Veterans Day Gratitudes and Reflections

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

November 10, 2017 at 10:28 AM

bigstock--184314940.jpgWith so much going on in the world, it helps me to make space for intentional moments of gratitude. As we close in on Veterans Day 2017, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served, my gratitude for them and their families, and the inspiration they have given us here at TDC to do more over the past year to honor and support veterans.

First, we decided to revamp our scholarship program to focus on veterans working toward their MSW degrees. The applications that came in were staggering: the stories of service and sacrifice were inspiring and it was humbling to choose the winners. The five social workers who won: Fernando Chavarria, Jonathan Gill, Kelli Hartzenbeuhler, Kevin Rumley, and Shayne Wiggins all embody the future of our profession. Each of them have thrived through their individual challenges and have committed themselves to careers in which they continue to serve others. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings to each of them as they graduate and enter the workforce.

Then, we decided to change how we offered exam prep services to veterans.

I have a crystal clear memory of that moment: Amanda and I were hiking together during a team retreat and I was following her on the trail. I said something about the Veterans Service Scholarship we had in the works at that time and she said, without hesitation, “We should be giving the study materials to vets for free. Let’s just do it.” I agreed wholeheartedly, and we continued on our hike. It instantly felt, and continues to feel, like the right thing to do.

As of today, TDC has provided exam preparation materials and coaching services to nearly 80 veterans and active duty military personnel- and there are at least a few more in my inbox that will be good to go today!

The gratitude I experience around this is circular: I feel grateful to these individuals for the sacrifices they (and their families) have made for our country, I feel grateful to work for a company in a position to provide this kind of support, and I get to feel their gratitude as they receive something that may offer them a small piece of relief and support as they continue in their professional development.

Finally, TDC went through the process of becoming a recognized vendor with the Veterans Administration. As the employer of over 12,000 social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional clinical counselors, the VA is huge provider of mental health services and support to our country’s veterans. The process was tedious, but again, just felt like the right thing to do. While this doesn’t change much on our end, it does make it easier for the VA to purchase our materials on behalf of its employees.

We can’t even begin to express our appreciation to all of our troops, whether or not they are social workers, on this Veterans Day 2017. TDC salutes you!

Do you know a veteran or active duty service member who is studying for their licensure exam? If so, please have them contact me directly:


Topics: Exam Prep, Social Justice

Veterans Service Scholarship Winners

Posted by Heidi Tobe

August 18, 2017 at 2:07 PM

On Monday we announced our five winners for Therapist Development Center's 2017 Veterans Service Scholarship. Today, we share a bit of each of their stories. We hope you are as inspired by each of them as we are!

Fernando Chavarria

Michigan State University

After receiving his undergraduate degree in communications, Fernando Chavarria had no plans to pursue education in a different field. It wasn't until Mr. Chavarria was offered a career as a Peer Specialist that he began considering the social work profession. On a daily basis, Mr. Chavarria collaborated with clinicians and it was during this time that he discovered that the field of social work was one comprised of complex communication, relationship building, and collaborative efforts-something not so far off from his original field of communication.

During his time in the military, Mr. Chavarria saw what it looked like to push his mind and body to new limits, increased his confidence and determination, and learned that "impossible is just the body operating without the mind." Mr. Chavarria worked on the short-term inpatient medical floor of the VA Hospital for his first-year internship, assisting with discharge planning and high risk screenings. This experience provided him greater insight into the types of support and interventions provided through the field of social work. Mr. Chavarria has an innate desire to help his fellow comrades and wants to do everything he can to help fellow veterans stay alive in both mind and body when they return home. He plans to become a clinical social worker with the VA upon graduation and to move into positions of leadership that will allow him to advocate for organizational changes that will lead to more effective delivery of recovery-oriented care.

Dr. Brady is a psychologist at the agency where Mr. Chavarria is a Peer Support Specialist. Dr. Brady was so impressed by his clinical skills that she has had him assist in sessions with veterans. She describes Mr. Chavarria as "extraordinary in his authentic depth, ability to connect with others, and ability to convey understanding and accurate empathy” and goes on to state that she has “never seen anyone better.” Dr. Brady has seen Mr. Chavarria “able to offer even difficult feedback in a way which meets with acceptance. He has this essential clinical skill honed, yet keeps striving to encompass more of the human experience." Mr. Chavarria is someone Dr. Brady states has a great deal of life experience and wisdom and is able to use these to lead humbly and authentically. She expects that Mr. Chavarria's clinical social work career will "deeply touch many lives, and help bring about advances.


Jonathan Gill

The Ohio State University

As a United States Marine Corps service member who decided to 'come out' after witnessing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Jonathan Gill discovered a community of hidden LGBT service members who created their own support networks due to the stigma of reaching out for help. He encountered many individuals who silently struggled with issues of substance use and mental health issues, failing to get the services they needed. It was during that time that he learned about his own identity, what trauma is like, and how one needs to seek healing once they are removed from the trauma.

