Center for Counseling and Consultation

The staff at the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) is dedicated to helping students with a whole range of challenges that may interfere with the ability to live well, relate to others, and succeed academically.

COVID-19 Update

Counseling and Consultation Services

To speak with a St. John's University counselor, please call 718-990-6352. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). More resources can be found at Hotlines.

Schedule a Telehealth Mental Health Counseling Appointment

As the Center for Counseling and Consultation is unable to provide on-site services to students due to the campus closure, the Center will offer telehealth mental health services.

If you are interested in receiving these services, please request a telemental health counseling appointment. Once we receive your request, a counselor will reach out via phone or email to discuss next steps.

TAO Connect

During this time, we encourage you to register for Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). Log in with your St. John’s email for free guided therapy for stress, anxiety, depression and other concerns.

COVID-19 Resources

What is telemental health? How do appointments work?

Telemental health is a way that we can provide direct services to our students through virtual means, e.g., phone or video conferencing. Telemental health is a great way for students to be able to access care, stay connected, and utilize resources while face-to-face appointments are not an option.

Initial appointments are conducted via phone and allow clinical staff to gather necessary information in order to determine how to best assist you and facilitate the most appropriate care. These appointments last about 20 minutes. During screenings, students are also encouraged to ask questions they may have about the process and telemental health. 

How should I prepare for my first telemental health appointment?

Your first appointment will be by phone. Subsequent appointments will utilize audio and video using TAO Connect; this is a HIPAA-compliant encrypted system designed for telehealth. For your appointments, please make sure to:

  • Have a computer, tablet, or phone with a camera, microphone, and speakers or headphones ready
  • Be in a private place to minimize background noise, interruptions, and distractions
  • Have a strong and reliable Internet connection

What can I expect from a telemental health appointment?

Once it is determined that telemental health is a good fit, a CCC clinician with the student will schedule a telemental health appointment via phone or video conferencing. Prior to the appointment, a CCC clinician will have set up a Therapy Assisted Online (TAO) account for the student. Oonce the account is set up, a confirmation email is sent directly to the student to complete registration.

At time of the scheduled appointment, student will be contacted by their clinician. The purpose of the telemental health appointment is to provide an opportunity for students to check in with their clinician while also working collaboratively utilizing TAO. Students and clinicians will be able to track progress in TAO together in real time during appointments. Additionally, these appointments are a great opportunity to process with clinicians any questions or concerns that may come up.

About the Center for Counseling and Consultation

There may be times when you might need extra support to cope more effectively with a personal or emotional issue. The staff at the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) is dedicated to helping students with a whole range of challenges that may interfere with the ability to live well, relate to others, and succeed academically.

These challenges may include: stress, anxiety, family or social concerns, relationship difficulties, grief, trauma, alcohol or substance abuse, food relationship issues, homesickness and loneliness.

Our services include assessment, individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultation and referral and outreach programming. Psychiatric consultation is also available when appropriate.  

All CCC services are free and confidential within the limits of legal and ethical restrictions. Information about students will not be shared with anyone without their written consent except in emergency situations if harm is imminent.

The Center uses a short-term counseling model but should you need more longstanding or specialized support referrals can be made to resources within the community that best suit your needs.

Please call or stop by our offices to make an appointment.

Who We Serve/Eligibility for Services

The Center for Counseling and Consultation serves the entire St. John’s University community including students, faculty, and staff:

  • Students: Undergraduate and graduate students taking 6 or more credits at St. John’s University are eligible for all CCC services. Students taking 5 or fewer credits and non-matriculating students are eligible for consultation and referral.
  • Faculty and Staff: Faculty and staff are not eligible for direct counseling services, however available services include consultation regarding of students of concern, classroom presentations, workshops and trainings offered by the center.
  • Parents and Family: Services for students are confidential including whether they are being seen for counseling at the center. However, parents and family are encouraged to contact CCC if they have concerns about the welfare of their son or daughter.

A Note about Confidentiality

All CCC services are confidential. Information about students will not be shared with anyone without students’ written consent except in emergency situations when there is a clear indication of imminent harm.

Please call or stop by our offices to make an appointment.

