the Founder of EMERGE: 

Richard Dobbins, PhD


Dr. Dobbins was born on November 16, 1927, in Akron, Ohio, along with two sisters: Fern (now deceased) and Ruby (who still lives in the Akron area).  Dr. Dobbins married Dolores in 1945.  Their marriage was blessed by three children: Bill, Ilene, and Sharon.  The Dobbins family has grown to include five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.  Following Dolores’ death, Dr. Dobbins married Priscilla, to whom he was married for 20 years.

After founding and pastoring a vibrant church, Evangel Temple in Akron, Ohio, Dr. Dobbins, in the midst of personal pain, sensed the call of God to mental health ministry.  After graduating with a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Akron, “Doc” founded EMERGE Ministries.  Dr. Dobbins was a brilliant student, educator, and mental health visionary.  He received national acclaim as one of the founding fathers of Christian psychology.

For more than 50 years, God gave Dr. Dobbins “the wisdom and strength to counsel with thousands of hurting and confused people, and help them discover Biblical truths to deepen the Lord’s peace and joy in their lives” (from Dr. Dobbins’ website:

Dr. Dobbins had the unique ability to integrate Biblical truths with sound psychological principles in order to help hurting individuals find hope and healing in the midst of painful and difficult personal and family circumstances.  One of those individuals, Reverend Jack Strom, wrote this:  “’Doc’ partnered with my wife, Barb, and me in a journey of healing and restoration almost twenty-five years ago.  It was much more than a moment… he helped me develop an on-going life attitude and action that still results in our experiencing marriage and family with joy and fulfillment.”

“Doc” had been a friend, counselor, pastor, and mentor to scores of thousands of people, just like Jack and Barb Strom.  While we will miss him dearly, we are grateful that His life and legacy live on through the thousands of individuals he has trained, and through the ministry he founded in Akron, Ohio - EMERGE Counseling Services.  What began with one man, a vision, and a grace-filled God, is now a far-reaching mental health ministry, with twenty-nine Christ-honoring clinicians ministering hope and healing to over 350 people each week!  Over the forty years of EMERGE’s existence in Akron more than 200,000 individuals and families have been served through the caring counseling of Dr. Dobbins and the many psychologists and counselors who have followed him.

In the early morning hours of June 3, 2014, “Doc,” as he was called, left his home in Naples, Florida, to permanently reside in his heavenly home.  He died in his sleep.  He had not been ill.

The Beginning

EMERGE was founded in 1972 by Richard Dobbins, PhD.  

  • 1973   EMERGE moved out of Evangel Temple and into the Bryden Building in Akron, OH
  • 1987   The current location on Mull Ave. in Akron, OH began to serve as EMERGE main headquarters.  
  • 1990   Expansion began on the Mull Ave. building to accommodate a new Children's Center.
  • 1995   Expansion began on the Mull Ave. building to accommodate a new Learning Center.
  • 2016   Learning Center remodeling and change of its name to Center of Professional Development.

Presidents of EMERGE

Dr. Richard D. Dobbins

Clayton Glickert

Wayne Benson

John M. Palmer

Dr. Robert Crosby