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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater


The faculty in the Mental Health Counseling Program are solely responsible for teaching courses in the degree program.

Janet Hicks, Ph.D., L.P.C., C.S.C.
Program Director
Professor of Mental Health Counseling

Janet Hicks is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified School counselor who received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi. She has researched and written extensively on child and adolescent counseling including such topics as cyber-bullying, social aggression, self-injury, substance use and abuse, and academic achievement in the school setting. Dr. Hicks’s previous experience working in the school system inspires her to conduct research that makes a positive impact on the mental health and academic success of youth while also offering practical programs for school and community counselors.

Her work has appeared in journals such as "Professional School Counseling", "Journal of Creativity in Mental Health", "Middle School Journal", "Journal of School Counseling", and "VISTAS", among others. In addition, her work has been found published on the American School Counselors Association website as Best Practices, has been demonstrated in invited presentations at the American Counseling Association Conference & Expo as well as in "Counseling Today" articles. Her work has been republished into book format numerous times and has helped various institutions all over the world after they adopted her programs for practical use.

She serves as an expert media spokesperson for the American Counseling Association on issues related to bullying and aggression. Her specialties include child and adolescent counseling, stress management for teachers and administrators, as well as the integration of solution focused brief therapy into both the counseling and teaching setting. Prior to attaining a professorship, Dr. Hicks worked for many years as a school counselor, teacher, and clinical mental health counselor.

Tom Knowles-Bagwell, D.Min., L.C.P.T., C.S.A.T.
Associate Program Director
Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology & Counseling

Tom is a graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School with both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. He is licensed as a Clinical Pastoral Therapist in Tennessee and is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In addition, Tom is certified as a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and is a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.

Tom has served as pastor of two congregations, supervisor of a shelter for the homeless and psychiatric hospital chaplain. He was the founding Director of the Carolina Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training. Tom has been engaged in clinical practice for over 29 years. He is experienced in working with individuals, couples, families and groups with ages ranging from adolescent to senior adult. Tom has served on the adjunct faculty of the College of Theology & Christian Ministry since 1998. He has taught both general education courses such as Understanding the Bible and Spirituality in World Religions as well as upper level courses in pastoral care and psychology of religion for students majoring in ministry studies. His research and teaching interests are in pastoral theological method (or how to interpret human life situations through a theological lens), as well as understanding the nature of psychopathology and human suffering.


Mary Mayorga, PhD., L.P.C., N.C.C., C.A.R.T., C.C.D.S.
Clinical Coordinator
Associate Professor of Mental Health Counseling

Mary Mayorga has been a counselor educator for 13 years and has had over 20 years of experience in the counseling world. She has worked with adolescents and couples as well as those dealing with domestic violence and addictions using mediation and conflict resolution therapy.

I consider myself a “passionate” counselor educator and realize that my responsibility is to help students learn how to empower themselves and to embrace their own diversity and the diversity of others as they grow into competent counselors. As counselors we are to demonstrate our compassion toward others, and help them to develop the courage to step out into the world with an ability to be grounded in faith and critical thinking. To do this I role model for my students all of these characteristics and live my life in this manner as I strive to continue my own personal growth, both as a human being and as a counselor educator. My “passionate” also leads me to continuously strive to be an example of what it means to teach and to service in the capacity as a helping professional. I hope that I inspire in my students an “inquiring mind” that will propel them forward to be ethical, and have honor. It is a “tough” road to walk, but necessary to live a life of integrity both as a human being and as a compassionate “professional in the world of counseling.”


Layla Bonner, PhD., M.Ed., L.M.F.T.
Assistant Professor of Mental Health Counseling

Dr. Layla Bonner graduated with her Ph.D. in Clinical Counseling, Teaching, & Supervision from the CACREP accredited doctoral program at Trevecca University in 2018. She is a licensed Marital and Family Therapist in Tennessee and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She identifies with the profession through memberships in the American Counseling Association and Association for Counselor Education & Supervision. She presented at the Southern Association for Counselor Educators and Supervisors Conference in 2016 and, as a new doctoral graduate and faculty member, is currently writing and submitting additional counseling-related presentation proposals and articles.