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School of Counseling

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” (www.cacrep.org). 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 www.chattanoogacru.com.

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 (www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy). 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” (www.cce-global.org). 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.

Richmont Introduces the Institute of Traumatology

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – FEBRUARY 2016 – Richmont is partnering with the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology (GCAT) to offer certification through the Richmont Institute of Traumatology (RIT). Individuals completing the course of study are granted Green Cross recognition as Field and Certified Traumatologists. Growing out of a desire to bring hope and healing to those who suffer from trauma, RIT operates in a three-tiered approach: (1) Educate students in trauma treatment through theory and clinical work, (2) Treat those who have suffered trauma through the establishment of trauma centers, and (3) Train professionals to help people in crisis following traumatic events.

President Bob Rodgers says, “The focus of the Gospel is to reach out to those who are hurting. The Richmont Institute of Traumatology will allow us to do this more effectively as an organization and to train others to do so as well.”

The next opportunity available from the Richmont Institute of Traumatology is a training in Disaster, Stress, and Field Traumatology, which will occur on the Atlanta campus (1900 The Exchange SE, Atlanta) on April 29 and 30. This event fulfills a partial training requirement for the Green Cross as a Field and Certified Traumatologist.

Dr. Vanessa Snyder, a professor of counseling and traumatology at Richmont, says, “We are proud to be a university that is connected to the organizations doing this kind of work. We are bringing holistic help to traumatized individuals. Clothes and money alone are not enough.”

The Green Cross Academy of Traumatology (GCAT) is an international organization that provides humanitarian relief in the form of trained service providers and traumatologists, most of whom are licensed mental health caregivers. When traumatic events occur anywhere in the world, GCAT is pleased to respond to requests for assistance from individuals and organizations. Richmont is excited to be a part of such a vital mission.

For more information, contact Vanessa Snyder (vsnyder@richmont.edu) or visit www.greencross.org.

Richmont to Participate in National Research Project

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – FEBRUARY 2016 – Richmont has been invited to participate in Project Amazing Grace, a prestigious national research project jointly spearheaded by Biola University and the University of California at Davis, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. The research initiative will investigate the nature, impact, and influence of understanding God’s grace. To that end, the project’s foundational question states, “How and in what ways is grace fundamental to human existence and wellbeing?”

Dr. Timothy Sisemore, Director of Research, says, “Richmont is pleased to see its research initiatives noticed and enhanced by participation in these important meetings.”

In January, Sisemore presented to Project Amazing Grace’s Core Research Team the story of the Richmont Grace Scale and its evolution into the Dimensions of Grace Scale, which is to be published shortly in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Future directions of the scale include planned theses for two Richmont students.

Sisemore was further invited to participate in Biola University/Rosemead School of Psychology’s annual Institute for Research on Psychology and Spirituality, a select gathering of top researchers in the field in which participants learn of others’ research projects and exchange ideas. Sisemore presented Richmont’s Psychotherapy Outcomes Project (RPOP) to the group as a model for training and data gathering.

President Bob Rodgers says, “Richmont is honored to be included in this important research project. Understanding the grace offered to us by God transforms the way we live. As such, Richmont is committed to studying the application of grace in the field of psychology to reshape clients’ lives for years to come.”

Project Amazing Grace’s primary empirical goal as stated on the project’s website is, “to investigate how humanly experienced divine grace has the capacity to profoundly enhance and elevate human flourishing.” For more information, please consult Project Amazing Grace’s online presence at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Amazing-Grace/696913600428471?hc_location=ufi.

Seven Richmont Faculty Chosen to Present at CAPS National Conference

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – JANUARY 2016 – Seven core faculty members from Richmont Graduate University have been selected to present at the national conference of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS). Proposals are chosen via blind review of several readers. Out of the thousands of submissions from scholars across the world undergoing scrutiny from multiple leaders in the field, seven Richmont proposals received acceptance letters.

“Richmont is excited to pursue its goal of being a contributor to new knowledge in Christian counseling, not just a distributor of knowledge. To that end, we are blessed to have seven of our core faculty presenting at the premier Christian counseling and psychology conference in the world. This shows that the research being done here is having a national and international impact,” says Dr. Timothy Sisemore, Director of Research at Richmont.

The national conference will be held March 10-12 at the Hilton Pasadena Hotel in Pasadena, California. Several hundred attendees will experience workshops, trainings, and presentations within the framework of the 2016 theme: “Connect: The Healing Power of Relationship.” Sessions by Richmont faculty include Facing Death: Faith, Coping, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, by Dr. Timothy Sisemore; Commercially Sexually Exploited Children: Critical Levels of Community Intervention and Treatment, by Dr. Sonja Sutherland and Dr. Lorrie Slater; Encouraging Self-Care in Counselor Training: Advancing Healthy Practices of Student Interns, by Dr. Jama White, Dr. Mary Plisco, and Dr. Amanda Blackburn; Sexual Trauma Therapy and Sex Therapy: Complement or Conundrum?, by Dr. Vanessa Snyder and Dr. Debra Taylor; and Facing the Ethical Challenges of Being a Person of Faith in the Mental Health Professions: A Roundtable, featuring Dr. Timothy Sisemore and three colleagues.

President Bob Rodgers says, “We are thrilled for the work of our faculty members to receive recognition at this prestigious conference. Scholarship at Richmont is an aspect of stewardship; we use the intellectual capabilities the Lord has given us to discover how better to serve those in need and then share what we learn with others in our field.”

The mission of CAPS is to further psychological research in a Christian lens, always keeping the focus on those who are served and how to best reach them with the hope and love of Christ. CAPS members include a wide spectrum of professionals, including psychologists, counselor educators, psychiatrists, physicians, marriage and family therapists, social workers, counselors, researchers, pastors, chaplains, theologians, and students in related fields. The ideas shared at the national conference often become catalysts for new projects, thus creating an ever-increasing reach for Christians in the helping professions.

For a full schedule of events at the CAPS conference, visit CAPS.net.