Student Portal Faculty Portal Library Events

News

Richmont Alumna Brings Healing to Human Trafficking Survivors

Emily Aikins makes the world a better place every day. She works with human trafficking survivors at Second Life Chattanooga.

Emily Aikins

Emily, director of survivor services, and her team at Second Life create spaces of trust and security for survivors to process and heal. “These women and men have been through a lot, and healing does not happen overnight,” Emily said.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, minors are the most frequent victims of human trafficking in the state. Victims need access to trauma specialists.

There is a vacuum of services for victims of human trafficking, and Emily is on the frontlines. Never in her dreams, though, would she have thought she would be working with society’s most vulnerable.

Emily’s journey to Second Life began years ago as a whisper when she discovered her heart for teenagers.

While at college in Indiana, Emily worked with local high schoolers through Campus Life. She loved befriending these students and meeting them where they were at–brokenness and all. “These kids instantaneously stole my heart,” Emily said.

She found much of her time filled with these kids amidst laughter and tears, sharing their joys and their sorrows. Emily walked with teenagers through the best of times and, in some cases, the worst of times.

“These kids were funny, fearless and asked questions I didn’t have answers to,” Emily began. “I was honored to become the person in their lives with whom they felt safe. I found that I wanted to develop a professional toolset to help guide other students like the ones I got to know.”

She decided to pursue a graduate degree in counseling.

The spring semester before she graduated, Emily went to Preview Day at Richmont Graduate University’s campuses in Atlanta and Chattanooga. She liked the small class-size and the real-world counseling experience from on-site internships.

She chose to relocate to the Chattanooga campus. Emily began classes in the Scenic City where she learned a wide variety of psychological theories and perspectives, including human sexuality, which would later inform her work with human trafficking victims.

After graduating from Richmont with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, Emily worked as a counselor at Georgia HOPE and then the Bradley County Juvenile Court, working with teens.

“While in the juvenile court system, there were lots of hard moments,” Emily said. “The kids I worked with in the juvenile justice system look like problems to the rest of society. The focus was on the punishment for their behaviors. Instead, I was driven to discover the motive behind these behaviors. There was a larger story at play. They have been dealing with trauma their entire lives.”

She saw firsthand the results of lifelong trauma. Luckily, Emily was equipped to care for them well.

“I learned from classes at Richmont how to look survivors in the eyes and let them know they are a person, not a problem to figure out what to do with,” Emily said. “Everyone has a story. These were individuals who have lived really hard lives. And I was able to see and hear the humanity in the situations, and help them rewrite their stories moving forward.”

These experiences caused Emily to look more deeply into trauma-related fields. She remembered the CEO of Second Life Chattanooga speaking at a class while in grad school about the prevalence and devastating trauma of human trafficking.

She pursued work with Second Life Chattanooga, and she was hired.

“As part of a statewide network, Second Life Chattanooga has helped to position Tennessee as the leading state in the country in the fight against human trafficking,” Emily said. “We do our work every day guided by hope, passion, and an unshakeable belief that we can and will see human trafficking defeated. I’m thankful for Richmont’s emphasis on working with survivors of trauma, because this has been the primary work of my career.”

Emily changes lives every day. She makes the world a better place today and for generations to come. It began with the decision to go to Richmont.

Come and find out how you could change the lives of individuals forever. Learn how a degree in counseling will equip you to better love and minister to the hurting and broken. Take your first step. Contact Richmont.

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Dr. Rice: How to discern your calling

Dr. Josh Rice

Does God still call people? Is this calling just for church work?

What are you called to do? And how would you know?

Dr. Josh Rice is the Dean of the School of Ministry for Richmont Graduate University. He has spent his life walking the tightrope between pastoring a church, executive leadership and academia. All of these stations have been avenues for ministry.

“American Christians have separated the sacred and the secular to our detriment,” Dr. Rice said. “The Protestant Reformation renewed interest in the Biblical idea of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ I believe we live out our priesthood in our vocations–whether as a garbage collector, a lawyer or as a pastor.”

We recently sat down with Dr. Rice to gain a better understanding of Christian vocation. In seven concise answers, he briefly illuminates the idea of calling in the everyday lives of believers.

What is a “calling”?

Calling might also be defined as Christian vocation. It includes elements of one’s profession, of course, but also of the giftedness of each person to uniquely accomplish God’s work in the world.

How might someone determine what his or her calling is?

I believe that we listen to God in many ways. One way, in the words of Frederich Buechner, is to “listen to your life.” When we truly contemplate our unique history, experience, personality and mix of strengths, God begins to make our vocation clearer over time.

