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New Certificate in Racial Trauma, Intervention and Justice

Richmont is pleased to announce the approval of our latest program: The Graduate Certificate in Racial Trauma, Intervention and Justice. This is Richmont’s first program to result from a collaboration between faculty in the School of Counseling and the School of Ministry, empowering students to meet the challenge of racial justice as practitioner-scholars at the nexus of history, counseling psychology and theology.

“Richmont has been doing work in this important space for years,” explains Acting Provost, Joshua Rice. “This innovative certificate program not only codifies the stated value of diversity within our Strategic Plan but positions us as Gospel-centered thought leaders in the field.”

Dr. Sonja Sutherland, Chief Diversity Consultant to the President comments, “Richmont will equip its students and community to make credible and action-oriented contributions in working with everyday people struggling beneath the weight of racial trauma and social injustice.”

The first cohort will launch in the spring of 2022. Click Here to Learn More

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Download the Graduate Certificate in Racial Trauma, Intervention & Justice PDF

Richmont Welcomes New Full-Time Faculty

Richmont is pleased to welcome 3 incoming faculty to begin this fall, in addition to a new Director of Atlanta Clinical Training:

Dr. Michael Jones Dr. Michael Jones comes to us from the clinical faculty at Southern New Hampshire University, where he taught a full load while also maintaining a robust private practice with special emphasis on church outreach.  Also a seminary graduate, Dr. Jones completed his Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at Regent University, where his work focused on self-esteem among biracial adults.  “Richmont has a strong history of equipping therapists with a mission of changing the world,” he says. “I truly feel that is God’s calling that I join the faculty. I am excited about our future together and the Kingdom work we will accomplish.”  Dr. Jones is Richmont’s first faculty member exclusively dedicated to serving our online students.

Dr. Jack UnderwoodDr. Jack Underwood is an Atlanta local, the founder of Rise and Renew Counseling with offices in Buckhead and Norcross.  He completed his Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at Mercer University, where his research focused on utilizing the Delphi method to measure self-love.  “One of the greatest experiences, for me personally, as a counselor educator is to integrate Faith and Spirituality into the learning process for counselors-in-training as they grow in their Christian and professional identities” he explains.  “Being in the business of healing and transformation and having the freedom to bring the ultimate Healer and Transformer into the classroom at Richmont Graduate University, is an experience I am very much looking forward to and grateful for.”  Dr. Underwood will be working from the Atlanta campus.

Dr. Preston HillDr. Preston Hill has been serving us tremendously in an adjunct capacity, most notably teaching Dr. Dan Sartor’s courses during his sabbatical.  Dr. Hill recently completed a PhD in Theology at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, having previously completed an MLitt degree in Analytic and Exegetical Theology from the Logos Institute at St Andrews.  This fall he is releasing his first coauthored book with Scott Harrower and Joshua Cockayne entitled Dawn of Sunday: The Trinity and Trauma-Safe Church (Cascade), and is releasing his first edited volume entitled Christ and Trauma: Theology East of Eden (Pickwick Publications).  He has worked closely with Dr. Sartor on key curricular revisions to ensure that Richmont’s hallmark of integration is sustained throughout our coursework.  Dr. Hill is also in the process of supervision for licensure as a pastoral therapist in Tennessee.

LaShay DowleyOur new Director of Clinical Training in Atlanta is LaShay Dowley, a Richmont alumnus and an entrepreneurial clinical leader who has experienced success over a remarkable 20 plus-year career.  She is the owner of Enduring Connections Counseling Group in Decatur, and has served our interns in several roles, including a Hope Center site coordinator. “Shay Dowley is excellence personified,” Dr. Myers comments. “She has been of our greatest assets, often serving six Richmont interns a year for several years. She brings a wealth of clinical knowledge and experience…I am fully confident that she will provide high clinical excellence and a high level of integrity to the Director of Clinical Training role.” She assumed her new role in July.

