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.
Tiffany L. Gillie, Psy. D.
My name is Tiffany Gillie, and my interest is in working with college students in the individual and group therapy setting. I completed my pre-doctoral practicum and internship training at both urban and rural university counseling centers, and I very much enjoy working with students from a variety of diverse backgrounds, orientations, and belief systems. Many of the students I work with present with a variety of symptoms including sadness, worry, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem and are often experiencing interpersonal difficulties/relationship problems; transitional stress; issues related to identity development, confusion, or stress; family of origin issues; and issues of codependency. I utilize a relational perspective in my work which includes examining not only the interpersonal relationship dynamics in a student's life, but also how the therapeutic relationship mirrors those interactional patterns. I believe that by utilizing the therapeutic relationship as a tool for examining these interactions, students can achieve insight into more fulfilling ways of relating to others and become better connected to the role emotions play in their symptoms. I view the work done in therapy as an important avenue in reducing distress and creating a better quality of life, and I believe this can be accomplished through building confidence in interactions, strengthening internal resources for managing stress, and working through issues related to codependency or identity formation, confusion, and stress.
Kelly L. Walz
Cheri R. Neely, MS.Ed.
Assistant to the Director
Gretchen P. Beck, M.Ed.