Hours and Contact Information

Queens CampusStaten Island Campus
Marillac Hall, Room 130
Tel: 718-990-6384
Fax: 718-990-2609

Fall and Spring Semester Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Summer Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday: Closed
Spellman Hall, Room 101
Tel: 718-390-4451

Fall and Spring Semester Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Summer Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday: Closed
After-hours helpline: 718-990-6352

Additional Information

What is counseling all about?
Counseling is a place where you develop a therapeutic relationship with a professional and talk about your concerns, define goals, make decisions, and solve problems. In counseling you can share your thoughts and feelings in confidence with a professional who is an objective listener and can help you to change your behavior in order to deal more effectively with a problem or by teaching you new skills. Counseling is a joint endeavor in which both you and your counselor work together to achieve goals that you set.

What kinds of problems are appropriate for counseling?
We will be glad to talk to you about whatever is on your mind. No problem is too big or too small for consultation. You don’t need to wait until you hit rock bottom to come in for counseling. In fact we recommend you come in sooner so you can manage potential problems before they grow. In our experience some of the most common reasons students seek our assistance are because: they are stressed out, having difficulty in school, are extremely anxious and nervous, very unhappy, and/or they are having relationship problems with their partner or their family. Other reasons students seek counseling include, but are not limited to, family problems, low self-confidence, and having difficulty adjusting to college life.

How long does counseling last?
We offer short-term counseling. Some problems may be resolved in one or two sessions while others require a series of appointments. Psychiatric consultation is also available for students who are interested in learning more and potentially taking medication. If more intensive or specialized therapy is indicated, we will work with you to find an appropriate outside provider.

Does counseling go on my records?
No! Your Counseling Center visits are confidential. Information is not shared with anyone without your permission. There are certain exceptions to confidentiality, which pertain to threat or harm to self or others and the abuse of children or incapacitated adults. These exceptions are rare and in almost all cases nobody outside of the Center will know about your visit. Please note, that if you are a student who is 17 years old or younger, you will need the consent of your parent or guardian to receive services. This does not necessarily mean that your parents will know what you discuss in counseling, however, they will know that you are seeing a counselor. Please see our policy on confidentiality for additional information (link to confidentiality section).

Who can use the Counseling Center?
Any student, graduate or undergraduate, currently enrolled at St. John’s University is eligible to use our services. Graduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of six credits. (link to student services).

How much does counseling cost?
Counseling Center services are free of charge. We do recommend, however, that students also secure health insurance as at times we do refer students to community providers for continued or specialized treatment.

I thought you had to be crazy to go to counseling (and I'm not crazy)?
You don’t have to be crazy to go to counseling. People go to counseling for all kinds of reasons and the Center for Counseling and Consultation is equipped to address many different issues. As we have already mentioned, the most common reasons people come to the Counseling Center are because they are stressed out, having difficulty in school, or are having relationship problems, not because they are crazy.

Will I be put on medication?
No. Psychiatric services, such as medication, are completely optional. We have a psychiatrist on staff who can consult with you about what would work best for your treatment needs. Medication can often be helpful especially for students who may be depressed or anxious, however, the decision to take or not take medication is completely up to the student.

Isn’t going for counseling a sign of weakness and a sign that I can't handle my own problems?
Everyone experiences hardships at one point or another in their lives, especially at this life stage. We know you are resilient and strong, however, there are some instances when additional information or viewpoints can be helpful in your decision making process. Recognizing when you need help, and then getting it, is a sign of strength, maturity, and good problem-solving skills not a sign of weakness.

Counseling won't work for me. It's not helpful.
There are no guaranteed results, that is true, but how do you know it won’t work for you if you don’t try it? There is a high probability that counseling can be helpful as many of our students report. According to results from our most recent survey, students who came to the Counseling Center reported the following benefits: overall satisfaction with counseling, an increased ability to cope with their stressors, overall improvement as the result of counseling, an improvement in pursuit of their life goals, better relationships with their friends, partner, and family, improved academic performance, an easier adjustment to college life, and better job performance.  