Richmont Receives Four-Year, $1.9 million Federal Grant, the Largest in Its History, to Support Interns and Clinical Training

Atlanta, GA., US /June 9, 2021/ Richmont Graduate University has been awarded the largest grant in school history from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration. It primarily supports student interns at clinical sites that offer holistic healthcare to underserved communities. The grant provides funding of $479,000 per year until 2025.  Most of this allocation will be directed toward providing $10,000 annual stipends for twenty-eight interns each year working to gain their required hours at these sites.  The remainder will be focused on delivering mental health and cultural competency training with partner organizations who are also involved in holistic healthcare sites, most notably Emory University’s Urban Health Initiative.

“This is precisely the kind of recognition our University aspires to in its strategic plan. The selection process for federal funding is intensely competitive. To be chosen and funded at this incredible level shows that Richmont is an emerging force on the national scene,” President Timothy Quinnan asserted. “Our team was especially motivated by the fact that the majority of this grant is allocated to provide stipends for students completing their difficult internship year,” added Acting Provost Josh Rice.  “The opportunity to direct over $1 million over the next four years directly to support our interns is indicative of Richmont’s commitment to embodying a ‘students first’ ethos.”

The grant program begins July 1 and includes a retroactive option for certain clinical sites.  In the coming weeks eligible students will be notified.

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number 1 MC1HP42098-01-00 Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training -American Rescue Plan for $479,739 (year 1). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsement be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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For more information regarding Richmont Graduate University and forthcoming initiatives, please visit www.Richmont.edu.

Contact: Richmont Communications
Cell: 404.496.1580
Phone: 404.835.6118
Email: communications@richmont.edu

Founded in 1933, Richmont Graduate University enhances a culture of higher education and innovation, providing master’s level degrees in counseling, ministry, and psychological studies from a Christian perspective. Richmont integrates education and research that advances God’s work of healing, restoration, and transformation in the lives of individuals, churches, and communities. Our belief is that our students should walk into their future careers with a foundation based on the values set before us by Christ. For more information about Richmont’s graduate programs in our school of counseling and school of ministry, please visit www.Richmont.edu.

Watch the 2021 Richmont Commencement Ceremonies via Live Stream

Congratulations Richmont 2021 Graduates!

While not everyone will be able to attend the commencement ceremonies in person on Saturday, May 15th, Richmont is happy to provide access to watch both ceremonies live.

The links will go live about 15 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Atlanta School of Counseling 11:00 am eastern time

Chattanooga School of Counseling & School of Ministry 3:00 pm eastern time

Richmont Welcomes New Trustees

Richmont Graduate University is pleased to welcome two new members to the Board of Trustees in 2021. Flynn Broady and Vivian Ta will participate in their first board meeting this week. Here is an introduction to these leaders new to Richmont.

Mr. Broady had a 26-year career in the U.S. Army, including three overseas tours. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, he led 157 soldiers in combat as an Infantry First Sergeant. He began his service to Cobb County, Georgia in 2008, when he became a Cobb County Assistant Solicitor. He has also served as Veterans Treatment and Accountability Court Coordinator for Cobb, and Prosecuting Attorney for the Cobb County DUI Accountability Court. In 2020 he was elected District Attorney for Cobb County.

Dr. Ta holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington and is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. She is the Director of the Technology, Relationships, and Language Lab which focuses on using natural language processing and text analysis to examine psychological processes.

Richmont Students Receive 2% Spring Tuition Discount

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you safe, healthy, and well. As we settle into this promising new year, I wanted to share how God continues to show His favor to Richmont, more specifically to you: our beloved students.

I am happy to announce that all Richmont students will receive a two percent (2%) tuition discount for the 2021 spring semester. This discount was made possible by Section 18004 of the CARES grant allocated for institutional expenses to all eligible students to receive a tuition discount. Your tuition discount will be calculated using your tuition charges on January 25th.

To receive the benefits of this tuition discount, please ensure your mailing address is current in CAMS. Your tuition discount will be processed early next week.

Join me in giving thanks for all the ways God continues to bless our University.

Best wishes and blessings,

Dr. Timothy Quinnan | President & CEO
Richmont Graduate University

2021 Message from President

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones rested and refreshed from the holidays and safe, healthy, and well. Let me wish you a happy and blessed 2021!