During his first-year internship, Mr. Gill met veterans and non-veterans experiencing chronic homelessness. He witnessed and heard stories of trauma and chronic homelessness that he was surprised to find were in his own back yard. Mr. Gill is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Social Work at The Ohio State University, with an internship at the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Gill’s goal is to work with veterans as a clinical social worker for the VA to address the needs of those transitioning into the civilian world, with an emphasis on homeless reduction, vocational rehab, trauma-informed care, and substance use disorders after graduation. Mr. Gill is interested in using his shared identity as a veteran to build strong therapeutic alliances in his clinical work.

Anna Stewart is one of Mr. Gill’s instructors at The Ohio State University and has worked with Mr. Gill over the last year in three very unique settings, which include a student run free health clinic, a field seminar course, and overseeing his field placement experience. Ms. Stewart describes Mr. Gill as "one of the most motivated students I have ever worked with" and someone who is "humble in his approach to his work and education.” She goes on to share that “he asks for help when needed and never assumes he knows it all. His humble nature allows him to quickly build rapport with patients/clients allowing them to feel at ease." She describes his involvement and commitment to the service of others through his time in the Marine Corps and other campus and community volunteer activities as "commendable" and shares that Mr. Gill is someone who is already "an agent of change for vulnerable and oppressed populations” and that she "can't wait to see where his career takes him.


Kelli Hatzenbuehler

University of Nebraska Omaha

Kelli Hatzenbuehler has worked for the United States army for 20 years. Through both her and her husband’s military service, Ms. Hatzenbuehler has learned first-hand about the sacrifices service members make, including being away from their children and spouses for extended periods of time. Through her service, Ms. Hatzenbuehler has developed a great deal of empathy that she will take with her into her career as a clinical social worker.

Ms. Hatzenbuehler recognizes that there is often a language barrier between veterans/service members and the civilian population and believes she is able to understand that language and the unique problems that veterans face. Ms. Hatzenbuehler was first deployed in 2003. During her first year of deployment, she lost three members of her unit. In the thirteen years that this unit has been home, 3 additional members were lost to suicide. Ms. Hatzenbuehler wants to assist service members and veterans when they are feeling hopeless and hopes to do so by working at the VA or a similar entity as a clinical social worker. 

William Buettner has worked with Ms. Hatzenbuehler for over 5 years in the Resilience and Suicide Prevention Office of the Nebraska National Guard and has served in the same units with her on occasion for the past 10 years. Mr. Buettner describes her as someone who "uses her empathy to relate to people in crises and or distress...her empathy helps make the persons at risk talk more freely." He describes Ms. Hatzenbuehler as a person of integrity who "takes the ethical road and helps others along that path." He shares that Ms. Hatzenbuehler is "an expert in her field and looked at by her peers as a subject matter expert” and is someone who continually strives to become better at her duties, consistently rising to the top.


Kevin Rumley

Western Carolina University

As a United States Marine Corps combat wounded veteran who has undergone 32 surgeries, Kevin Rumley is someone who has witnessed first-hand the devastation and chaos of war. Mr. Rumley received world class psychotherapeutic and physiological rehabilitative care, including services from clinical social workers at the Walter Reed Medical Center. This along with his early maternal introduction to serving others were catalysts for his passion to become a clinical social worker. It was through his military service that Mr. Rumley's belief in the critical importance of building relationships and active-listening were solidified. He learned that “only through listening can we begin to understand.” Mr. Rumley describes himself as “a veteran for peace” and strongly believes that clinical social workers have the capacity to change lives. He is passionate about recovery, resiliency, and fighting for social justice and is someone who strives to be a positive agent of change within his community.

During his first-year internship serving at the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court, he found that non-punitive treatment-based programs are effective modalities for reducing recidivism. He discovered the importance of self-care and boundaries in this difficult work. Mr. Rumley learned that it is through open dialogue and ongoing advocacy that change can occur and that to be the most effective clinician possible, he must remain open and receptive to his environment. Mr. Rumley has worked at NC Brookhaven Behavioral Health, a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, for the last five years on the ACT Team (assertive community treatment). He plans to become an LCSW, LCAS, and EMDR practitioner, promoting change on an interpersonal level through EMDR and on a policy level with the goal of instituting harm reduction clinics in rural parts of Western North Carolina. Mr. Rumley additionally hopes to pursue his DSW in the future.