Are there practical steps a person might take to discern their calling?

Meeting with a spiritual director is an immediate practical step that can help a person discern the voice of God. Participating in a spiritual gifts test alongside a personality profile may also be helpful.

Is calling just limited to church work?

Emphatically, no! As we celebrate the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, we must re-energize Luther’s call for “the priesthood of all believers.” There is a “traditional” call for ministry. Others, however, have been called to serve and bring the Kingdom to the marketplace.

For instance, there are marketplace leaders from the business world in our Masters in Ministry program. They learn how to use their business acumen to minister through a 9-to-5 context

Why should we care about the idea of calling and vocation?

Younger generations especially want to get involved in living out their faith in the public sphere, not just the private. Christian vocation is the unique theological category that can help an individual to embrace this path holistically.

Which books or essays might you recommend delving into this topic further?

A few that have meant a lot to me are Terry Cross, Answering the Call in the Spirit, and The New Reformation by Greg Ogden. However, one need only look to the literature of the Reformation and the Ignatian exercises to discern much!

How does Richmont’s Masters of Arts in Ministry or Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepare students to live/workout their calling?

The Masters in Ministry truly prepares individuals either for vocational ministry in a local church or Christian nonprofit, or leads to a Doctorate of Ministry for those already practicing. The Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepares students to help future clients or church members to discern their own callings.

The Masters in Ministry and the Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction bring clarity to your call to help others. Contact Richmont today and begin your journey.

Three Emotionally Healthy Ways to Navigate Relationships

Relationships are tricky. Feelings can be complicated.

Arguments and emotional turmoil can be the result of miscommunication and a lack of self-awareness. A lack of connectedness with oneself and others is often to blame.

Dr. Tyler Rogers is an assistant professor of counseling at Richmont Graduate University. He has a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Mississippi where he explored, “The relationships between advocacy competency, adult attachment styles, climate and comfort in training, and social empathy.”

In short, he is a relational expert.

But it does not take an expert to know that relationships can be tough. Friendships, romances, and family ties, all can be sources of both exceptional joy and great discomfort.

Many times, outside factors can cause waves in relationships. Other times, it’s our internal responses that cause the turmoil. We cannot control the external factors, but we can choose how we respond. “Volatility is common in relationships, and often it’s because we don’t know how to accurately and honestly express ourselves,” Dr. Rogers said.

Dr. Rogers has three, “very simple, yet very difficult to execute” tips for navigating and fostering emotionally healthy relationships.

Define

Feelings are universal. Regardless of religion, race, and culture, every person on earth has felt happy, sad, shame, anger, joy, fear, and confusion. “The universal language of feelings allows people to connect and empathize with each other,” Dr. Rogers said.

To connect well with others, you first have to know how you feel. We often give an array of reasons why we’re angry without just stating that we are angry. This is more accusatory than honest. Conversations are volatile from the get-go.

The first step to resolving conflict is to dig into the core of the issue. This process begins with self-examination. One cannot explain how the something or someone made them feel until they take time to explore their feelings and then define them.

“For healthy relationships, you first need to learn your feelings,” Dr. Rogers said. “Define how you are feeling in a given moment. Be aware of what you are feeling first before you explain the inducing factors to someone else.”

It sounds easy, but this takes practice. Our feelings can become lost over the static of our busy lives. It’s not until we sit, dig through and examine how we feel are we able to accurately communicate. “Otherwise, it’s like shooting from the hip,” Dr. Rogers said.

Communicate

“Be able and willing to tell the truth,” Dr. Rogers said. “It’s OK to say, ‘I’m not going to sugar coat this: I am really angry.’ Expressing how you feel is the second way to own it. By doing so, you take responsibility for your feelings.”

People might tell you to “not sweat the small stuff.” So we often try to hide what we feel. God is an emotional being, we are made in his image. We neglect our humanity when we brush our pain under the rug.

“Feelings are not a choice,” Dr. Rogers said. “They are more visceral. What you do with content and knowledge are choices. Who you vote for and how you arrange your Fantasy Football lineup are choices. Feelings are the basic things that happen in all of us. You respect your value when you take ownership of the way you feel. This allows you to be seen by others as who you are without hiding behind morals, religion or extraneous circumstances.”

Have the courage to tell others how you are feeling. Be honest. Be truthful. Don’t minimize your feelings.

Communicating exactly what you feel allows you to connect with one another. It becomes a shared experience. Transparency cultivates intimacy and empathy. Even if someone does not agree, the door is opened for them to know you better. Respect is the desired outcome.

