About the Counseling Service
The Counseling Service in the Counseling Center is the primary campus provider of free and confidential therapy to help UMD students manage personal, social, and academic challenges. Staffed primarily by licensed psychologists, the Counseling Service also conducts campus outreach presentations, provides emergency response services, and assists with referrals to off-campus mental health providers.
Consultation with a therapist about students of concern is available to University faculty, staff, and parents on the Counseling Service warmline.
To schedule an initial appointment, also called a brief assessment, call (301) 314-7651 or stop by the Counseling Center reception desk on the main level of Shoemaker Building.
If you are experiencing an urgent crisis, you may go to the Counseling Center front desk and request to be seen for a same-day urgent visit.
The therapeutic relationship and what is discussed by a therapist and client are considered private and protected under the law. We adhere to professional, legal, and ethical guidelines established by the State of Maryland and the American Psychological Association. Information about any aspect of your counseling relationship, including your appointments and records, will not be disclosed to anyone outside of the Counseling Center’s professional staff without your written permission. Please note that clinical records are completely separate from educational records and cannot be accessed by parents, faculty, staff, administrators, or others without your written permission or court order.
However, Maryland law establishes that in order to protect the client and/or the public, disclosures without the permission of the client may apply under the following circumstances:
- You are considered at immediate risk for harming yourself
- You are considered at immediate risk for harming others
- Previous or current child abuse
- Abuse of elderly persons or persons with disabilities
- A court order
As the primary campus provider of psychological and consultation services, the Counseling Center offers free and confidential counseling sessions to registered UMD undergraduate and graduate students.
The focus of the initial appointment, referred to as a brief assessment, is to determine the nature and impact of the presenting concerns and to identify options for addressing these issues. If additional treatment is indicated, the counselor will recommend the most effective method of treatment, which may include group counseling, career exploration, workshops, individual counseling, or referral to an off-campus mental health provider. In some cases, the brief assessment is sufficient for identifying ways to address the problems.
A Short-Term Model
The Counseling Center, which is staffed by licensed psychologists and counselors, applies a short-term model to individual counseling. In short-term counseling, issues are addressed over a few sessions in a solution-focused manner. The goal is to facilitate adjustment to college, reduce emotional distress, and foster resilience to help students continue attending college and pursue their academic, career, and personal goals. Therapists work to facilitate adjustment, healthy functioning, problem resolution, or symptom relief as quickly as possible. Clients who present with persistent and chronic psychological concerns and require continuous long-term treatment are best served by community providers who can offer uninterrupted treatment and care.
Since therapy issues vary from person to person, the length of treatment also varies and is based on goals set by the therapist and client and on ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of treatment. While the Counseling Center provides a maximum of eight individual counseling sessions per 12-month period, most Center clients achieve their therapeutic goals and end counseling in six sessions.
The first step to determining if individual counseling could be helpful is to schedule a brief assessment by calling the Counseling Center at (301) 314-7651 or stopping by the reception desk in Shoemaker Building.
Severe or Chronic Mental Health Issues
Counseling Center therapists may assist clients in obtaining relief from some of the emotional discomforts that can accompany severe or chronic mental health problems. In such cases, the objective is to stabilize and improve coping while determining whether more intensive treatment is indicated. When long-term treatment or specialized services are needed, the therapist will recommend a referral to community resources.
Referrals are available through an appointment with our care manager. Students in need of psychiatric services, such as evaluation, prescribing and monitoring of psychiatric medication, also may be referred by the Counseling Center to a psychiatrist at the Mental Health Service in the University Health Center.
