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Faculty Who Teach Our Students

Counselor Training Faculty

Students will take applied and research courses taught by a variety of faculty with a wide range of expertise. Core applied counseling courses are taught by faculty with doctorates in clinical, counseling, or school psychology with a broad range of training and experience regarding diagnosis, assessment, intervention, ethics, as well as multicultural and diversity issues with individuals seeking mental health services. Core research courses are taught by faculty with doctorates in experimental psychology with training and expertise in analysis of behavioral data, research methodology, and a variety of specialty topics (e.g., human growth and development, psychopharmacology, neuropsychological assessment).

Faculty who teach applied courses

Dr. Jeffrey L. Chase received his Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of South Carolina. He completed his internship at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children – Division of Child Psychiatry Medical College of Virginia. Following internship Dr. Chase completed an 18 month Fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology through the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medical College of Virginia. Prior to coming to Radford University in 1988 Dr. Chase worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond Virginia providing neuropsychological services, counseling, and behavior management for primarily a neurologically impaired population. His primary interests are in child psychopathology and group counseling.

Program courses taught: Techniques in Counseling and Psychotherapy, Group Dynamics in Processing and Counseling, Professional Internship Supervision

Dr. Ann Elliott completed her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology of children and adolescents at Boston College in 1985 and her doctoral work in clinical psychology at Northern Illinois University in 1990. She completed her clinical internship at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has had experience working in a variety of mental health settings including a medical university, a family service agency, two university counseling centers, a state hospital, a crisis intervention center and a private psychiatric hospital. Her interests include training master’s level counselors and issues related to child sexual abuse, poly-victimization, and PTSD. Dr. Elliott currently serves on the Editorial Board for Child Maltreatment.

Program courses taught: Psychopathology and Diagnosis, Child and Adult Sexual Assault, Professional Internship Supervision.

Dr. Sarah Hastings received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas in 1999. She completed her internship at Kansas State University Counseling Services. In addition she earned a master’s degree in Counseling from James Madison University (CACREP accredited) and an Ed.S. in Counselor Education from the University of Virginia (CACREP accredited). Dr. Hastings joined the faculty at Radford in the Fall of 2006. Prior to this she directed the Counseling Center at Baker University and practiced in a rural mental health center in southeast Kansas. Her current research projects include rural mental health counseling practice and the role of self-compassion in body image.

Program courses taught: Professional Orientation and Function in Mental Health Counseling, Personality Assessment.

Dr. Ruth Riding-Malon earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2008.  She completed her internship at Kentucky River Community Care and Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital in Hazard, Kentucky.  She joined the Radford faculty in the Fall of 2008. Prior to coming to Radford, she worked in a community mental health clinic in central Kentucky and served one year as assistant to the clinic director. She participated in research projects on AIDS prevention in high schools, and on rape prevention on college campuses; she trained staff and student leaders on effective sexual assault response, and worked with pre-service teachers to increase awareness of multicultural issues. Dr. Riding-Malon is interested in rural mental health counseling, spirituality, women’s issues, trauma treatment, and in working with disenfranchised populations. Her current research interests lie in studying issues particular to populations in rural areas, investigating the effectiveness of multicultural training, evaluating trauma treatments, and examining the impact of spirituality in the lives of clients.

Program courses taught: Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy

Dr. Valerie S. Leake received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2006 specializing in couples and family therapy and adolescent counseling. She has provided psychological services including counseling, supervision, and assessment for 9 years in Kentucky and Virginia, and has been a licensed clinical psychologist in Virginia since 2008. She has experience counseling children, adolescents, adults, and older adults in individual, group, couple, and family modalities as well as in in-patient, out-patient, community mental health, and school-based programs.