I have tried counseling before and it didn't work.
Your past experience may not have been a good one, but you are in a different place now with different people. Our staff is specifically trained to work with the college population, to work with students from diverse backgrounds, and how to treat students as adults, with respect and without judgment. Approach your new counseling experience with an objective, open mind and see where it takes you.

In my culture, we don’t talk to counselors.
One of the amazing things about St. John’s is that we have students from all over the country and all over the world, from all different walks of life. In fact, did you know, that more than half of the students we saw this past year for counseling identified as students of color? We recognize that in many cultures there is often a great deal of stigma associated with talking to a counselor or mental health professional or anyone outside your family. People may think talking to a psychologist, for example, means you are “crazy” or weak (which we know is not true) or that it may somehow embarrass you or your family. We are sensitive to your needs here at the Counseling Center and will work with you to talk about your concerns. As we have already said, your visit with us is confidential and the fact that you recognize you could use extra help is a wonderful strength you have.

I hear that the counseling center sends students to the psychiatric hospital.
Our main mission at the Counseling Center is not to hospitalize our students but to assist them in coping more effectively with their stressors and to maximize their experience here at St. John’s. In very rare and extreme cases, where there are concerns for safety, we sometimes do send students to the emergency room (ER) for further evaluation to ensure that the student, and other students, remain safe. If a student is sent to the ER he/she will be evaluated by a psychiatrist who will determine if he/she requires hospitalization for stabilization. Keep in mind, psychiatric hospitalization is not a punishment but is a time when someone can temporarily put their stressors aside and spend full-time focusing on a healthy recovery.

What should I expect at my first counseling appointment?
If this is the first time that you will be seen at the Center, your first appointment is called an initial consultation, which is an assessment/interview designed to find out how best we can help you. During your consultation you will be asked to sign a consent form for counseling and to complete a demographics form and mental health questionnaires prior to starting. You will then meet your clinician who will determine how we can better be of help.

Who will be my therapist/counselor?
In order to serve you as quickly and as efficiently as possible, your first intake appointment at the Center will be with the counselor who is first available. If you have a specific counselor preference, such as a preferring a female counselor, please indicate this when scheduling your appointment and we will make every effort possible to accommodate your request. Please be aware, however, that your counselor of preference may not be available right away which may delay your appointment time. 

Crisis Situations/Consultations (Emergencies)

  • There is a clinician on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you with any students of concerns.
  • Contact CCC immediately if you become aware of a student who is making direct or indirect references to self-harm, suicide, harming others, or appears to be out-of-touch with reality.
  • Faculty and staff may call CCC during regular hours at: 718-990-6384 or Public Safety after hours at 718-990-5252.
  • Oftentimes, faculty and staff are able to walk student of concern to CCC and then our staff can meet with the student for assessment and follow-up care.

Refering a Student to Counseling (Non-emergencies)

How to Refer Someone for Counseling and Consultation Services
When you have determined that an individual might benefit from professional counseling, it is best to speak to them in a straightforward manner that will show your concern for their welfare, i.e. "I'm concerned about you, you might want to speak with a counselor in the Center for Counseling and Consultation." Encourage them to call us or come directly to the Center for an appointment.

Tips for Referring a Student:

  • Use a direct approach and express concerns for his/her welfare. Do not attempt to deceive or trick a student into seeking counseling. Be specific regarding the behaviors that you see in the student that cause you concern.
  • Anticipate the student's concerns and fears about counseling. Specifically address their concerns (see suggestions in the next section).    
  • Create a positive expectation of how counseling can help. Leave the option for counseling open, except in emergencies, for the student to accept or refuse the referral. If the student is reluctant for whatever reason, express your acceptance of those feelings so you can maintain your own relationship with the student.
  • Give the student an opportunity to consider other alternatives by suggesting that they may need some time to think it over. If the student refuses counseling at this time, respect that decision and leave the situation open for possible referral at a later time.
  • Ask the student at a later date what action they took. Even if the student did not take your suggestion, your concern for their well being will be appreciated.

Students' Concerns About Counseling and Consultation
Due to many reasons, students often have concerns about seeking counseling and if these concerns are not directly discussed they may prevent a student from seeking the help they need.

Concern: Only crazy people go to counseling (and I'm not crazy).
Response: I don't think you're crazy. People go to counseling for all kinds of reasons and the St. John's University Center for Counseling and Consultation is equipped to address many different issues.