Chetan Joshi, Ph.D. (he/him/his)
Academic History: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri- Kansas City 2008; M.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Missouri- Kansas City 2003; B.S. Pharmacy, University of Pune, India
Professional Interests: Religion and Spirituality, Eastern psychological theories, Meaning-Centered Therapy, Multicultural Issues, Training, and Supervision, Working with Students of Color, Working with International Students
Personal Interests: Reading, Hiking, Badminton, Cricket, Gardening
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal Neurobiology, Jungian Psychoanalysis, Person-Centered Therapy, Existential Therapy, Logotherapy
Theodore Pickett, Jr., Ph.D. (he/him)
Associate Director and Staff Psychologist
Academic History: Ph.D., 2006, Counseling Psychology, University of Iowa; B.A., 2000, Psychology, Wittenberg University.
Professional Interests: training and supervision; multicultural issues and training; men and masculinity; working with students of color.
Personal Interests: Plants; electronics; sports.
Theoretical Orientation: Multicultural, Psychodynamic, CBT.
Alex Agiliga, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2021, Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York; B.A., 2013, Double major: Psychology, Africana Studies, Minor: Portuguese & Brazilian Studies, Dickinson College.
Professional Interests: Black students, students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, identity development, intersectionality, internalized stigma, interpersonal concerns, family of origin concerns, career and vocational development, training and supervision, group therapy, couples therapy.
Personal Interests: Languages, music, audiobooks, museums, card- and board games, volleyball, travel.
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal, emotion focused, acceptance and commitment, multicultural, person-centered.
Allison Asarch, Psy.D. (she/her)
Coordinator for Outreach and Consultation Services and Staff Psychologist
Academic History: Psy.D., 2015, Clinical Psychology, Roosevelt University; M.A., 2011, Clinical Psychology, Roosevelt University; B.A., 2009, Psychology, Emory University.
Professional Interests: Developmental and identity-related concerns, family-of-origin concerns, eating and body image concerns, perfectionism, group therapy, social justice and empowerment, outreach programming, training and supervision.
Personal Interests: Socializing and laughter, games of all kinds, yoga, tennis, traveling.
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal, relational-cultural, person-centered.
Shealyn J. Blanchard, Ph.D. (she/her)
Academic History:Academic History: Ph.D., 2018, Counseling Psychology, Western Michigan University; M.A., 2012, Psychology, The City College of New York; B.A., 2010, Psychology, Spelman College.
Professional Interests: Social Justice/multiculturalism, anxiety, adjustment concerns, grief/loss, graduate student concerns, relationship difficulties, identity development, students of color, outreach/consultation
Personal Interests: Family/friends, poetry, music, sports, museums, and exploring new foods
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal Process, CBT, Multicultural
Maria Luz Berbery, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Training Director, Staff Psychologist
Academic History: Ph.D., 2013, Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland; M.S., 2010, Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland; B.A., 2006, Psychology, University of Maryland.
Professional Interests: Multicultural counseling and identity-related concerns, Latinx students' mental health and wellness, immigrant and undocumented students, family and relational concerns, trauma and growth, self-compassion.
Personal Interests: Dance, music, travel, reading
Theoretical Orientation: Psychodynamic, Relational/Interpersonal, Multicultural
Additional languages: Spanish
Christina Escobar (she/her/hers)
Initial Access Clinician
Academic History: MSW, 2007, Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work; B.A., 2006, Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Professional Interests: Social justice, multiculturalism, minority group identity and visibility
Personal Interests: Cycling, reading, painting, travel, quality time with my dog
Theoretical Orientation: Humanistic, Person-Centered, Mindfulness, Multicultural
Michelle Farrell, Ph.D. (they/them/their)
Academic History: Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, The University of Missouri – Kansas City (2018); M.A. in Clinical Psychology (2012), Sam Houston State University; B.A. in Psychology (minor in criminology), The University of Texas at Arlington (2010)
Professional Interests: LGBTQIA+ concerns (e.g., identity development, resiliency, positive factors, and intersectionality), diversity and inclusion on college campuses, and empowerment of marginalized populations.
Personal Interests: Gardening, hiking, and challenging the status quo of power dynamics.
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal Process, Feminist Multicultural, Cognitive-Behavioral.