Susanne J. Loar served as Mr. Rumley’s supervisor for the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board for the past two years. Ms. Loar shared that Mr. Rumley is dedicated to assisting people-especially veterans-in their recovery from substance use and mental health disorders. She describes him as "an advocate for veterans living in the community." Ms. Loar reports that Mr. Rumley has been unofficially running the team while he pursues his graduate degree and shares that his "innate intelligence, ethical integrity and vast experience have added value to the individuals and to the wider community.” She describes Mr. Rumley as "a great advocate for people on medication assisted programs” and that he “brings empathy and expertise in the field." Further, Mr. Rumley “has been instrumental in setting up and following veteran's through the veteran's court system" and has been a "driving force in the local and state judicial system." Ms. Loar states that Mr. Rumley is "a tremendous addition to the field of social work" and that she "cannot think of a person more deserving" of this scholarship.


Shayne Wiggins

Western New Mexico University

Shayne Wiggins was drawn to the field of clinical social work after returning from his deployment with the United States Marines. He had a difficult time finding a military social worker who was also a veteran. It was through this experience that Mr. Wiggins realized 1. there is shortage of master's level social workers who can provide services through a veteran's lens and 2. many veterans who have experienced combat trauma may feel more comfortable opening up to a professional who can relate to their military experiences.

Mr. Wiggin’s military experience taught him how to fight through adversity and serve with honor. During his deployment, he developed integrity, dedication, commitment, and honor to both his country and his shipmates. His first-year internship taught him that he is a culturally competent social worker in training and that becoming a competent social worker takes commitment and dedication-two things that Mr. Wiggins has. Mr. Wiggins plans to practice clinical social work with veterans who have experienced combat trauma, homeless veterans living with substance use disorders, and veterans who are survivors of military sexual trauma and assault. He recognizes that these are underserved populations that deserve well-trained and competent clinicians that understand their trauma and can help them resolve and manage their traumatic experiences through empirical translational science.

According to Kendrick Lockett, who Mr. Wiggins met through his internship at the Atlanta Mission organization, Mr. Wiggins is someone who "has a gift for working with those who have been subjugated and marginalized within our society." Mr. Lockett stated that "our veteran services have improved significantly since his internship began here” and that “he has excelled in his internship above and beyond the agency's expectations." Mr. Lockett describes Mr. Wiggins as someone who "exemplifies strong attributes and abilities in becoming a clinical social worker.


We at the Therapist Development Center believe that more can and should be done by every civilian American to support our troops and veterans, so we are now offering our programs FREE for any veteran or active duty military, including each of our scholarship applicants. To learn more about how to obtain this offer, click HERE. To learn more about our social work exam preparation programs, click HERE.

Haven't signed up for an exam prep program yet? Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep will provide you with exactly what you need to pass your social work exam or MFT exam and nothing you don’t. You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep HERE and more about our MFT licensing exam prep HERE. If you’d like to connect directly with one of our coaches, you can do that HERE.

We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence!


Topics: Exam Prep, Social Justice, Social Work Exam Prep, Professional Development

2017 Veterans Service Scholarship Winners

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

August 16, 2017 at 1:47 PM

Congratulations to the 5 winners of the 2017 Veterans Service Scholarship:

1. Fernando Chavarria of Michigan

2. Jonathan Gill of Ohio

3. Kelli Hatzenbuehler of Nebraska

4. Kevin Rumley of North Carolina

5. Shayne Wiggins of New Mexico

We would like to thank everyone who participated in our 1st annual Veterans Service Scholarship for 2nd year MSW students. We had more than 50 applicants from 21 states and 29 schools! Our entire scholarship committee was impressed by the service and quality of our applicants and it was extremely difficult to select our winners. We are inspired by each of your stories and hopeful for the positive impact you will have on this field and the world. Stay tuned for a piece featuring each of our scholarship winners.

We at the Therapist Development Center believe that more can and should be done by every civilian American to support our troops and veterans, so we are now offering our programs FREE for any veteran or active duty military, including each of our scholarship applicants. To learn more about how to obtain this offer, click HERE. To learn more about our social work exam preparation programs, click HERE.

On behalf of the Therapist Development Center team, we wish you the best in your careers as clinical social workers and we know the world will be a better place with your contributions to the field.


Bethany Vanderbilt, LCSW

Executive Director



Topics: Exam Prep, Social Justice, LCSW Exam Prep, Social Work Exam Prep

Social Justice Spotlight: Navy League of Santa Barbara

Posted by Heidi Tobe

August 4, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Earlier this year, we announced a new social justice coupon code initiative in which we identified several social justice organizations who are “fighting the good fight.” When you choose one of these organizations and enter their coupon code at checkout, you get $15 off the cost of a program and we donate $15 to that organization. You save and we give! Last month, we shared about Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County, and today we are eager to tell you about the Navy League of Santa Barbara!