Concern: Going for counseling is a sign of weakness. It shows I can't handle my own problems.
Response: You are capable of handling most of your problems. There are some, however, that are difficult to handle alone. Recognizing when you need help, and then getting it, is a sign of good problem-solving skills.

Concern: Counseling won't work for me. It's not effective.
Response: There are no guaranteed results, that is true. There is a high probability that counseling can be helpful. It has worked for a large number of students and it could work for you. Give it a try.

Concern: I tried it before and it didn't work.
Response: Your past experience was not a good one for you, but you are in a different place now and you will be talking with different people. You shouldn't base past experiences on new opportunities.

Concern: I'm afraid that my parents/dean will find out.
Response: What you share with the counselor is strictly confidential. Information is not released to anyone (parents, friends, relatives, teachers) without your permission.

Classroom Presentations and Trainings

CCC staff also provides educational presentations that may be relevant to your class including topics such as:

  • Stress management
  • Communication
  • Diversity
  • Team building
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Meditation
  • Suicide prevention

Please call CCC 718-990-6384 if you would like to schedule a session for your class/organization.


All CCC services are confidential.  Although we understand faculty and staff’s interest in their students, we are unable to disclose information about a student without his or her written consent.

Preparing Your Student for College Life

Beginning college is a unique experience in your student’s life.  There are many things you and your student can do to care for your student’s mental and physical health to help facilitate a smooth transition into college life.  Some suggestions:

  • Educate your students about health insurance and create a list of emergency referrals including family members, health providers, and other significant members.
  • Plan ahead for doctor’s visits and medication refills.
  • If you have concerns about your student’s mental health or if there are ongoing psychiatric issues that require long-term counseling, contact us in advance for referrals for local providers.

Note: Counseling is not mandated nor required for students as effective counseling must be voluntary.  In life-threatening situations, authorities at SJU may require a safety assessment.  However, CCC does not provide court-ordered nor other litigation required counseling.

Crisis Situations/Consultations (Emergencies)

There is a clinician on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your SJU student.

Contact CCC immediately if you become aware of a student who is making direct or indirect references to self-harm, suicide, harming others, or appears to be out-of-touch with reality.

Parents and family may call CCC during regular hours at: (718) 990 – 6384 or Public Safety after hours at (718) 990 – 5252 for consultation.

If your student requires immediate assistance call 911 or take him or her to the nearest emergency room.

Refering a Student to Counseling (Non-emergencies)

Here are some tips for concerned parents who believe their student may be experiencing difficulties.

  • Offer supportive feedback
    In a supportive a supportive manner, talk with your student about your concerns.  Provide examples about what you have observed and explain why you are concerned.  
  • Normalize the student's experience
    It is not unusual for students to experiences some difficulties with adjustment as they take this next step in their lives, often away from their homes and primary support system.  Students can have their first encounter with or a reoccurrence of symptoms of depression or anxiety during this time of transition and change.  It can be helpful to let remind your student that having such feelings is not uncommon as your student navigates a new environment and new responsibilities (e.g. being away from home, living with roommates, time management, making new friends, etc.).  Then, you can work with your student to discuss how your student can best cope with these new challenges.
  • Clarify expectations and roles
    College is a time when roles and communication can change within the family.  It can be helpful for parents and students to clarify their expectations (e.g. grades, phone calls, visits, etc).
  • Encourage the student to meet with a counselor
    When a student seems to be experiencing more stress than he or she is well able to cope with on his or her own, it can be helpful to remind your students that counselors are available for counseling and consultation right on campus.  A student can come for one session to ask questions and seek support and make a decision about whether regular counseling would be helpful.  Our staff strives to listen to your students and work with your student to determine what interventions might work best in every situation. 

Individual Counseling
In individual counseling, students sit down one-on-one with a counselor and talk about their concerns, define goals, make decisions, and solve problems. Over a short period of time, students and counselors work together to achieve the goals set by students. Counselors are professional helpers who can listen to students’ concerns and help students deal more effectively with a problem. Some problems may be resolved in one or two sessions while others require a series of appointments.

