Meet the Staff
Ian C. Edwards, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Student Wellbeing & Director of Counseling and Wellbeing Center
I approach counseling from a predominantly integrative perspective, which means that I rely upon a wide range of theories and therapies (psychological, philosophical, scientific, and spiritual) to inform my work with students. I treat sadness, depression, worry and anxiety as well as other typically afflictive emotions (anger, jealousy, fear, etc.) by helping students come to the awareness that their experiences of such emotions are meaningful (in that they say something powerful about aspects of the self that need attention, compassion, and care), purposeful, and can be worked through and successfully regulated within the context of a healing therapeutic relationship. I am interested in helping students realize that they have the ability to experience and respond to thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, as well as events in ways that facilitate psychological growth and even neurological change. And, I greatly value helping students recognize their strengths, develop positive traits, cultivate optimism, and live meaningful lives that lead to happiness.
Thomas J. Smith, PhD
Assistant Director / Training Coordinator
My specialty and interest is in working with college students. I have completed my practicum training and my predoctoral/postdoctoral internship training at two other university counseling centers. I'm an integrative therapist, which means that I incorporate different psychological approaches based on my impression and knowledge about what works for whom. I draw heavily from the existential-phenomenological tradition. What phenomenology is about for me is honoring a student's experience and suffering over any preconceptions I may have about a student. For me, existentialism is about paying attention to the unique ways a student attempts to make his or her life meaningful. In this way, I am interested in the process of self-discovery and identity fulfillment, as well as the place religion and spirituality may (or may not) have in this process. I also draw heavily from the psychodynamic-psychoanalytic tradition. Through a psychodynamic-psychoanalytic lens, I take notice of the importance of current and past relationships with friends, partners, and family members in order to help a student gain more awareness of themselves and others. In addition to relationship issues, I believe that therapy is a space for a student to possibly talk with another person about his or her experiences of human suffering; be it anger, sadness, depressed moods, guilt, grief, shame, stress, worry, or anxiety. As an integrative therapist, I may address your difficulties from a variety of different perspectives; whether that is looking at what you're doing (behavioral), looking at what you're thinking (cognitive), or just good old fashioned problem solving. Regardless of the psychological traditions from which I draw, I think that therapy is about forming a unique sort of relationship with another person who is curious about you and wants to help you.
Laurie Kessler, PhD
Assistant Director / Groups Coordinator
I'm Laurie Kessler, a licensed psychologist. I am a generalist, meaning that I work with clients who are culturally diverse and with different background experiences, presenting issues, and symptoms. I approach my work with the awareness that many clients whom I see in the university setting are experiencing significant life adjustments and relational issues, and working to expand their self-concepts, or sense of "who they are." Also, many clients are facing environmental stressors and challenges (e.g., new responsibilities and expectations, "unknown" futures, prejudice/discrimination, culture shock), as well as some internal obstacles (e.g., low self-esteem, depression, anxiety). Some clients may also be working to overcome the impact of abusive or traumatic pasts or patterns of eating disordered behaviors. I am particularly interested in helping clients reprocess (e.g., grow, make new meaning from) their life experiences and narratives. In this way the past informs, but no longer dictates a person's present and future. In addition to helping clients learn new ways to manage and reduce distressing symptoms (from racing thoughts and lack of motivation to suicidal thoughts) I believe it is important to help clients explore what their symptoms are trying to tell them (e.g., what needs to change in their lives.) I find the process of helping clients to build resilience and self-confidence as they learn to cope with, tolerate, and eventually accept and transcend the less comfortable and often very painful aspects of their lives to be an extremely rewarding part of the therapeutic process.
Maria Clara Kreis, PhD
Assistant Director / Outreach Coordinator
My name is Maria Clara Kreis and I am fluent in English and German. I recognize how important individual and group therapy is for persons working through challenges and concerns. I specialize in depression, anxiety, career issues, grief/loss, spirituality, multicultural issues, women's issues, and issues of undergraduate/graduate students (including international students). As counseling psychologist, I am drawn to a strength-based perspective and I apply an integrative approach in the therapeutic work with clients. I use a client-centered approach and establish a collaborative therapeutic relationship based on trust, empathy, and acceptance. I also integrate cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) which has been supported by research to be an effective treatment approach for a variety of mental health problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy with its emphasis on collaboration, goals, and outcomes, includes a variety of strategies that help clients gain further insight into their problems. It also provides clients with a variety of skills and strategies that they can practice and apply outside of the counseling sessions. The use of these skills/strategies can also assist clients in reaching a satisfying resolution to their issues that is congruent with their personal and/or cultural values.
