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School of Counseling

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.

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 ( or visit

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

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

Richmont One Step Closer to CACREP Accreditation

ATLANTA, GA AND CHATTANOOGA, TN – JANUARY 2016 – Richmont Graduate University received word from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) that a site visit will occur in the next 12-15 weeks. This is the final linchpin before a decision can be made regarding CACREP accreditation of Richmont’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

President Bob Rodgers says, “This is wonderful news for our university, and we are excited to continue God’s work in new ways as a result of this opportunity. I am so grateful for everyone that has played a part in this process. We look forward to hosting the CACREP team very soon.”

CACREP accredits universities based on the rigor of their standards, the quality of their content, and their balanced approach to counselor education. Counselors in training who graduate from CACREP-accredited programs routinely experience higher first-time pass rates on the National Counselor Exam (NCE), better brand recognition of their degree, and a streamlined process toward licensure in the field. By choosing a CACREP-accredited graduate program, students are certain they will receive high quality, well regarded content to prepare them for their new career in mental health work.

Dr. Stephen Bradshaw, Dean of the Schools of Counseling and Psychology, said in an announcement to Richmont students, “We anticipate the many ways in which this will strengthen Richmont’s reputation and better serve our students.”

CACREP accreditation is currently being sought for Richmont’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; however, the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy will undergo a similar process in the near future with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Richmont Professor Publishes Undergraduate Textbook

CHATTANOOGA – DECEMBER 2015 – This fall, Dr. Timothy A. Sisemore published his eighth book, entitled The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out. The textbook, destined for undergraduate courses in the ever-expanding field of the psychology of religion, has met with high praise from scholars in the discipline, including Kenneth I. Pargament and Mark R. McMinn.

Sisemore’s text looks at psychological research regarding religious practices worldwide to reflect on the ways in which our belief systems shape our lives in both positive and negative ways. Topics discussed in the book range from the historical roots of the psychology of religion to the biological impact of faith and the psychological character of near-death experiences. The book does not stop with conventional faith systems and practices, however: even serpent-handling is examined. Other topics include conversion experiences, spiritual development across the lifespan, the relationship between religion and culture, and clinical application of the research of psychology of religion.

Sisemore takes a mixed methods approach in the textbook, offering a survey of the empirical literature but also integrating qualitative stories from persons of faith across the globe, including Africa, Lebanon, Iran, and China. This affords the text a unique and effective balance of data presentation and phenomenological experience. The textbook also features practical material, such as healthy and unhealthy ways to pray. For example, Sisemore explores the phenomenon of individuals attempting to use God for wish fulfillment.

While Sisemore’s stance is pro-faith, he refrains from slanting the text to the extent possible, which he considers one of his chief struggles during the text’s composition. “How do you stay neutral in a discussion of religion?” he asks. Responding his own question, Sisemore garnered stories from all major faith traditions, including atheism. While it is the author’s hope that the message of faith shines compellingly through The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, his focus is squarely on his audience and showing respect to each faith system that will inevitably comprise it. Sisemore aims throughout the text to demonstrate the beauty of faith and its positive effect on most lives.

The title will be released on December 21, 2015.

“Up-to-date, comprehensive, informative, engaging, and easy to digest – this is the text of choice for undergraduate psychology of religion courses. Sisemore has done a wonderful job capturing the psychology of religion and spirituality in its richness and complexity. His approach is fair-minded and scholarly, yet always sensitive to the experience of religion and spirituality ‘from the inside out.’ A marvelous contribution to the field.”

Kenneth I. Pargament, Ph.D.

Bowling Green State University

Editor-in-Chief, APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Vols. 1 and 2)

“In The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Dr. Sisemore has crafted a remarkable volume that is simultaneously concise, thorough, and accessible. I heartily recommend this book for undergraduate psychology of religion courses and expect it will be used in a number of postgraduate programs as well.”

Mark R. McMinn, Ph.D., ABPP

George Fox University

Former President of American Psychology Association’s Division 36,

Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

“Dr. Sisemore’s book is one of the most interesting I have ever read! He provides a clear survey of psychology of religion and spirituality, addressing a variety of issues – including controversial ones. Dr. Sisemore’s background in both psychology and theology gives him a unique perspective. Therefore, I highly recommend this great book for students in psychology and related disciplines, but also to researchers, colleagues, professionals, and all who have an interest in the topic.”

Mojtaba Dalir, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Lecturer at Islamic Azad University, Tehran Branch

Member Board of Directors, Iranian Association of Social Psychology