Group Counseling
As with individual counseling, group counseling also focuses on talking about students’ concerns, defining goals, making decisions, and solving problems. However, in group students gather with a professional and peers. The groups are usually led by 1-2 group leaders and can consist of anywhere from 2-8 students in a group. Many of our groups meet regularly on a scheduled day and time during the course of the semester. All groups are confidential and members agree not to share any information with others nor identify members outside of the group. Many students find group therapy beneficial because: they feel encouraged hearing how others have overcome obstacles, they can feel more “normal” and self-accepting knowing that others share their same problems, and they can feel supported by their peers.

Consultation and Referrals
In addition to offering counseling, the Counseling Center also provides consultation services to students and staff. During a consultation members of the community can   speak with a clinician, either via telephone or in person, and share their concerns. Concerns may be about one’s own well-being or about the well-being of another, like a roommate or a friend. Our clinicians will work with concerned members to come up with an effective plan of action.

Sometimes students that we see may require counseling for longer periods of time or may require more intensive or specialized therapy, in which case we will work with you to find a therapist or clinician outside of St. John’s who can more appropriately treat them. We do recommend that students secure health insurance as many counselors or therapists in the community accept insurance for their services.

At the Counseling Center we have a psychiatrist on staff who we work and consult with about psychopharmacology. Some students may come to the Counseling Center already taking medication to help them function better while other students may decide that they may want to start medication while at the Counseling Center. Taking medication is not for everybody and taking it is completely up to the student.  Medication can often be helpful especially for students who may be depressed or anxious. We encourage students to talk with their therapists about setting up a consultation with our psychiatrist to learn more about potentially taking medication.

Crisis Intervention/Psychological Emergencies
There is a clinician on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help students who are in crisis.  If a student is in crisis, he or she can come to the Center or call us at 718-990-6384 during business hours. If it is after business hours, please contact Public Safety at 718-990-5252, the Residential Assistant or Residential Director, or call 911 for immediate assistance and they will contact CCC if needed.

As part of the Department of Student Wellness, a significant focus of the Center’s mission is to adopt a proactive stance in promoting a positive health environment for all members of the St. John’s community. We offer workshops, classroom presentations, and training programs to various student, faculty, and staff groups on campus. Some of our outreach and training efforts have included: depression and eating disorder screenings, developing stress management techniques, self-compassion workshops, and sexual violence and suicide prevention trainings.  Please contact us at the Center if you would like to arrange a time for one of our staff members to present to your organization or staff. 

The primary mission of the St. John’s University Center for Counseling and Consultation is to provide counseling services to students at St. John’s University.

Services are provided by licensed psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals assisted by doctoral fellows who are advanced students in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at St. John’s University.

Doctoral Fellowships in University Mental Health

The Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) seeks to promote the overall personal, social, and academic development of the student body through a variety of specialized professional services. It functions within the Division of Student Affairs in concert with other departments united in promoting student development and wellness. The CCC is committed to the provision of culturally-sensitive counseling and outreach services, and to the training of mental health practitioners who seek to develop their multicultural competencies in a college setting.

The CCC staff is comprised of full time psychologists, licensed mental health counselor, a psychiatric consultant, doctoral fellows, graduate assistants, and administrative support staff. The CCC has offices on both the Queens and Staten Island campuses, but the doctoral fellows are exclusively based on the Queens campus. The CCC environment offers an appealing combination of challenging and varied clinical work in a supportive professional setting.

Several doctoral fellowships are available. All fellowships are 20 hours per week during the academic year of September 1 through May 15. The fellowship provides a comprehensive training experience in university mental health with an emphasis on clinical assessment, short term individual therapy, and outreach to a diverse undergraduate and graduate population of approximately 20,000 students. Fellows typically maintain an active caseload of 8-10 individual psychotherapy clients. They will also be expected to participate in outreach workshops/trainings. The position will include tuition remission of up to 12 credits per semester plus a stipend.

Fellows meet with their individual supervisor for at least one hour of supervision each week. More individual supervision will be provided if needed based on client load or complexity of cases. Additionally, fellows will participate in case conference meetings, staff clinical meeting, and in various seminars, including a multicultural seminar, a seminar related to intake writing, and issues related to university mental health.

