’s content and quality have been evaluated to meet strict standards set by the profession. Choosing a CACREP-accredited school assures students they will gain the knowledge and experience necessary for licensure and clinical success in most states. Degrees granted by universities with CACREP accreditation lead to a smoother path toward licensure for new therapists all over the country.

“With the job market for mental health counselors projected to grow at more than twice the pace of the average growth for all occupations in the U.S.,** quality education for professional counselors has never been more important,” says Dr. Vanessa Snyder, Dean of Clinical Affairs. Dr. Snyder recently returned from leading a Trauma Team from Richmont to assist Syrian refugees and relief workers in camps in Greece.

Richmont Graduate University is a Christ-centered education and research institution committed to equipping graduates who function at the highest levels of clinical counseling and professional ministry. The University offers fully accredited graduate degree programs from its School of Counseling and School of Ministry. With campuses in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and online, Richmont is known for its distinguished faculty and unparalleled in-field training, including serving some 25,000 clients annually through ten community counseling centers near its campuses. Richmont is the oldest faith-integrated counseling program in the eastern U.S., and its graduates consistently rank among the top 15% nationwide in licensing test scores. The University enjoys a rich heritage beginning in 1935, with roots in Atlanta’s former Psychological Studies Institute (PSI) and the former Chattanooga Bible Institute.

** Source: U.S. Dept of Labor, Health Guide USA

Richmont Achieves CACREP Accreditation

We are proud to announce that Richmont Graduate University has received CACREP accreditation.  The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) has accredited the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. This accreditation is a significant milestone for our university and recognizes the commitment of our faculty, staff, and students to excellence in the field of counseling.

This accreditation is a result of the hard work of our dedicated and talented faculty and staff. The process of accreditation is lengthy and includes self-assessment, a comprehensive report, and peer evaluation. According to the CACREP website: “CACREP Accreditation provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. The student, as a consumer, can be assured that appropriate knowledge and skill areas are included and that the program is stable, professionally and financially” ( The CACREP accreditation is retroactive for eighteen months, meaning the classes of 2016 and 2015 are considered CACREP accredited.

Richmont has a long history of academic and clinical excellence, and this recognition is yet another accomplishment we can celebrate!

Richmont Sends Trauma Team to Aid Syrian Refugees

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – July 11, 2016 – Richmont is sending a team of therapists to work with refugees in Greece and Turkey next week. Dr. Vanessa Snyder will lead the trip, joined by Dr. Lorrie Slater, Richmont alumni Liz Norris and Nia Baker, Richmont student Mary Horton, and Horton’s husband Doug. Paramount in their mission is the training of humanitarian workers in compassion fatigue and trauma counseling and also providing counsel to to families at the detention camp in Lesbos.

“The Bible makes clear our call to attend to the hurting, the marginalized, and the oppressed. This team has answered that call, and we are inspired by their service,” says President Bob Rodgers.

The influx of refugees onto the Greek island of Lesbos in the past year has been staggering, up 40% from the previous twelve months. Many emigrants do not survive the voyage to Lesbos, and many more arrive at Greek shores only to be turned away or deported. Richmont’s team will work with those who are seeking political asylum, literally running for their lives from their home countries. Hungry, impoverished, and traumatized by their circumstances, this population relies entirely upon the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the United Nations, NGOs, and volunteers for their needs to be met. Richmont is proud to be an active part of the mission to serve the hurting in Greece.

Says Dr. Lorrie Slater, “I am so thankful for the opportunity to join with Conscience International and Richmont’s Institute of Traumatology to bring relief to humanitarian workers and refugees in Lesbos. It is a privilege to serve those in need of hope and healing during this time of crisis.”

The team will depart July 17 and return July 26. They request your prayers for safety and strength as they prepare to minister.

