Blog: Humans of CMHC

Hello! My name is Tatiana and I am a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate Student at Molloy College. We will be featuring the students and faculty members on our webpage where you will get to know the heart of the program (students and faculty) and see why they have chosen this program or profession, and see what it means to be a graduate student in this program. Welcome to Humans of CMHC.

November 2017

A picture of Zakiya M., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort

My name is Zakiya McCormick. I always had a passion for helping others, and along the way, I learned that I was a great listener. When you are young, it is easy to think, "why not get paid for listening to people and helping them?" As I got older, however, I became more interested and invested in helping others. Initially, I was going to stop at just a Bachelor's degree, but one of my father's wishes for me when he got sick was for me to continue my education. He told me to follow my dreams and find something I am very interested in so that I could finish out school doing something I love. I stumbled across Molloy's program on the Internet and saw it was a new Master's program that was introduced to the school. Not only was I doing something my father wanted me to do, but I was also going to be a part of history: I was going to be a part of the first class to graduate from Molloy's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. I knew right away this was going to be something "epic." During my time in this program a lot has happened in my life, and a lot about me has changed. Support from the Director, faculty and students in the department that know my story have helped me so much along the way. It hasn't always been easy, but I'm glad to be a part of this amazing program.

Zakiya M., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort

A picture of Steven L., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

My name is Steven, and I am a first year student in the CMHC program. I feel really lucky to be a part of something so great. I really love how the program at Molloy makes each cohort feel like they are a part of a growing family. I chose to pursue my master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling because I really want to learn how to help people who are facing very different, and very difficult, issues. Every day, for example, through the news or social media, I see how much injustice is directed toward people suffering with mental health issues. It is this injustice that inspires me to want to create change, and that is why I am so grateful to a part of this program.

Each week I look forward to going to class because each one is full of energy, and it is exciting to be in a room full of people that are so passionate about mental health. I love how each week the professors challenge us to think critically, and encourage us to voice our own opinions and thoughts. I love how the professors create a welcoming environment where the students are encouraged to open up and express themselves.

One of the best parts about coming to class each week is spending my evenings with some amazing people. The people in my cohort are so loving and caring, and I can feel each week that we are growing closer and closer. I am so glad that I am fortunate enough to be a part of this cohort, it is a great privilege, and I am excited to see where this journey takes me. 

Steven L., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

A picture of Kaitlin H., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

As a first-year graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Molloy, I am not only gaining a great deal of knowledge related to the counseling profession, but I am also challenged to think critically and reflect on my own skills and capabilities as a counselor-in-training. I am excited to attend class every week just to see what I will be learning next. Every existential exercise we've performed thus far in Dr. Wood's counseling theories class has given me a greater understanding of the therapeutic approach in action, as well as a greater understanding of myself; especially Gestalt's empty chair technique. I am also greatly appreciative of how supportive and encouraging the professors, faculty, staff, and peers are in this program. Despite any obstacles that may arise throughout this journey, it is nice to know that we are all in this together. It is truly incredible for me to be a part of such an outstanding, enjoyable program that will ultimately advance my interests in the mental health career field and help me to develop professionally into a competent, successful counselor. I am looking forward to what is to come and continue this process of self-discovery.

Kaitlin H., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

Picture of Tina D., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

My name is Tina and I am so grateful to be part of the CMHC program at Molloy College. As a first year student I feel I could not have chosen a better option for myself. It took me some time to really decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and already, I am extremely satisfied with my choice. I have worked with children and adolescents with special needs for a large portion of my life and that really made me realize what I feel I was meant to do. It has influenced me to move forward to get my masters in clinical mental health counseling and continue working with individuals with special needs as well as others struggling with different issues in their life.

Every week, I always look forward to going to class and expanding my knowledge. It's a great feeling to be interested in something I am extremely passionate about, as well as being in a comfortable and welcoming environment. The staff in this program is incredible. They bring so much energy to the class and have effective learning strategies that always keep me engaged. In addition, I have received so much support and encouragement from them and that is very important to me. Aside from the staff being great and the classes being extremely interesting, I feel this program is already having a very positive effect on me. I have really broken out of my shell in such a short period of time and it feels incredible. I already notice how much I am growing as a person and will continue to. I feel like I've been challenged in a positive way and I am discovering news things about myself every day. My cohort is another significant reason why this journey has been so amazing thus far. My classmates are caring and try to help each other out whenever they can. I feel very comfortable around them and I love watching them grow as well as myself. To me this is very inspirational. It is a huge privilege for me to be part of the CMHC program and I'm so thankful and I am truly excited to continue this wonderful journey and see where it takes me.