Matthew J. Walsh, PhD
Community Engagement Coordinator
My approach to counseling is based on an authentic encounter between the student and counselor. The hope of entering into an authentic encounter during the therapeutic process is that it will lead to a more authentic or substantive exploration of self-discovery and healing. I use an integrated approach in therapy, which draws from a variety of theoretical perspectives (i.e., psychological, spiritual, philosophical) and therapeutic techniques, as well as a recognition and respect of the inherent dignity that exists in every person. My belief is that the therapeutic encounter and relationship can provide an environment where creativity (potential for new ways of thinking and being) and spontaneity can exist within the context of having negative emotions, relational conflicts, low self-esteem, worry thoughts, fears and doubts, exploration of sexual orientation, identity issues, or a traumatic history. This recognition of one's potential to be creative and spontaneous can lead to being more open to the possible invitation that may exist from an experience, emotion, or anxiety making room for new insight, meaning-making, and ultimately healing and a more authentic you.
Ashley Bock, PsyD
My name is Ashley Bock and I am a generalist. This means I work with a wide diversity of individuals, presenting concern, presenting symptoms, and histories. Much of my previous doctoral practicum experience as well as my doctoral internship have been in multiple other university counseling center settings where I have enjoyed having the opportunity to work within university communities. I believe the foundation of a positive therapeutic experience begins with fostering a safe, supportive, non-judgmental space within the therapeutic relationship where the client can explore their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, fears, desires, hopes, etc. Being trained as a Counseling Psychologist, I focus on aspects of positive psychology and explore with clients their contributing strengths. My approach to counseling is integrative. I primarily base my work in psychodynamic theory, which means that I focus on understanding past and current relationships with others and how these relationships relate to how the client thinks/feels about themselves, others, and their world. Additionally, I utilize approaches/techniques from Mindfulness-based therapies, interpersonal therapy, and emotion-focused therapy. Ultimately, these approaches/technique are adjusted, shifted, and/or supplemented as needed to meet each individual client where they are at as we work collaboratively.
Jeff Creely, PhD
Although my therapeutic approach is appropriate for a wide diversity of student experiences and concerns, my areas of special interest are in sexuality, identity, and spirituality. I've worked in college counseling centers for 4 years. I've previously focused on developing relationships with on-campus LGBTQ communities and organizations to meet their unique needs. In individual therapy, my general focus is on openness, exploring values, fostering awareness, identifying patterns, and utilizing the transformative power of interpersonal relationships. I use a person-centered approach in therapy to help clients move toward being more congruent with their authentic self. I approach all experiences, whether that's joy, sadness, anxiety, anger, fear, or shame, as being meaningful and helpful in understanding new perspectives. Additionally, I integrate some concrete skills in my practice to help clients cope with their immediate distress. I look forward to getting to know each individual and I'm honored to be a part of every person's journey in whatever form that takes.
Shawn Francis-Coleman, M.S P.C
Mental Health Case Manager/Intake Coordinator
Being privileged to work in the college setting, I combine my passion and zeal for the improvement of humanity with my educational background in existentialism and phenomenology. My approach tends to be eclectic when needed, however, I usually function within from the existential approach and search for meaning in the dynamics of what is happening in the students life as well as what is occurring in the counseling room. Upon triage of a student, I use phenomenology and to turn symptoms into symbols, allowing the student and me to turn their stress into strength and problems into power. I also aim to help align the students physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental bodies towards achieving self-actualization.
Samantha Pringle, M.S.W
Assistant to the Director
My approach to wellbeing coaching is based in understanding a client's ideals of a balanced life and adjusting that to the realities of life's necessities. We also assess for blind spots, to assure that the physical, mental, and spiritual life are all addressed in some way. Wellbeing philosophy and scientific research suggest that if these three areas are all suitably addressed in a person's lifestyle, then each area will benefit even more individually. From there, we collaboratively create manageable, attainable goals for the client that over time lead to attainment of a desired lifestyle and trust in the client's ability to continue living a balanced life beyond the course of coaching. All of this amounts to increased happiness and enjoyment of the processes of life. Currently, I am a Duquesne University student working toward my M.S.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and earned my B.Mus. in Music Performance - Jazz Guitar Concentration from Duquesne. Additionally, I am finishing 100 hours of coursework for a certification in Yoga Sadhana through the Himalayan Institute and am engaged in 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training through Himalayan Institute Pittsburgh.