I am writing to you to extend a warm, Richmont welcome as our spring semester begins. Like many of you, I treasure the promise every new year brings. While the unexpected challenges of 2020 tested our mettle, I could not be prouder of our community for how we continued to thrive amidst these challenges. From that experience, I could not be more hopeful for what the Lord will do in the new year of 2021.

Though confident in God’s protection, let’s remain vigilant to ensure the well-being of our community. Given the ongoing realities of COVID, we renew our commitment to your health and safety as we begin a new semester. As an extra layer of precaution, I advised our faculty and staff to maintain online work this week so we can return to campus with all of you, fresh and ready next Monday.  As you return to campus the week of January 11th, we will have the same health and safety procedures in place to ensure your health and well-being. As a quick reminder:

  • Facemasks required while on campus
  • Temperature checks upon entry
  • Maintain social distance (at least 6ft) and proper hand hygiene
  • Regular disinfectant cleanings

Please visit www.richmont.edu/covid for additional information on Richmont’s COVID safety procedures. Stay tuned for a message from Dr. Blackburn (the Dean of Students) about additional information you’ll need for a successful start to the spring semester.

Dr. QuinnanAs most of us reflect on the challenges and triumphs of 2020, I stand amazed at God’s providence towards our University.

Happy New Year and see you next week!

Best wishes and blessings,

Dr. Timothy Quinnan
President, Richmont Graduate University

Richmont Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Sonja Sutherland

  1. What are your roles at Richmont Graduate University?

Dr. Sutherland is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Richmont Graduate University’s School of Counseling, and the inaugural Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. She also serves as the Dean of Assessment, Planning & Accreditation, overseeing strategic planning, and program and institutional accreditation.

  1. What do you love about working at Richmont?

What I love most about being at Richmont is connecting with students, past and present. Contributing to and watching both the personal and professional growth of current students as they walk through the program is one of my most enjoyable professional endeavors. Just this week I experienced the pleasure of reconnecting with Richmont alum. I have enjoyed not only the faculty-student relationships while they were here, but also those ongoing relationships where we talk about their post-graduation achievements and challenges, and even collaboration on research and other professional projects.  It’s a joy to continue watching and contributing to their growth, even after they’ve left the doors of Richmont. Although though the pandemic has led to a great deal more interaction virtually than in person, these connections have not deteriorated in any way.

  1. Tell us about your counseling expertise.

In the field of counseling since 1998, and licensed since 2001, Dr. Sutherland has provided therapeutic services in the private practice, psychiatric residential, in-home, and outpatient mental health settings, for adolescents and adults, through individual, group, couples, and family therapy. She has specialized in working with adolescents, couples and families for the last 22 years. One of Dr. Sutherland’s historical research interests has been evidence-based treatment within residential settings for commercially sexually exploited youth, which was a primary focus of her clinical expertise during her years as a clinician in the psychiatric residential setting. Her ongoing research interests include counselor cultural competence development and counselor supervision.  Within the last 5 years, Dr. Sutherland has provided training, researched, and published in the areas of racial trauma, counselor cultural competence development and training, provision of culturally-informed clinical intervention and supervision, and social justice advocacy. Dr. Sutherland’s primary clinical practice currently centers on providing clinical supervision services to post-master’s clinicians pursuing licensure. 

During her years in the field, Dr. Sutherland has also served as a Director of Mental Health and Clinical Services for mid – large sized outpatient mental health organizations providing therapeutic intervention in the Cobb, Atlanta, and Stone Mountain areas. In this capacity, Dr. Sutherland provided strategic and financial direction, administrative oversight and accountability for clinical service provision, as well as clinical supervision for mental health professionals providing services to the community at large.

Dr. Sutherland is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Georgia, a Board Certified Telemental Health Counselor (BC-TMH), and an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). Dr. Sutherland earned her PhD (Counselor Education and Supervision) from Regent University, Masters of Science (Professional Counseling) from Georgia State University, and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from New York University.