Kara Frome, LCSW-C (she/her)
Academic History: MSW, 2006, the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Social Work; B.S., 2000, Family Studies, University of Maryland, College Park.
Professional Interests: Depression, Anxiety, Family Systems
Personal Interests: Spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, music, being outdoors
Theoretical Orientation: Strength-based, person-centered
Nehal El Guindy MS.,LCPC (she/her)
Initial Access Clinician
Academic History: M.S., 2009, Clinical Counseling, Johns Hopkins University; B.A.1990, Economics, American University in Cairo.
Professional Interests: Depression, anxiety, mood disorders, multicultural counseling, Arab American/Muslim minority issues, women's issues, relationship issues.
Personal Interests: hiking, photography, dancing, traveling and writing quotes on coffee cups.
Theoretical orientation: Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Multicultural.
Chris Harlen, LCSW (he, him, his)
Initial Access Clinician
Academic History: MSW, 2018, University of Pennsylvania; B.A., 2010, Human Development, Boston College
Professional Interests: Trauma, grief and loss, social justice, identity development, restorative and transformative justice, and criminal justice reform
Personal Interests: Friends and family, music, art, travel, the Washington Wizards, and golf
Theoretical Orientation: Trauma-informed, person-centered, strengths-based, multicultural, eclectic
Jihee Hong (she/her/hers)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2022, Counseling Psychology, Georgia State University; M.A., 2014, Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Sogang University; B.A., 2011, Psychology & B.S, 2011, Life Science, Sogang University
Professional Interests: Interpersonal concerns, intersectional identity development, trauma, grief, suicide prevention, multicultural issues, working with international students and students of color, training, and supervision
Personal Interests: Travel, Animals, Plants, Languages
Theoretical Orientation: Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), Interpersonal, Multicultural
Kristin Lilly, LCSW-C (she/her/ella)
Initial Access Clinician
Academic History: MSW (Concentration in Displaced Populations), 2014, Howard University; B.A., 2005 Spanish Translation (Minor in Italian Language and Literature), University of Maryland, College Park.
Professional Interests: Trauma, immigrant and undocumented students, international students, social justice, self-compassion
Personal Interests: Travel, world languages and cultures, reading, podcasts, festivals, spending time with friends and family, animals, volunteering
Theoretical Orientation: Person-centered, Mindfulness, Strengths-based
Additional Languages: Spanish
Yi-Jiun Lin, Ph.D. (she/her)
Assistant Director and Staff Psychologist
Academic History: Ph.D., 2008, Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia; M.Ed., 2003, School Counseling, University of Missouri-Columbia; B.S., 1998, Educational Psychology and Guidance, National Taiwan Normal University.
Professional Interests: cross-cultural counseling and training; supervision; trauma and grief issues; depression and anxiety; perfectionism; women’s issues; relationship issues.
Personal Interests: pottery; yoga; travelling; art appreciation.
Theoretical Orientation: eclectic, multicultural, and interpersonal process.
Grace-Ellen Mahoney (she/her/hers)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2022, Counseling Psychology, University of Georgia; M.A., 2017, Counseling Psychology, University of Denver; B.A., 2014, Family and Human Services, University of Oregon.
Professional Interests: Family of origin, substance use, identity development, grief and loss, ADHD, perfectionism, group psychotherapy, and culturally responsive mental health services.
Personal Interests: Reading, hiking, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and animal rescue.
Theoretical Orientation: Relational Cultural, Interpersonal, and Psychodynamic Theories within a Multicultural Framework.
Asia Malik, LCPC (she/her/hers)
Academic History: M.S. 2011, Clinical Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, B.S., 2006, Biological Sciences , B. A., 2006 Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Professional Interests: Career counseling, bariatric counseling, anxiety, depression, trauma.
Personal Interests: Taking care of houseplants and propagating new ones! Reading and finding new activities to do whether it be a museum or taking a painting class.