Program courses taught: Lifespan Development, Couples and Family Systems Therapy

Dr. Tracy Cohn received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in human sexuality from the University of Kansas in 2007.   He completed his internship at Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Administration Medical Center, Leavenworth, Kansas.  He joined the Radford faculty in the Fall of 2007. Prior to coming to Radford, he worked as a researcher on a grant funded by the Department of Labor, which sought to examine the job-seeking and job-maintenance strategies of individuals with disabilities. His current research is in the areas of human sexuality, the impact of behavior on public policy, and conflict in close relationships.  He is a licensed psychologist in Virginia and has a private practice in Dublin, VA. He enjoys seeing clients and couples regarding issues related to substance abuse, trauma, and sexual identity. 

Program courses taught: Mental Health Counseling Practicum I 

Dr. Robert W. Hiltonsmith, Professor of Psychology, received his Ph.D. from the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1980. He served as President of the Virginia Psychological Association (VPA) in 2009, and is currently Immediate Past-President of the organization.  VPA is an academy-based state organization for clinical, school, academic, and applied psychologists working in Virginia.  Dr. Hiltonsmith has been on the faculty of Radford University since 1990. He is a member of the department’s school psychology training program, and teaches graduate courses in introduction to school psychological services and in intellectual assessment. 

Program courses taught: Cognitive Intellectual Assessment Techniques

Dr. Tom Mullis, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT, NCC is a Board approved supervisor for professional counselors in Virginia. He holds a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Utah. At Radford University in 1978, he developed one of the first master’s programs for professional counselors. He has been in private practice as a LPC for 30 years and directed the graduate program in counseling at Radford University for over 30 years. He retired from the university in 2008.

Program courses taught prior to retirement in 2008: Professional Orientation and Function in Mental Health Counseling, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy

Faculty who teach research courses

Dr. Thomas W. Pierce received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from McGill University and his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Maine. After completing his graduate work he pursued further training in gerontology as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Pierce has been on the faculty at Radford since 1992 and conducts research on reminiscence and autobiographical memory in healthy older adults and persons with dementia. He currently serves as the President of the International Institute on Reminiscence and Life Review.

Program courses taught: Analysis of Behavioral Data

Dr. Jenessa C. Steele received her Ph.D. in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University in 2004 specializing in adulthood and aging. She joined the Department of Psychology at Radford University in 2005. Dr. Steele has two main lines of research interests in aging. Her first line of research involves investigating mental and physical health factors that contribute to successful aging (e.g., exercise, physical activity, positive emotions, etc.). Her second line of research investigates physical, social, and emotional factors that might promote or compromise healthy aging among special populations (e.g., disability, rural aging, HIV/AIDS, and Alzheimer’s disease).

Program courses taught: Methodology and Program Evaluation in Psychology;Human Growth and Lifespan Development

Dr. Pamela Jackson earned her Ph.D. in Behavioral and Neural Studies from the University of Kentucky in 1989.  During that period she worked as a research assistant at the National Institute of Drug Abuse studying the effects of cocaine, fencamfamine, and nicotine in dogs and rats.  Dr. Jackson completed a 4-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Utah studying the neurobiology of learning and memory in rats and came to Radford University in 1993.  Her current research interests focus on the long-term effects of chronic exposure to cannabinoid drugs in adolescent rats.

Program courses taught: Introduction to Psychopharmacological Mediations

Jeff Willner earned his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Originally trained as an experimental psychologist, he undertook postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the University of Virginia, and has taught and conducted research at the University of California, Irvine, the University of Arizona, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since coming to Radford in 1994, his work has focused on brain plasticity and on understanding how the brain is changed by experience. Dr. Willner is the coordinator for the RU Psychology Club, and was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Advising Award in 2008. He is the parent of a child with special needs and serves on the board of directors of a local Down Syndrome support and education group.

Program courses taught: Biological Foundations of Behavior

Dr. Jeff Aspelmeier completed his master’s degree & Ph.D in Experimental Psychology specializing in Social Psychology at Kent State University in 1997 and 1999, respectively. His interests include training master’s level counselors, experimental psychologists, and I/O psychologists and issues related to attachment and childhood victimization. Dr. Aspelmeier currently serves on the Editorial Board for Personal Relationships and has been a guest reviewer for Child Abuse & Neglect.

Program courses taught: Graduate Research Methods & Program Evaluation.

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