During the last 30 years, Dr. Sutherland has served as a guest lecturer, trainer and presenter for various state, regional and national counselor professional organizations including the ACES, SACES, ASERVIC, CAPS, GCCA, AMHCA, and LPCAGA. Additionally, she has provided training for social, civic, educational and clinical organizations such as Esyr, Kaiser, the University of Georgia, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Skyland Trail, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia, the Foster Families Treatment Association, the Woman’s Missionary Union of New York, the Women’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, Elite Women of Excellence, local churches, and various mental health agencies.

My Personal Endeavors

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Sutherland is the founder and CEO of Legacy Changers Worldwide, LLC, an organization dedicated to providing family education and mental and emotional wellness resources. The Legacy Changers Worldwide umbrella has provided support through the Legacy Changers Counseling Center, The Family Healing RoomVASAYO, and previously as host of a local Atlanta talk-radio show focusing on family relationships and mental wellness. In addition, Dr. Sutherland is an NBCC approved provider of continuing education for mental health professionals, and provides postgraduate training and supervision through Legacy Professional Development & Training, LLC. 

  1. Historically, the BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) community has struggled with the stigma related to mental health counseling. This struggle seems to be lifting within the BIPOC community such that mental health counseling seems to be accepted. Do you agree or disagree?

Certainly, there are pockets within the BIPOC community where the stigma of mental health is not as prevalent. Some of that may be linked to socio-economic status, age, gender and the like. Overall though, I don’t believe there has been significant dissipation of stigma surrounding mental health support within the BIPOC community. I think the entrenchment of that stigma can be attributed to the strength of some of the primary associations counseling has had with social service institutions. Unfortunately, the introduction of mental health services within the BIPOC community decades ago was often linked to a family’s involvement with social service systems that mandated counseling as part of the overall intervention. As a result, the distrust of structurally racist public and institutional policy within social service agencies was extended to counseling by association. This distrust was compounded by the significant lack of BIPOC counselors to work with these families. Being forced to engage with white mental health professionals who historically were quick to diagnose and medicate severe mental illness, while also denying the experience and impact of structural and interpersonal racism, often served to justify this lack of trust. In the last 30 – 40 years, there hasn’t been a significant shift in the realities of this dynamic. The health and racial pandemics of 2020 highlighted the pervasiveness and often life-threatening impact of systemic and interpersonal racism across multiple human experience domains. For instance, the disproportionately negative impact of the health pandemic for BIPOC was linked directly to poverty, poor healthcare options, and inequitable access to safe housing and educational technology). Additionally, there was stark clarity surrounding the significantly higher vulnerability to police brutality that is experienced by BIPOC. All of this contributes to ongoing mistrust, and extends itself to the mental health field. As has been the case for decades, there is still a significant underrepresentation of BIPOC service providers, and there is still a significant lack of understanding on the part of dominant culture clinicians when it comes to cultural differences and the impact of racial trauma and structural racism. These are some reasons the challenges presented by mental health stigma is still a significant concern.

  1. In 2020, racial injustice of African Americans at the hands of Police Officers and others peaked at unforeseen highs this year.  These injustices caused wide-spread tension across the nation and negative attention across the globe. What advice would you offer people who suffer anxiety, depression, and burnout from the cumulative exposure to racial discrimination via the media?

I think it’s more accurate to say that racial injustice has become more obvious to many within the dominant culture, such that there is no way to deny its reality or continue to pretend to be unaware.  What became more visible because of the media is not new – it’s always been the case. And in reality, what people saw on television was only a fraction of all such cases that occurred this year. Only a few of the more sensationalized incidents were highlighted – George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmad Arbury. As time has passed, we’ve seen a decrease in media coverage about what is an ongoing and pervasive reality for BIPOC.  Nonetheless, I agree that the increased visibility of the realities of police brutality through the media that we saw in 2020 was indeed traumatic, and influenced unprecedented and wide-spread tension for many in our country and across the globe.  And I think that tension is more than warranted. At the same time, the experience of anxiety, depression, and burnout from the cumulative exposure to racial discrimination via the media has more to do than with just police brutality. And how one manages the emotional and psychological toll of these cumulative exposures can be complicated and thus will take time, and will look different depending on where you sit at the table of injustice.