Applicants must be matriculated in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at St. John’s University and have completed at least one formal externship placement (by the start of fellowship). In order to apply, please submit completed applications, which include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation (one must be provided by an externship supervisor) to the email addresses below beginning March 1st for the following academic year.

Lauren Appio, Ph.D, Staff Psychologist/Coordinator of Training
St. John’s University
Center for Counseling and Consultation
Marillac Hall Room 130
[email protected]

The Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) is eager to support you through its outreach program initiatives.

Our outreach services can serve as preventative care. By giving you information about important topics affecting you, we can help you feel empowered to think about your health and wellness differently and perhaps recognize ways of getting assistance for you and your community.

Here are the various mental health outreach topics we present on, and you may also request outreach for your campus organization:

Outreach Topics

  • Anxiety 101
  • Am I Depressed?
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Communication Skills
  • Diversity 101
  • Home for the Holidays
  • Intro to Group Counseling
  • Mental Health 101
  • Social Anxiety and College
  • Social Media
  • Stress Effects
  • Study Skills /Time Management
  • Wellness the Mind Body Connection
  • Decision Making
  • Mindfulness (guided meditations/ imagery)
  • Wise Mind Workshop: Mindfulness
  • Wise Mind Workshop: Interpersonal Effectiveness
  • Wise Mind Workshop: Distress Tolerance
  • Wise Mind Workshop: Emotion Regulation
  • Career Exploration and Coaching
  • About Psychology Careers

Outreach Offerings

  • Trainings and Screenings
  • Anxiety/Stress Screenings
  • Campus Connect: Gatekeeper Suicide Training
  • Depression Screenings
  • Nutrition Screenings

Please note that all request for outreach need to be made at least two weeks in advance. This allows us to better serve your needs and outreach goals. And if you don’t see the topic you want, we take requests with at least three weeks notice.

Complete the online form to request an outreach program on a topic of your choice.

For more information, you may contact Schekeva P. Hall, Ph.D., at 718-990-6384 or [email protected].

Marissa Fruchter, Psy.D.

Marissa Fruchter, Psy.D.

Staff Psychologist with Trauma Emphasis


  • PsyD in Clinical Psychology, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University
  • BA in Clinical Psychology, Tufts University

Relevant Experience
Dr. Fruchter has worked with individuals of all ages and from a wide variety of backgrounds in settings including a community clinic, an inpatient hospital, a case management agency, and a day program for individuals with psychosis. She has also worked with university students in the counseling centers at Fordham University and La Salle University.
Clinical Interests
Dr. Fruchter enjoys helping undergraduate and graduate students explore various aspects of their identities and their interpersonal relationships while learning to cope with the challenges that students face during this period of their lives. While she is a generally psychodynamic clinician, she incorporates elements of other therapy approaches to tailor treatment to each individual. In Dr. Fruchter's role as trauma specialist, she strives to help survivors feel heard, safe, and empowered.
Fun Fact
Dr. Fruchter likes to paint, dance, and go to yoga classes in her free time.

Janine O’Brien, Psy.D.

Staff Psychologist with Multicultural Emphasis


  • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, University of Hartford
  • M.A. in Psychology, Adelphi University
  • B.A. in Psychology, Hofstra University

Relevant Experience
Dr. O’Brien is a clinical psychologist in New York.  Her previous experiences include working with diverse populations in community mental health, a vocational school counseling center, college and university counseling centers, and a state psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents.  Prior to coming to St. John’s University, Dr. O’Brien provided individual and group treatment to students at American University in Washington, D.C. and Pace University in New York.
Clinical Interests
Dr. O’Brien’s clinical interests include ethnic and racial minority mental health, identity development, multicultural and diversity issues, and trans-racial adoption.

Dr. O’Brien’s approach to therapy is collaborative and client-centered.  She is committed to co-creating a space where clients can explore their experiences and achieve further awareness of themselves and others.  Dr. O’Brien believes that with increased awareness and understanding that clients find themselves more empowered to build upon their strengths and make significant changes in their lives.  Dr. O’Brien works from an integrative framework grounded primarily in relational and multicultural approaches.