Theoretical Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral, Mindfulness, Interpersonal.
Rubi Mancilla (she/her/hers)
Initial Access Clinician
Academic History: M.A., 2017, Counseling Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology; B.A., 2014, Psychology & B.A., 2014, Women’s Studies, University of California, Riverside.
Professional Interests: Identity development, intersectional identities, first-generation college students, supporting sexual assault survivors, addressing workplace and academic burnout, advocating for trauma-informed care, and promoting cultural humility in mental health services
Personal Interests: Co-op board games, reality tv competitions, thrifting, spoiling my two cats, and always opting to order takeout
Theoretical Orientation: Client-centered, Solution-focused, Strength-based
Erica Shawn Merson, Ph.D. (she/her)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2012, Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland; M.S., 2009, Psychology, University of Maryland; B.A., 2004, Psychology, The George Washington University.
Professional Interests: work/family/life balance, body image, eating disorders, identity concerns, group therapy, relationship concerns.
Personal Interests: Sports and fitness, traveling, reading, socializing.
Theoretical Orientation: Eclectic, mindfulness and acceptance, positive psychology
Urvi Paralkar, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2022, Counseling Psychology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; M.A., 2019, Counseling Psychology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; M.A., 2017, Clinical Practices in Psychology, University of Hartford; B.A., 2014, Psychology, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, India
Professional Interests: Critical consciousness development, identity development, career/vocational concerns, international students' experiences, South Asian students' mental health, students of color well-being, self-compassion
Personal Interests: Painting/lettering/doodling, reading (autobiographies), visiting museums and botanical gardens, adventure sports
Theoretical Orientation: Transnational & Intersectional Feminism, Psychodynamic, Interpersonal, Integrative
Additional Languages: Marathi, Hindi
David Petersen, Ph.D. (he/him)
Academic History: Ph.D., 1998, Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland; B.A., 1983, Journalism, San Francisco State University.
Professional Interests: Individual and group therapy; supervision and training; international student issues
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal, psychodynamic, cultural
Pepper Ellen Phillips, Ph.D. (she/her)
Academic Rank: Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Education, Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education Department.
Academic History: Ph.D., 1990, Counseling Psychology, Indiana State University; M.A., 1984, Agency Counseling, Indiana State University; B.A., 1982, Psychology, Hanover College.
Professional Interests: Positive psychology; supervision and training; LGBT issues; career development.
Theoretical Orientation: Client-centered, Adlerian, and positive psychology.
CJ Polihronakis, Ph.D. (he/him/his)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2019, Counseling Psychology, Columbia University – Teachers College; M.Phil., 2018, Counseling Psychology, Columbia University – Teachers College; Ed.M., 2015, Mental Health Counseling, Columbia University – Teachers College; M.A., 2014, School Counseling, Columbia University – Teachers College; B.A., 2012, Psychology & English, Georgetown University.
Professional Interests: anti-racism, multiculturalism, and social justice; intersectional identity development; bisexuality, non-monosexuality, and sexual fluidity; LGBTQIA+ students; low-income and first-generation college students; men and masculinities; sex, intimacy, and sexual health; weightism/fat-phobia/sizeism; interpersonal concerns; family of origin concerns; couples/relationship therapy; group therapy; as well as supervision and training.
Personal Interests: trivia and board games, cooking, baking, reading, exploring new restaurants/foods, singing and music, museums, horror movies, witty jokes and sarcasm, and going on adventures with my dog.
Theoretical Orientation: Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), Multicultural, Interpersonal
Merrill Reiter (she/her/hers)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2021, Counseling Psychology, Oklahoma State University; M.S., 2017, Clinical Psychology, Loyola University Maryland; B.A., 2013, Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia.
Professional Interests: Multicultural and Social justice-related concerns, a family of origin, LGBTQIA+, Suicide intervention, decreasing stigma
Personal Interests: Arts and crafts, watching t.v., trying new restaurants, and exploring new places
Theoretical Orientation: Integrative with interpersonal process, multicultural and feminist theories.