Listen

“Do to others, as you would have them do to you,” is called the Golden Rule. We desire to be heard when we share our inner thoughts. This sentiment goes both ways. Others, too, want to feel heard.

“Be available and listen,” Dr. Rogers said. “It takes practice to learn how to listen while not being defensive or minimizing. Someone might be angry at you, but you can still listen while knowing that it is not because you necessarily did anything wrong. Expectations might have been miscommunicated. By listening without becoming defensive or minimizing, you open the door to connect better and find a solution.”

Listening gives you the opportunity to win the heart of people, not necessarily the argument. Which is more important to you?

Feelings are complex. Understanding what we feel can be murky. We create bridges for authentic conversations and emotionally healthy relationships when we define how we feel and communicate honestly.

Dr. Rogers teaches The Personal Spiritual Life of the Counselor and Healthy Family Functioning. Sit in on one of Dr. Rogers’ classes. Contact us or RSVP for Preview Day.

Richmont Trauma Response Team to Aid in Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Richmont’s Trauma Response Team will travel to Corpus Christi today to provide to services to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  Hurricane Havey made landfall on Corpus Christi on August 25th as a category 4 hurricane with winds over 130 mph.  Corpus Christi and the neighboring communities of Port Aransas and Rockport saw significant damage as Harvey made landfall and then continued on to Houston.  Richmont is partnering with The Field Innovation Team (FIT) to provide support and recovery to the Corpus Christi community.  The Trauma Response Team will be doing field work in trailer parks, providing compassion fatigue support for first responders, and will be connecting victims with FEMA services.

Richmont’s Trauma Response Team will include faculty members Vanessa Snyder Ph.D. (Team Leader), William McGee Ed.D, and Lorrie Slater Ph.D. as well as Richmont graduate JJ Widener.  The team will be posting updates from Corpus Christi throughout the next week to richmonttrauma.com.

Richmont Graduate University provides Master’s level degree programs and continuing education for Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.  Richmont’s Institute of Traumatology provides advanced training in Trauma Counseling which prepares students to work with clients who have suffered complex trauma or who are victims of traumatic events.

The Richmont Institute of Traumatology works in collaboration with Green Cross Academy of Traumatology to train individuals in the vital work of domestic and international trauma relief. We are proud to partner with Green Cross, the world’s premier certifying body for traumatologists, and all members of the Richmont Team have earned GCAT certification.

For more information about Trauma Training and for updates regarding Trauma Team’s trip, visit:  richmonttrauma.com

Q&A with new President Dr. Timothy Quinnan – Part Three

Dr. Timothy Quinnan

On Tuesday, June 20, Richmont Graduate University’s Board of Trustees announced the selection of its next President, Dr. Timothy Quinnan. Dr. Quinnan brings to Richmont an extensive background of serving students and universities including roles as Vice President of Student Affairs at University of Texas at Arlington, Associate Vice President for Campus Life at San Diego State University, Vice President for Student Services at Stark State College, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida State University.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as the President of Richmont Graduate University?

Answer: My leadership agenda will arise from rich and robust consultations with all stakeholders in the Richmont community. It is essential for me to understand what they believe matters most. Together we will forge a shared vision that we can then work collectively to achieve. Clearly, there are a number of priorities that emerged during search process discussions. Among them will be: securing maximum term CACREP as well as SACS accreditation, leveraging the University’s strong institutional identity to create wider brand awareness among new constituent groups, expanding the enrollment and organizational infrastructure to support it, cultivating fresh revenue streams and other financial resources, and enhancing faculty, staff, and student diversity. These describe several important tasks and early milestones to be reached in our journey forward. Together with dedicated Trustees and the high-performance management team already in place, my commitment is to lead the University to fulfill a destiny so clearly portrayed in the mission statement.

Question 5: Is there anything else you want to tell the faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Richmont Graduate University?

Answer: I am honored and humbled to be the next President of Richmont Graduate University. Its transformational impact on the community and the lives of so many is clear and immeasurable. With God’s continued blessings, we will build on this legacy to further advance our mission of preparing students for lives of Christ-centered service.

“While we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially those in the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) 

Most importantly, I cannot wait to meet each and every single member of the Richmont Graduate University family.

Q&A with new President Dr. Timothy Quinnan – Part Two

Dr. Timothy Quinnan

On Tuesday, June 20, Richmont Graduate University’s Board of Trustees announced the selection of its next President, Dr. Timothy Quinnan. Dr. Quinnan brings to Richmont an extensive background of serving students and universities including roles as Vice President of Student Affairs at University of Texas at Arlington, Associate Vice President for Campus Life at San Diego State University, Vice President for Student Services at Stark State College, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida State University.

