A Moment with Dr. Keith Myers
Dr. Keith Myers, Dean of Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Richmont Graduate University
1. What are your roles at Richmont Graduate University?
Yes, I work in two roles at Richmont. My first role is Associate Professor. This includes primarily teaching and advising students. I see both teaching and advising as equally vital to mentoring and developing students.
First, teaching in the classroom imparts theoretical and empirical knowledge while applying that knowledge to a real world clinical context. It’s teaching students how to sit with people in the midst of their darkness, and how to celebrate their joys and victories, and everything in between. Teaching is the primary reason I went back to school for my Ph.D. in my late 30s, and I’m so thankful I can teach at such a vibrant and strong community.
Second, I work from a developmental and interpersonal approach in my advising. I have a great passion for mentoring students in their professional careers, while providing support during their management of life. In my mind, advising is where the personal and professional most collide during their Richmont experience. Advising also provides important touch points for the student while navigating what can be a difficult program both academically and intrapersonally.
2. What do you love about working at Richmont Graduate University?
Well, that’s a good question. As I’ve recently begun my 5th year at Richmont, I’ve reflected on this several times. My love is mostly about the people. We have a wonderful faculty…you might be surprised how much this is not the case across academia. So yes, I enjoy collaborating about teaching, writing, and mentoring students with our top-notch faculty. Our staff is also at the top of the game and should not be forgotten. They are usually juggling at least two hats and help us do the day-to-day operations. It’s nice to have a President who supports the faculty and serves as a visionary in making our university a national treasure and helping us develop a plan to achieve that goal. And then, for me chiefly, it’s the care for the students. Due to COVID-19, when we had to transition to fully online in most of the Spring and all of Summer, I missed the professional and personal interactions with the students and their presence in the classrooms. We have some of the finest, brightest, most resilient, and loving students bar none! And you know when these traits show the most? They show most when they begin sitting with clients in the sacred ground of darkness, and that is something I’m proudest of as I get to have a hand in that process of their becoming mental health first responders.
So essentially, this all comes down to what a lot of others have already noted that is distinctive at Richmont – we are RICH in community. And for that, it feels like this will be my academic home for a long time.
3. Many people are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression due to the current global pandemic. Do you have any tips to help?
Absolutely, it’s such a stressful time for many people during this season of uncertainty on so many levels. For me, I’m noticing that it is easy to get out of rhythm or balance with everything going on now. So it has been helpful to remind myself to partake in an established Sabbath, a 24-hour period where I don’t do any work. I reflect about what God has done, and I spend time with family. This has a re-centering effect of sorts. Of course, I encourage those of us to continue with or reengage with therapy as these times have a way of evoking our shadow and personal issues. These two have been helpful for me. But, I think the most important piece in all of this collective traumatic experience is to give ourselves grace.
4. You have served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Military & Government Counseling Association (MGCA), a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA). Why are you passionate about counseling or mental health therapy for military veterans?
Well, it’s been an interesting journey. I tell students that I didn’t find my professional identity/niche until I had practiced 10 years in the field (So if that’s you reading this as a clinician, don’t give up!). After a few months of being unemployed, I secured a job at the Shepherd Center, a top-notch catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. At Shepherd Center, they have an excellent residential program for military members who acquired a brain injury during their service. It was shortly after I started there, that I realized that this population and acquiring additional training in trauma treatment deeply resonated with me. Personally, I realized why this was the case. My dad served in the Navy during WWII and both of my brothers served in various branches, and I realized that this was a good professional and personal fit for me due to the unique things about military culture and values that fit with who I was as a person. So serving on the Board of Directors with the Military & Government Counseling Association for two years made sense to me while empowering more counselors to get into military work.
I am so excited to talk about my first published book, Counseling veterans: A practical guide. This project was a labor of love with my co-author, Dr. David Lane. This book is primarily for graduate students who are training to serve in the mental health professions or for clinicians who want to obtain an introduction to the population and common clinical issues that arise. Each chapter includes a feature called Veteran Voices. This feature is taken from interviews with veterans about the chapter’s topic and really makes the material come alive. Other features include counseling sessions at a glance which provide a case vignette and a glimpse into what an actual session might look like exploring the topic at-hand. It is published by Cognella Academic Press, and readers can obtain a copy here: https://titles.cognella.com/counseling-veterans-9781793516268