Meghan Santos, LCPC (she/her/hers)
Academic History: M.A., 2018, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Appalachian State University; B.A., 2014, Psychology (minor in Criminal Justice), University of South Carolina.
Professional Interests: Eating disorders, body image, substance use, multicultural counseling, international student concerns, expressive arts therapy.
Personal Interests: Hiking, reading, photography, field hockey, and exploring new cities.
Theoretical Orientation: Person-centered, Mindfulness-Based, Cognitive-Behavioral
Chandni Shah, Ph.D. (she/her)
Academic History: Ph.D., 2016 Counseling Psychology, Purdue University; B.S., 2009, Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park (Minor in Public Health)
Professional Interests: Interpersonal violence, trauma recovery, Asian/South Asian American community concerns, communities of color experiences, intersectional identities, training, outreach, holistic healing.
Personal Interests: Dance, eating and exploring food, laughing.
Theoretical Orientation: Interpersonal Process, Systems, Multicultural.
Additional Languages: Gujarati and Hindi.
Doctoral Psychology Interns
Stephanie Burrows, M.A. (she/her/hers)
Academic History: M.A., 2016, Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; B.A., 2012, Psychology, St. Catherine University
Professional Interests: Identity development, anxiety, career exploration and development, chronic health concerns, multiculturalism and diversity
Personal Interests: Hiking, photography, gardening, yoga, bicycling, downhill skiing
Theoretical Orientation: Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Multicultural Feminist
Seoyoung Lim, MA, M.S.Ed (she/her/hers)
Academic History: M.S.Ed., 2018, Educational Studies, Purdue University; M.A., 2017, Child Development, Tufts University
Professional Interests: International students, microaggressions, social justice/multiculturalism, identity development, relationship issues
Personal Interests: Spending quality time with friends, exploring new restaurants, going hiking, playing poker games, and playing tennis
Theoretical Orientation: IPT (Interpersonal Psychotherapy); CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy); DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
Additional Languages: Korean
Lex Pulice-Farrow, M.A. (they/he)
Academic History: M.A. in Clinical Psychology, 2017, Towson University; B.A. in Psychology, 2014, Agnes Scott College
Professional Interests: Trans and nonbinary students, LGBQ+ identities, student athletes, men and masculinities, identity development, romantic relationships, group therapy, anti-racism and multicultural issues.
Personal Interests: Triathlon, hiking with my dog, cooking, reading new novels, tabletop roleplaying games
Theoretical Orientation: Relational Cultural, Multicultural Feminist, and CBT
NaYeon (NY) Yang, M.Ed. (she/her)
Academic History: M.Ed., 2017, Counseling, Korea University; B.A., 2012, Psychology and Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Professional Interests: Grief and loss, trauma, and PTSD; attachment; identity development, intersectional identities, students of color, LGBTQIA+, low-income, first-generation students, international students, and students with visible/invisible disabilities; family of origin concerns; diversity, multiculturalism, and social justice issues; career development; transference and countertransference; immediacy; meaning-centered therapy.
Personal Interests: Cooking, exploring local restaurants and coffee shops, traveling, reading, chilling, films and documentaries, photography, music, concerts, architecture, and art galleries.
Theoretical Orientation: Attachment-Informed, Psychodynamic, Interpersonal, Multicultural
Additional Languages: Korean
Margaret M. Gibbs (she/her)
Yolonda Lawrence (she/her)
Shereen Ashai (she/her)
Fall and Spring Semester Hours: Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Summer Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Phone Number: (301) 314-7651
After-Hours Crisis Support Phone Services: (301) 314-7651. Anytime outside of business hours (including weekends, holidays, and university closures)
We are located at:
4281 Chapel Lane
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
View on google maps
If you have any questions or need additional assistance, please call us at (301) 314-7651.