Question 2: You spent the majority of your career working in public colleges and universities. What is it about a Christian university that appeals to you at this point in your career?

Answer: I engaged with extraordinary students and colleagues at these institutions, yet something deeper was always missing. How could my students begin to answer life’s most transcendent questions, including personal mission, without exploring the role of God in their lives and their relationship with Him? Unfortunately, such conversations are not often part of wider community discourse at public universities. It points to a glaring disconnect in “educating the whole person,” a claim universally made across the higher education landscape. Finding the right opportunity to serve at a Christian university had been a career goal for some time. When I had the chance to lead this University, whose Christian values are identical with my own and are proudly embedded in every aspect of University life, I found it irresistible. Very early into my conversations with the search committee, I knew that Richmont was the professional home I sought.

Question 3: What are some of your proudest moments in your career thus far?

Answer: My greatest reward is seeing how many of the students and staff I mentored over the years gravitated toward the service professions where now they, in turn, are working hard to make the world a better place. Like all educators, I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than seeing those you once taught become dynamic, principled leaders in their own right. Whether they pursued education, counseling, military service, law, medicine, journalism, or other fields, they are emerging leaders. As busy as they are with their own lives now—as spouses, parents, professionals—I am moved by how many continue to initiate contact. They share stories of adding children to their families, career challenges, moral dilemmas, or growth in the Spirit. They also inquire after my wife or daughter, whom they also know, and tell me they pray for us. After a distance of many years and miles, it is touching to see that I had a profound, enduring impact on their lives.   

Q&A with new President Dr. Timothy Quinnan

Dr. Timothy Quinnan

On Tuesday, June 20, Richmont Graduate University’s board of trustees announced the selection of its next president, Dr. Tim Quinnan. Dr. Quinnan brings to Richmont an extensive background of serving students and universities including roles as Vice President of Student Affairs at University of Texas at Arlington, Associate Vice President for Campus Life at San Diego State University, Vice President for Student Services at Stark State College, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida State University.

Question One: Dr. Quinnan, welcome to Richmont Graduate University! We look forward to having you serve the Richmont community as its next President. Can you tell us what brought you to Richmont?

Answer: Without a doubt, I believe that God heard my prayers as well as those within the Richmont community and led us to one another. When I began my search, I was determined to move to a faith-based university where caring, compassion, service, and Christian ethics shaped the organizational culture. It did not take long to learn these qualities existed in abundance at Richmont Graduate University. At each stage of the journey, I discerned through continuous reflection, how a wonderful convergence was taking place between the aspirations of the University and my own. It was awe-inspiring to behold. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Board of Trustees Appoints New President

BOARD OF TRUSTEES NAMES TIMOTHY QUINNAN PH.D. AS NEXT PRESIDENT OF RICHMONT

 

ATLANTA and CHATTANOOGA, June 21, 2017 — Richmont Graduate University, which boasts the oldest faith-integrated counseling program in the eastern United States, has selected the institution’s next President. After a six-month nationwide search, the Board of Trustees unanimously selected Timothy Quinnan, Ph.D. of the University of Texas, Arlington to take the helm of the Christian graduate university.

Board Chairman Talley Clower shared the news with students, faculty, and staff yesterday.

“With more than thirty years in higher education, Dr. Quinnan brings a breadth of experience we need to lead Richmont into future success,” said Clower. “Richmont has been in a season of tremendous growth in recent years—including the addition of new graduate programs and the establishment of the region’s first faith-based trauma center. Dr. Quinnan’s proven leadership makes him well suited to lead Richmont in this season of continued of growth and impact.”

Richmont Graduate University has campuses in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and online. The School of Counseling offers two master’s degrees and five graduate certificates while the School of Ministry offers two master’s degrees and one graduate certificate. Richmont is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school also boasts the oldest integrated (faith-based and academically rigorous) counseling program in the Eastern United States.

Recent evidence of Richmont’s growth and impact includes:
• Record enrollment for the 2016-2017 academic year
• Expansion of trauma counseling work, including sending a team to partner with relief workers in Syrian refugee camps in Greece in 2016
• Opening a new, larger Atlanta-based campus in 2015
• Earning CACREP accreditation, the gold standard in counseling education
• 98% first-time pass rate on the National Counseling Exam
• 90% employment of graduates within six months of graduation

“Richmont Graduate University is positioned squarely at the intersection of academic excellence and sound theology,” said Quinnan. “I’m honored to be invited to be part of this dynamic, purposeful community. I look forward to partnering with the exceptional faculty and staff as we continue to grow the university’s positive impact on and through our students.”

