Dr. Portia Rawles

Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity

Dr. Portia Rawles is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Rawles received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and doctorate from Regent University. Dr. Rawles is a Faculty member at Saybrook University in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. She currently serves as the faculty lead for the Complex Trauma and Healing Processes Specialization and is a member of the Faculty Senate. Prior to joining Saybrook University, Dr. Rawles served for 4 years as Assistant Professor at South University in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s program and Psychology department. Dr. Rawles also served as an online Adjunct Professor for Yorkville University, which is located in Fredericton, NB Canada. Dr. Rawles also previously served for five years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program at Regent University. Dr. Rawles’ instructional responsibilities have included: Multicultural Psychology, Research Method, the Psychology of Trauma and Crisis, Internship, Psychopathology and Addictions, just to name a few of the courses.


Dr. Rawles’ clinical efforts include being the founder of Rawles & Associates, PLC, and Covenant Place. Rawles & Associates, PLC is a mental health organization committed to providing quality, clinical, consulting, training, and presentation services. The clinical focus of Rawles & Associates, PLC is meeting the needs of vulnerable populations experiencing trauma related mental health disorders. Dr. Rawles currently works with various municipal, county, and private community mental health agencies in Virginia and North Carolina, providing trauma informed mental health services. Some previous clinical highlights include the establishment of Covenant Place. Covenant Place was a faith-based therapeutic group home for adolescent girls that have been sexually and/or physically abused. The group home was established in 2006 and continued operating until 2009. Dr. Rawles’ professional credentials and expertise include: License Psychologist (Virginia and North Carolina), Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Critical Incident Stress Debriefer, Forensic Evaluation of Sexually Abused Youth, EMDR – Level One and Level Two, Competency to Stand Trial Evaluations, Parenting Capacity Evaluations, Expert Witness in Traumatic Stress – Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, Expert Witness in Traumatic Stress among children & Adolescents – Virginia Circuit Courts, Certified Forensic Consultant and ASPPB Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology (CPQ). Dr. Rawles was also the first Mental Health Officer for Virginia DMAT2 (Disaster Medical Assistance Team). DMATs are federal response teams consisting of a group of professional and para-professional medical personnel (supported by a cadre of logistical and administrative staff) designed to provide medical care during a disaster or other event. DMAT teams are a part of the National Disaster Medical System and operate under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).


Dr. Rawles’ scholarly area of interest include: the use of human security as a framework to quantify social justice and civil right challenges of vulnerable populations, in U.S., in order to improve community development and public policy efforts; and trauma informed interventions and trauma related mental health disorders among public safety personnel and vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad is a trauma informed perspective regarding the various societal and behavioral health challenges of vulnerable populations. Dr. Rawles’ scholarly endeavors involve utilizing the theory of human security to conceptualize the challenges of vulnerable populations in the United States. The article titled Rethinking the Plight of American Urban Areas as a Human Security Challenge was recently published in the Community Development Journal; a journal of Oxford University Press. Dr. Rawles presented this paper at the 45th Annual Conference of the Urban Affairs Association in 2015. Other scholarly endeavors include Dr. Rawles’ invitation to present at the Oxford Roundtable at Oxford University in England. The title of her paper was The Link between Poverty, the Proliferation of Violence, and the Development of Traumatic Stress among Urban Youth in the United States to School Violence: A Trauma Informed, Social Justice Approach to School Violence. The paper was also published in the Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Roundtable. This was Dr. Rawles’ second invitation to Oxford. Dr. Rawles first invitation to Oxford was in 2006. The titled of the paper she presented was The Role of Prejudice in the Lack of Effective Response by Western Governments to Refugees in Developing Countries: A Threat to Achieving Human and Global Security. The paper was also published in the Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Roundtable as well as being listed on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office website.


Dr. Rawles most recent literary endeavor is Sisters In the Fire: The FIRST African American Women Firefighters. This book tells the untold stories of these extraordinary women whose bravery broke barriers and changed the landscape of the United States Fire Service.” This book is more than merely a historical recount. It describes on a very personal and intimate level their lived experiences as firefighters, mothers, wives, and daughters.


Regarding her consultation endeavors, Dr. Rawles specializes in consulting, training, and presentation services in the areas of diversity and mental health to Fire Service, EMS, Law Enforcement, Human Service, Community Mental Health, and Faith-based agencies. Services are provided in the areas of human relations, cultural diversity, interpersonal communication, trauma, stress management, team building, verbal de-escalation, and conflict resolution. Dr. Rawles is presently serving on the Virginia Department of Fire Programs’ Mental Health in the Fire Service Work Group. Additionally, Dr. Rawles has served as a consulting psychologist with T.R.A.I.T. consulting where she specialized in providing a variety of mental health services to juvenile justice and law enforcement agencies. Responsibilities involved: program evaluation, program design, program implementation and curriculum development. Also, Dr. Rawles has been a presenter at various fire service conferences and served as a columnist for Fire Chief Magazine. She was responsible for writing on mental health and human resource issues and their relevancy to the fire service. Regarding research efforts, Dr. Rawles’ most significant research involved examining rates of prejudice among Navy/Marine Corps personnel. This study differs from present empirical research because it entails a characterlogical analysis of prejudice among enlisted personnel and officers.


Prior to becoming a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Rawles served 13 years with Norfolk Fire and Paramedical Services, now Norfolk Fire and Rescue. Norfolk Fire & Rescue is the third oldest professional fire department in the country. She retired as a Captain being the first African-American woman to reach this rank as well as the rank of Lieutenant in the department. Additionally, Dr. Rawles was the first African American woman to act in the capacity of Battalion Chief. Also, Dr. Rawles served as EEO officer for the department. Some additional career highlights include co-developing and coordinating the International Exchange Program between Norfolk Fire and Paramedical Services and the Belize National Fire Service, serving as Chairperson of the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Council of the Virginia Fire Services Board, serving at the Vice-President of the Norfolk chapter of the National Association of Black Professional Firefighters. Additionally, Dr. Rawles was instrumental in establishing various community outreach programs during her time in the fire service.


The majority of Dr. Rawles’ clinical experience involves working with vulnerable populations, ethnic minorities, vulnerable youth in residential facilities, incarcerated adults, and developmentally disabled individuals. Dr. Rawles’ experience in the fire service combined with her clinical experience is responsible for her research, consultation, and clinical interest.









Dr. Portia Rawles