Dr. Vanessa Snyder to Present at Courage Worldwide Training

SACRAMENTO, CA – JUNE 2016 – Dr. Vanessa Snyder, Director of the Richmont Trauma Center in Atlanta, will present at a Courage Worldwide trauma training in Sacramento on June 28. Focusing on sex trafficking and its impact on survivors, the training is entitled, “Trauma and the Brain: Applications for Clinicians Working with the Spectrum of Trauma” and will serve clinicians and community members working with trauma-exposed populations and parents of trauma survivors. Snyder will be joined by two other leaders in the field of clinical trauma work, Dr. Angela Chanter and Jon Daily. The three mental health professionals will cover the manifold ways in which trauma neurologically reorders mental processes and behaviors.

“There are so many courageous helpers working with girls and women who have been rescued from trafficking,” says Dr. Snyder. “The uniqueness of this population demands all of us in the field of trauma to continue to study, research, equip those working tirelessly in this fight in order to see lives and families restored.”

Courage Worldwide, Inc. exists to bring hope, healing, and restoration to child victims of human trafficking. Its primary focus is building and operating Courage Houses, which are residential treatment facilities for those rescued from trafficking, and also providing trainings for those working with trauma survivors in various professional fields. Courage Worldwide reports that 100% of its constituents were drug-addicted and diagnosed with mental illnesses prior to treatment at a Courage House; after treatment, 78% of disorders were stabilized and 100% improved her GPA to over 3.0.

“Dr. Snyder is playing a vital role in the care of trauma survivors across the globe. Richmont stands behind what she is doing and looks forward to her continued service for those most in need of restoration,” says President Bob Rogers.

Dr. Snyder is part of Richmont’s own efforts to counteract sex trafficking in the greater Chattanooga and Atlanta areas. She holds a Ph.D. from Regent University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Sex Therapist. She specializes in sexual abuse, complex trauma, dissociative disorders, same-sex issues, and gender identity disorders. She serves as Dean of Clinical Affairs at Richmont and Director of the Richmont Trauma Center in Atlanta.

Richmont Alumni Provide Retreat for UTC Colleagues

CHATTANOOGA, TN – MAY 2016 – Last week, four Richmont alumni teamed up to serve the women on the University of Tennessee Cru staff. Beth Wayland’s ministry, called WITH, Inc., was invited to plan and direct the retreat, focusing on each woman’s personal journey, relationship with Christ, and personal soul care.

President Bob Rodgers says of the alumni, “At Richmont, we are honored to play a part in our students’ spiritual formation, acting as a conduit through which Jesus Christ works in their lives. Alumni like these women make us proud.”

The Cru staff is a college ministry focused on the spiritual guidance of students attending area universities. Their efforts include Bible studies, mission trips, conferences, weekly meetings, and more. Their website is

Richmont Community Counseling Center Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

CHATTANOOGA, TN – APRIL 2016 – This spring, the Richmont Community Counseling Center (RCCC) will celebrate ten years of operation. In 2006 with Dr. Jana Pressley at the helm, the RCCC opened its doors with the goal of bringing subsidized mental healthcare services to underserved populations in our city. Michelle Shelley, who became the Director of the RCCC after Pressley moved out of state, has continued and expanded the vision. The RCCC is now the foremost provider of reduced-fee, bilingual services in the region.

“Richmont takes seriously the call of Christ to serve the hurting and bring them hope. The RCCC has been a major part of our work in this arena, and we are grateful to the therapists and interns that serve clients in need,” says President Bob Rodgers.

Last year the RCCC provided 1,786 counseling sessions, more than half of which served uninsured clients, with the others reaching clients with an annual household income of under $15,000. Furthermore, a full 13% of clients specify English as their second language, giving rise to the need for bilingual counseling. The RCCC is positioned to meet this need with a full-time, licensed bilingual therapist.

“It remains an immense privilege for Richmont to offer access to services that many people could otherwise not afford. Thanks to many individual donors, clients are regularly surprised at how the RCCC is able to extend grace regarding payments for services,” says Director Michelle Shelley, LMFT.

One of the highlights of the past year was the RCCC’s training of its interns in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, an evidence-based practice designed to improve the health of children ages 2-7 by addressing the relationship between parent and child. This was the second year in which RCCC therapists were able to train interns in this model, and they look forward to continuing the practice in the future. Additionally, the RCCC’s bilingual therapist, Rebeca Durand, built and strengthened a number of partnerships around the metro Chattanooga area to better serve the Latino population. Notable community partners now include Clínica Médicos, La Paz, and a number of area Catholic churches.

