Meet the Staff
Ian C. Edwards, Ph. D.
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, Ph. D.
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, Ph. D.
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, Ph.D.
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.
Elizabeth (Betsy) A. Lehman, Ph.D.
My name is Elizabeth Lehman, but I nearly always prefer the name Betsy. I have a special interest in working with college students in individual and group settings. I believe that college is a time to grow, to learn about who you are and what you believe in, and to be stretched in new and challenging ways. With that said, times of growth are usually accompanied by struggle. College is difficult in its own right, and it can also be a time when we are confronted with high amounts of stress, new and changing relationships, and experiences of injustice. I specialize in working with anxiety, depression, transition concerns, as well as core identity struggles related to the big Who Am I questions of gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability-status, career, and spiritual orientation. I am an integrative therapist, which means I incorporate techniques from multiple psychological theories and backgrounds; however, I am particularly drawn to a humanistic framework and both mindfulness and feminist-based psychological practices. I believe that healing occurs when we are able to move toward accepting our whole selves and the totality of our experiences while at the same time leaning into the selves we want to become and the communities we want to create.
Christa E. Close, M.S.
I use a number of approaches including interpersonal, feminist, multicultural, and psychodynamic theories. I have worked with individuals and groups in university counseling centers for my doctoral practicum and internship training. I enjoy helping students through the developmental struggles of their undergraduate and graduate years. It is important to feel connected, supported, and validated while adjusting to changes in living, academic, vocational, and identity issues. As a clinician in the field of counseling psychology, I consider personal strengths and prevention as two areas of focus.
Samantha M. Pringle, M.S.W.
Mental Health Case Manager/Intake Coordinator
My name is Samantha Pringle, I am the Mental Health Case Manager and Intake Coordinator here at Duquesne's Counseling and Wellbeing Center. I attended graduate school at California University of Pennsylvania where I graduated with my Masters in Social Work. As the Case Manager, I consult with the counseling center therapists, in order to coordinate community referrals for the students who require a level of care outside of our counseling center. I also work as the triage therapist, where I meet and consult with all of the students that come into the counseling center as an emergency appointment. I work with these students, in order to find the best level of care for them based on their presenting issues and needs. As the role of the Case Manager, my method aims for quality of care and the continuity of services in our social context of efficiency and effectiveness.
Cheri R. Neely, MS.Ed.
Assistant to the Director