For some, their expressions of anxiety, depression and/or other traumatic stress response are related to being repeatedly faced with realities they would prefer not be true. For many of these people it is a jarring of their concept of the world, a dismantling of what they have been taught was true but now seems to be otherwise. And rather than avoiding the impact of this, they are instead being pressed in differing ways to confront the answers to questions ranging from “How can this really be true?” and “Why didn’t I know this?” to “What does this mean about me?”. For people who choose to pursue truth, they will need to be ready to also consider all the distressing and potentially unmooring answers to all the questions in between.

For others who have known these truths as evidenced in their own lives, their realities go beyond anxiety and depression to a much more chronically experienced lifelong complex trauma, often referred to in the black community as racial battle fatigue.   More than the witnessing of the racial injustices of 2020 that have been sensationalized by the media, racial battle fatigue represents the accumulation of repeated lifelong exposure to interpersonal and structural microaggressions. It describes the psychological, physiological and behavioral strain that is experienced because of the significant amount of energy that individuals within the BIPOC community expend fighting against daily interaction with racism. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had in the last many months as our nation has experienced the political war playing out within our country. For everyone that connected with me who were members of the BIPOC community, the emotional and psychological strain was tremendous.  The polarization that was driven by our elected leaders was severe, and a great deal of that polarization was characterized within racially and culturally demoralizing messages, and/or had significantly negative impact on the BIPOC community as a whole more than on any other cultural demographic. The large majority (if any) of those messages were never publicly, collectively and demonstratively rebuked by elected officials who held the most power. Because of this what was at truly at stake was the answer to the question – “Do we REALLY matter?”

So, you can see how the ways people suffer are so different, and the reasons and complexity of their anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress are so different.

Richmont Partners with The Transforming Center

Richmont Graduate University has established an exciting partnership with the Transforming Center of Wheaton, Illinois. The partnership is aligned with Richmont’s School of Ministry, which prepares men and women to fulfill God’s call to transformational ministry. Consummately, the Transforming Center exists to create space for God to strengthen leaders and transform communities. Together, we are set to continue to equip more Christ-like leaders for God’s Kingdom.

The partnership allows Richmont to provide academic credit to Transforming Center students. Specifically, Richmont is providing 12 credits of Advanced Standing in our Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction degree to graduates of the Transforming Community program. The relationship between Richmont and the Transforming Center is especially centered on our innovative cohort model of accredited training in the ministry of Spiritual Direction.

Dr. Joshua Rice, Acting Provost and Dean of the School of Ministry at Richmont states, “We’re very excited to partner with the Transforming Center. Dr. Ruth Haley Barton has been a guest lecturer and friend to Richmont for several years. This agreement represents a new partnership we believe will bear fruit for each institution in the future.”

Students can begin receiving academic credit effective in the spring semester of 2021. Visit the Transforming Center at transformingcenter.org

For more information, please contact Dr. Joshua Rice at jrice@richmont.edu.

CACREP Approves Richmont’s Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) recently approved Richmont Graduate University’s newly launched Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. The online program was determined to be equivalent to the traditional program, which has been fully accredited since 2015. This accomplishment signifies that the online program meets the highest educational and clinical training standards within the counseling profession.

Dr. Stanley Hoover, Associate Professor of Counseling & Online Program Director at Richmont Graduate University, states “This is a significant achievement that affirms the quality and value of our online program. It reflects a great deal of hard work by an outstanding team of faculty and staff who are deeply invested in advancing Richmont’s mission further than ever.”

While the number of online courses offered by the School of Counseling has increased in recent years, students now have the option to complete their entire degrees through distance learning and a series of in-person residencies. This affords students greater flexibility and convenience while also engaging them in the rigorous, highly experiential clinical training for which Richmont is known. Expanding online teaching and learning in these ways reflects the University’s commitment to excellence and innovation. It also creates opportunities for students from all over the world to become part of the Richmont community.

For more information regarding Richmont Graduate University and forthcoming initiatives, please visit richmont.edu.