The RCCC anticipates a second decade of growing, expanding, and loving Chattanoogans who need a hand up as they confront the challenges of life.

Grand Opening of the Richmont Trauma Center in Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, TN – MARCH 2016 – On March 10 at noon on Richmont Graduate University’s Chattanooga campus, the new Richmont Trauma Center (RTC) will host an Open House to introduce itself to the community. Anyone in the public is welcome to participate in the Meet and Greet with trauma therapists and hear about the mission and goals of the Center. The RTC will officially open for counseling services on March 14 and is currently accepting referrals and inquiries.

“Many individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives continue to experience the fallout of the painful experiences for many years,” says RTC Director Dr. Jeff Eckert. “The Richmont Trauma Center has been developed to provide intentional services for those who may feel hopeless and as if they have nowhere to turn to find healing.”

The clinic will exist under the broader umbrella of Richmont Graduate University. In addition to Dr. Eckert, RTC staff will include Kelli Currin, Dr. Rebecca Green, Dr. Bill McGee, Dr. Erica Skidmore, Dr. Jay Spalding, Meaghan Warnock, and Michael Williams. Individual, marital, and family outpatient trauma services will be provided with a treatment-team approach to dealing with a variety of trauma-related issues and clients. Therapeutic groups will also be available, as will monthly trainings for community therapists.

“We are humbled and grateful to be able to open the only trauma center of its kind in a 50-mile radius,” says Richmont President Bob Rodgers. “The wounds caused by trauma have far-reaching consequences that are not always readily visible. At the Richmont Trauma Center, we aim to bring healing and relief to those who struggle daily with trauma-inflicted pain.”

“Complex trauma,” often the most difficult to overcome, refers to prolonged abuse or neglect occurring during developmentally vulnerable times and resulting in severe mental and/or physical illness. Untreated complex trauma has been linked to lifelong impairment; criminality; adoption of high-risk behaviors, such as drug use and multiple sexual partners; heart disease; homelessness; joblessness; suicide; divorce; violence; living in poverty; and higher probability of early death ( These are just a few of the aspects of “fallout” to which Dr. Eckert referred. At the RTC, healing, restoration, and transformation will be accessible, no matter a person’s past.

Richmont CPCE Scores Outshine National Mean Fourth Year in a Row

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – FEBRUARY 2016 – In January, Richmont’s 68 graduating students took the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) and substantially exceeded the national mean of 83.86 for the fourth year in a row. On Richmont’s Chattanooga campus, students garnered a mean score of 98.73, while Richmont’s Atlanta students achieved an equally impressive mean score of 92.55.

“The Board of Trustees and I simply could not be prouder of Richmont’s faculty and students; the scores of the CPCE exam give a clear picture why. These nationally impressive numbers reflect each person’s dedication to excellence in the field of helping others,” said President Bob Rodgers.

According to the website for the Center for Credentialing & Education, the CPCE is used by more than 400 universities across the United States and “provides a…comprehensive exam that meets high psychometric standards” that “compare a program’s results to national data” and “gives students comparative strength and weakness feedback” ( The 160-question exam evaluates students on eight subject areas and allows universities to receive an objective view of student’s level of knowledge.

“We are tremendously proud of our students and their commitment to becoming excellent clinicians,” said Dr. Stephen Bradshaw, Dean of the Schools of Counseling and Psychology. “Their strong performance on the CPCE reveals both their personal diligence and the exceptional quality of the counseling program at Richmont. We are exceptionally proud that as outstanding as these scores are, they don’t even address the integrative part of the curriculum – that aspect of a Richmont education that highlights sensitivity to the work of faith-based issues in the counseling room.”

Performance on the CPCE is considered an indicator of how students will perform on the National Counselor Examination (NCE), which is required for licensure as a professional counselor in most states. Richmont’s 2016 CPCE scores match students’ most recent performance on the NCE. Our students pursuing a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling attained a 100% passing rate with a mean score of 118.5, compared to the national mean score of 109.71 for students in CACREP-accredited programs.