About the Navy League of Santa Barbara

navy league of santa barbara-1.jpg

The Navy league is a morale-enhancing civilian organization that has dedicated itself to providing ongoing support to service members and their families of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and U.S. Flag Merchant. It is comprised of 65,000 civilian volunteers worldwide who have been providing recognition, moral and family support for over 100 years to service members and their families. The Santa Barbara charter was established in 1956. Since that time, thousands of volunteers have put in tens of thousands of hours of service towards those who have served our country.

Services Provided

The Navy League of Santa Barbara has a wide variety of programs serving military service members, their families, and the local community. Some of their services include: a family emergency fund that provides for day-to-day family emergencies that arise; higher education scholarships for continuing college education for service members, their spouses and families; sending postcards to active duty men and women; youth outreach and education, including character development and leadership training; ongoing financial and moral support for the families who have lost a loved one in action; award items for recognitions of jobs well done; and stocking libraries of adopted ships and submarines. The Navy League of Santa Barbara sponsors local ships and ship visits in Santa Barbara. Through this sponsorship, visiting crews are provided with activities while they are in port. Locally, they have adopted the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cutter BLACKFIN, the local Marine Safety Detachment, and the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) which is America's newest aircraft carrier.

Join the Fight

The Navy League of Santa Barbara is no doubt fighting the good fight and we are honored to come alongside them financially.  We hope you will check out their website to learn more about how you can get involved (you do not need to have served in the military in order to become a member of the Navy League!).

And if you haven’t already signed up for one of our Social Work or Marriage and Family Therapy test prep programs, sign up today and use coupon code “HonorOurMilitary” to save $15 off the cost of a program! For every code used, TDC will donate $15 to the Navy League of Santa Barbara. You save, we give! Are you a veteran or current member of the military yourself? If so, find out how to get one of our programs for free!


Topics: Social Justice

Social Justice Spotlight: Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County

Posted by Heidi Tobe

July 17, 2017 at 12:00 AM

When Amanda Rowan posted our new Social Justice Coupon Codes blog, we encouraged you to let us know of nonprofits who are fighting the good fight to be added to our coupon code list. We would like to thank Kiertsen Hess for being the first one to do so! Kiersten reached out to let us know about an organization she volunteers with: Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County (DVS). We were excited to learn more about them, add them to our list, and to make them our first Social Justice Spotlight Organization!



About Domestic Violence Solutions

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Nearly 20 people per minute-or over 10 million people per year- are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Studies found victims of domestic violence experience higher rates of depression and suicidal behavior (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2015).

DVS is Santa Barbara County’s only full-service domestic violence agency. DVS is committed to ending the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence through their services and through challenging the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors regarding domestic violence in order to impact social change. Their vision is for all people to “take personal responsibility in promoting zero tolerance for domestic violence within their interpersonal relationships, families, and in the community at large.” They want to see respect and equality replace domestic violence and for individuals who have been impacted by domestic violence to have dignity and hope restored, empowering them "to maximize the potential of their lives.”

Services Provided

DVS has four 24-hour hotlines available, answering over 4,000 crisis calls a year. They provide a 24-hour shelter for battered women and their children as well as a transitional housing program for survivors of domestic violence, with comprehensive residential counseling services provided. They offer emotional support and personal advocacy for women experiencing domestic violence, doing so in a way that helps each woman know and understand her personal strengths and resources and that empowers her to make her own decisions.

DVS is a member of the Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team (DVERT), with DVS staff joining law enforcement to respond to domestic violence 911 calls. Through DVERT, they offer support and advocacy as well as access to shelter for women experiencing domestic violence. Through DVERT, DVS staff provide crisis counseling or a referral for ongoing counseling.

DVS's "Holiday Happiness For All" programs recognize that domestic violence does not stop during the holidays (in fact, they often see an increase in new residents at the holidays). Their holiday programs make giving easy and aim to make certain that all families at their shelters experience some happiness and joy throughout the holiday season.

Prevention and intervention services are provided to the community, including teen outreach and education programs. Men Against Domestic Violence (MADV) works to educate and inspire all men to take a personal and public stand for equality in their relationships, with an overall focus on preventing intimate partner violence. They take a leadership role in effecting social change in the community through education as well as support of women's rights organizations and associations with social change groups.

DVS also offers a 40-Hour Domestic Violence Training Certification for therapists, medical personnel and professionals in social services agencies, law enforcement personnel, volunteers, and friends and family of domestic violence victims.

Join the Fight

DVS is no doubt fighting the good fight, powerfully affecting social change in Santa Barbara County. We are honored to come alongside them financially and hope you will check out their website to learn more about DVS and discover ways you can personally get involved.

And if you haven’t already signed up for one of our Social Work or Marriage and Family Therapy test prep programs, sign up today and use coupon code “DomesticViolenceSolutions” to save $15 off the cost of a program! For every code used, TDC will donate $15 to Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County. You save, we give!


NCADV. (2015). Domestic violence national statistics. Retrieved from




Topics: Social Justice

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