Quinnan brings to Richmont an extensive background of serving students and universities including roles as Vice President of Student Affairs at University of Texas at Arlington, Associate Vice President for Campus Life at San Diego State University, Vice President for Student Services at Stark State College, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida State University.

Former-President Bob Rodgers believes the Board has selected a worthy successor.

“Having had the privilege of serving as its President, I know that Richmont Graduate University is a remarkable community. Richmont’s programs produce students who are fully equipped to take on the challenges of today’s world with skill and compassion,” said Rodgers. “Dr. Quinnan can expect a warm welcome from Richmont’s dedicated faculty and staff, smart and creative students, remarkable alumni, and loyal donors and friends. I am excited that the university will be steered by his capable leadership.”

Quinnan will take up his new role at Richmont starting August 7, 2017.
____________________________________________________________________________

Richmont Graduate University is a SACSCOC- and CACREP-accredited graduate university that merges the best in academic and theological instruction. Through its School of Counseling and School of Ministry, Richmont offers master’s-level training that integrates instruction and experiential learning opportunities. Richmont’s ten counseling centers provide over 25,000 sessions annually throughout the community. With roots dating back to 1933, today’s Richmont offers students three convenient locations — Atlanta, Chattanooga and online. 

New Achievement for Therapist at Henegar

Congratulations to Dr. Lorrie Slater who has completed and passed all requirements for Marriage & Family Therapy licensure in the state of Tennessee. Already practicing as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a doctorate from Regent University in Counselor Education & Supervision, Dr. Slater is a successful therapist at the Henegar Counseling Center and a well-loved professor of counseling. She especially loves to work with children and teens, women in transition, couples, and families. In her academic role, Dr. Slater serves the Chattanooga campus as Assistant Dean of Students and is known to all by her quick smile, compassionate presence, and commitment to clinical excellence. We are so proud of her achievements and excited to see the new ways the Lord will use her at Richmont as an LMFT. Congratulations, Dr. Slater!

Richmont Scholarship Presented at APA, ACA, and CAPS National Conferences

Thirteen Richmont-affiliated researchers, including faculty and students alike, presented at three prestigious national conferences this spring: the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. Research conducted by Richmont faculty and students is already well respected in the mental health field; however, as an increasing number of acceptances are awarded to Richmont researchers, our commitment to making advancements in the discipline is becoming more widely known.

Dr. Timothy Sisemore, Director of Research, delivered the keynote address at the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 36 (Society for Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) National Midyear Conference on April 7-8. His work was entitled, “Having Faith Versus Studying Faith: On Being a Christian in the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.”

The 2017 International Conference for the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) was held March 30-April 1 in Chicago, Illinois. The theme for the year was “Breaking Barriers: Poverty, Race, Culture, and Ethnicity” and featured a plethora of Richmont research. In a preconference workshop, Dr. Timothy Sisemore led an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training for Christian counselors, entitled “‘I’m Not Broken, Just Stuck’: A Christian Translation and Application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.” During the conference, Lisa Haselwander and Dr. Sisemore presented “The Impact of Parenting Style on an Individual’s Understanding of Grace and Attachment to God.” Dr. Doug Rosenau and Dr. Vanessa Snyder presented “Sexual Intimacy and the Myers-Briggs: 16 Ways to Love Your Lover.” Dr. Jama White and Dr. Amanda Blackburn, working with Dr. Steve Stratton, conducted an experiential workshop on Centering Prayer. Finally, Dr. Sisemore and Dr. Cook, of Huntington University, presented “Current and Future Trends in Clinical Training: Implications and Possibilities for Christian Clinicians.”

At the national conference of the American Counseling Association March 16-19 in San Francisco, Courtney Edwards and Dr. Lorrie Slater presented “Religious Orientation as a Predictor of Comfort with Homosexuality in the Church.” Dr. Mary Plisco gave an educational session on emetophobia, the fear of vomiting, in youth. Two additional posters were presented: “Mindfulness as an Intervention to Excessive Pornography Use” by Natalia Dias, Rebecca Lanier, and Morgan Wilkinson; and “Sexual Compulsivity and Attachment Patterns” by Natalia Dias, Dr. Vanessa Snyder, and Christine Baker.

We are so proud of all of the scholarship that originates within our university. Congratulations to these wonderful researchers and writers!