Fun Fact
Dr. O’Brien enjoys dark chocolate and CrossFit.

Erin Ryan, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Staten Island Campus

Dr. Ryan obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St. John’s University, Staten Island Campus. Dr. Ryan also obtained Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology from St. John’s University, Queens Campus.

Relevant Experience
Prior to joining the staff at the Center for Counseling and Consultation, Dr. Ryan was working in private practice, treating adults, children and families. Dr. Ryan also worked at the Seamen’s Society for Children and Families in the Psychology Department for four years and completed her pre-doctoral internship at Sagamore Childrens’ Psychiatric Center.

Clinical Interests
Psychotherapy and Assessment with Children, Adolescents, Adults and Families; Anxiety, Trauma, Developmental Issues

Fun Fact
Dr. Ryan is a vegetarian.

Dorothy Schmitt, LMHC

Associate Director, Center for Counseling and Consultation


Dorothy Schmitt, LMHC

Ms. Schmitt holds a Masters Degree in Counselor Education from St John’s University. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York State (LMHC), and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) since 1989.

Relevant Experience
Ms. Schmitt has been with the Counseling Center in various capacities for 31 years, and is currently the Associate Director for the Center as well as the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Clinical Interests
Grief and Loss, Emerging Adulthood, Identity formation, and LGBTQ concerns, Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy in Group work.

Fun Fact
Ms. Schmitt is a long suffering Mets fan and a committed vegan.

Miriam Varghese, Psy.D.

Staff Psychologist and Training Coordinator


  • Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, Baylor University
  • B.A. in Psychology, Vassar College

Relevant Experience
Dr. Varghese is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York State. She has worked in a variety of settings and with diverse populations for the past 8 years. Most recently, Dr. Varghese provided individual, couples, and group therapy to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Rochester and at Oberlin College.

Clinical Interests
Though Dr. Varghese is a generalist by training, her clinical interests include interpersonal difficulties, family of origin concerns, grief and loss, identity development and integration, and multicultural issues.

Dr. Varghese strives to create a safe, empathetic, and accepting environment for students to explore their past and present experiences and attain a deeper understanding of themselves and their current patterns of behavior. Her approach is collaborative and she works hard to help students feel empowered to make important changes in their lives and in their relationships.

Dr. Varghese is committed to meeting students where they are and is sensitive to the ways she might modify her approach to address individual needs. She primarily works within a psychodynamic and relational framework but often incorporates cognitive behavioral and mindfulness techniques into her therapy as well.

Fun Fact
Dr. Varghese was on a travel soccer team for 11 years and once played against Lindsey Lohan.

Tow Yee Yau, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Counseling and Consultation


Tow Yee Yau, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology; Cognate in Clinical Psychology, University of Denver
  • M.S. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, Western Washington University
  • B.Sc. in Psychology, University of Victoria

Relevant Experience
Dr. Yau has extensive training and experience working with diverse populations (e.g., children, adolescents, and adults) in college counseling centers, community mental health centers, medical hospitals/centers, and corporate organizations in the United States and Singapore. Over the years, he has provided individual, couples, and group counseling and psychotherapy with issues such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, stress-related disorders, career decision, and multicultural issues. He has facilitated a popular Mindfulness Meditation group called “Relieve Your Monkey Mind” for college students to deal with their anxiety through meditation and yoga exercises. Dr. Yau also loves to provide clinical supervision to psychology trainees and coaching to clinical staff members. Prior to joining St. John’s University, he served as Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Cincinnati. Further, he has been a faculty member, mental health consultant, and leadership coach in the United States and Singapore.

Clinical Interests
Professional and clinical interests include Mindfulness Training for Leaders, Mindfulness Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, Buddhist Psychology, Corporate Coaching, Clinical Supervision & Training, College Students Mental Health, Couples Counseling, and Multicultural Counseling.

Fun Fact
Dr. Yau is an international psychologist who grew up in a harmonious and multicultural Singapore. He is bicultural/bilingual and is able to provide psychotherapy or counseling in English and Mandarin. He loves to spend time with family members drinking tea, travelling, jogging, and enjoying gourmet food.