Meet the Staff
Ian C. Edwards, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Student Wellbeing & Director of Counseling Services
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.
Matthew J. Walsh, PhD, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
Assistant Director / 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.
Shawn Francis-Coleman, M.S P.C
Assistant Director / Outreach 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.
Matt DiAnthony, PsyD
I enjoy the privilege and richness of working with college students in a therapeutic context. Within these interactions, I draw from a number of treatment modalities depending upon what is most appropriate for the individual's presenting concerns. I believe it is imperative to work to see and understand the totality of one's being and experiences and how that factors into how they see and approach themselves, others, and the world around them. In therapy, we also often work to integrate the different aspects of the self so that one can be more fully present in their own lives and begin to love their entire being. The establishment of the therapeutic relationship is an essential part of the process and I try to meet individuals' needs with compassion and understanding. Everyone has strengths and areas in which they can do things in a way that will bring more fulfilment and less distress into their lives. Capitalizing on strengths and addressing growth areas can be beneficial for everyone and therapy can help people understand where those areas are and how to utilize them to enact meaningful change. I welcome your presence in therapy.
Amy Horton, PsyD
I really enjoy working with college students and feel grateful to be a postdoctoral resident at Duquesne University. While I believe that we are all engaged in an ongoing process of personal growth, I feel that the unique experience of being a college student intensifies this process. As a therapist, I utilize an integrative approach that focuses on meeting the specific needs of the students with whom I work. During each distinctive therapeutic journey, I view students holistically and strive to understand and appreciate their individual perspectives. I see things through a humanistic lens and work from a psychological flexibility viewpoint. Simply put, psychological flexibility is about being present, open, and doing what matters. My goal is to help all students with whom I am privileged to work lead a more meaningful life through contact with the present moment, cultivating acceptance, attention to thoughts, increasing awareness, and identifying values.
Amal Kouttab, MA
Fundamentally, I believe that effective therapy begins with establishing a basic foundation of trust. This process can take time, particularly for those who have experienced betrayal, trauma, and interpersonal loss. During therapy, I work with individuals to identify recurring themes in their narrative, moving back and forth between the past and present, gradually uncovering threads that connect temporal experience. A focus of therapy, particularly for those who are experiencing relational difficulties, involves identifying current and past relational patterns and how these may have developed as a result of lived-experience. I also attend to ecological factors that may be contributing to distress, such as experiences of marginalization and systemic oppression. I tend to draw upon a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as mindfulness-based and self-compassion approaches to help individuals develop present awareness of internal states, abide with primary emotions, and refrain from self-judgment. While I do not believe that insight alone is sufficient to produce change, I do believe it motivates change. Insight that is truly transformative includes not only intellectual awareness, but also the experience of associated emotions. Thus, creating a space that facilitates the expression of emotion is also a critical component of my work.
Ashley James, M.A. Marriage and Family Counseling
Triage and Intake Coordinator
Samantha Pringle, L.S.W.
Assistant to the Director/ Triage Counselor
Information in this site is not intended to replace a one-on-one consultation with a licensed mental health worker. If you are a student having problems, we urge you to contact us at 412.396.6204 to schedule an appointment.