Molloy College’s Mental Health Clinic Provides Counseling for Community
By Briana Bonfiglio - LI Herald
Virtual Support Group for First Responders on June 15
Though Molloy College's Mental Health and Wellness Center is not seeing patients in person at this time, it offers tele-mental health services.
Residents can seek individual therapy, group and couples therapy and support group therapy from the Rockville Centre clinic, located at 30 Hempstead Ave., by calling or emailing. Currently, all sessions are being held virtually.
"We are eager to continue to serve the community," Dr. Laura Kestemberg, who founded the clinic in January 2019. "Someone will answer your call or email and get back to you right away."
Kestemberg is an associate professor, chair, associate dean and director of Molloy College's Master of Science Program and Department of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She launched the clinic as a way to give graduate psychology students practical training in mental health counseling.
Now, one full-time, licensed mental health professional supervises a handful of students who provide the services, as well as three additional supervisors who are also licensed professionals. The supervisors oversee all the clinic's cases, support the students and assist with services for individual clients and support groups.
"My vision was always to have a training clinic where graduate counseling students could train under the supervision of licensed mental health professionals," Kestemberg said. "I'm very proud of our program because we've come such a long way in a short time."
Molloy's master's of science program in clinical mental health counseling is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The accompanying mental health center offers treatment at low costs to the community. It is also a vital learning experience for Molloy's clinical counseling graduate students earning their degrees.
"We are a training site for our students, where they learn how to be the best and most compassionate counselors," Kestemberg said.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the clinic has been offering tele-mental health services. All clinicians and graduate students underwent vigorous training to offer the virtual therapy for patients.
Kestemberg noted that many mental illnesses or substance addictions could be exacerbated due to job loss or changes in normal routines. Even those without previous mental health conditions could be seeking counseling because of added stressors, like working from home or coping with childcare, due to the pandemic. Others could also be coping with the death of a loved one.
In addition to individual treatment, the clinic runs regular support groups. "More than ever people are isolated in their homes," Kestemberg said, "Support groups, even ones held remotely, are a powerful sounding board, it's a real source of comfort for people.
"We want to help people share their experiences, this normalizes their feelings and people attending our support groups realize what they are feeling is universal," she added. "There's an underlying anxiety that we all share that we don't know what's coming."
Each support group focuses on a theme, such as communication skills, mindfulness, self-esteem or coping with grief. On June 15, Kestemberg and the clinic's director, Kellyanne Brady, will lead a Covid-19 first responders group session via Zoom video conference.
"First responders have been under a significant amount of stress during the current pandemic," Brady said. "This group will focus on providing first responders with a place to explore their stressors and learn ways to manage stress and promote self-care."
To schedule an appointment or register for a support group, call the clinic at 516.323.3854 or email at MHWC@molloy.edu.