Tina D., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

Picture of Dani B., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

I lean into the simple magic of this time of year. Whether it's baking bread from scratch, honoring my cat via (this extremely lifelike!) pumpkin portrait, or getting lost in an apple orchard, for me Halloween is a time to honor ourselves through self care and little bits of everyday magic.

Dani B., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

Winsome R., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

My name is Winsome Rodney, and I am happy to be in the CMHC program. I love making people laugh, but becoming a comedian was not an option for me, so this was my alternative route! I am a mother to a wonderful 9 year-old whose name is Nyshia. She has inspired me to turn my life around and go back to school. My daughter is my everything. It is just the two of us, and she even helps me when it comes to my schoolwork. For example, she loves asking me what I learned in school on a particular day, and if she doesn't understand the topic,she asks me to explain it to her.Talking to her about what I learned in school helps me to see how much I have learned already in only one year of being in this program. Despite the daily challenge involved in juggling working, being a mother, and trying to find spare time to do homework, I love being in graduate school. What's making this journey even more interesting and motivational is meeting all of the other students in my class and all of the professors in the department. All of these new and exciting people are so supportive and caring for one another throughout this journey. I can't wait to see what lies ahead for me in this program and beyond!

Winsome R., CMHC Graduate Student, 3rd Cohort

Ashley A., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

"Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears. It is a remedy- a tonic, orange juice for the ears."-Oliver Sacks

My name is Ashley, and when I'm not in class, I work as a music therapist, and I love what I do! It wasn't always this way though. When I was in high school trying to decide what I would want to go to college for, my mom came home one day and asked me: "Have you ever heard of music therapy?" Well, like most people, I hadn't, so I did some research and fell in love. There is nothing more exciting than relating to people through music and using that music to help them grow, process, grieve and improve. I then chose to get my master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to really improve my verbal processing skills which will better allow me to help people who truly need it. I have been encouraged by my clinical mental health counseling professors to incorporate music therapy into some of my student counseling field work with clients. I have been exploring this by using rhythm exercises in our group counseling sessions with children at a local school. The clients have really enjoyed having another outlet to express their feelings. I am planning to continue adding music activities into my counseling sessions. It's hard to believe that I am in my second year of graduate school now in the CMHC program. The skills I am gaining through this program are helping me to become the best therapist I can be and I'm so glad to be taking this journey!

Ashley A., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

Kathy T., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

My first year as a CMHC student has come with challenges and discovery. At the beginning of our first semester, both Dr. Wood and Dr. Kestemberg expressed how crucial it was for students to seek out their own therapy. They shared that being in your own therapy allows you to be on the "other side of the chair" as well as work towards finding balance as a graduate student. Believing I was in good health, both mentally and physically, I put it off. However, the more we learned about the importance of self-care and self-knowledge, I recognized I needed to do some of my own work.

Throughout my life, whenever a friend needed me, I was always willing to drop whatever I had going on to help them. On the surface, this seems like a good thing, but there was a problem: I ended up neglecting myself. However, I am beginning to change this pattern. The support and encouragement I received from both my professors and the students in my cohort has truly been invaluable. No matter how defeated I felt, no one ever let me quit or give up on myself. After only one year, the motivation I received from my peers along with the help of my therapist, have improved my quality of life in every way. I believe I have made so much progress and even though I still have work to do, I am beginning to become comfortable finding my own happiness, and being comfortable with it being separate from everyone else's.

It is still hard to believe I am a second-year student in Molloy's CMHC program; to say we have accomplished A LOT in this short period would be an understatement. While painful at times, this experience has solidified, in my mind, how important a role I will one day play in the lives of my clients. I cannot thank Molloy CMHC enough for allowing me the privilege to be a part of this incredible program and am inspired to see where it will take me.

Kathy T., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

April 2017

Brian B., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort

I am a human... of Molloy College. I attend Molloy for its Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and the esteemed staff of professionals that simultaneously run the program, look out for our wellness as students/people, and train us to be the best counselor's available out in the field. I came to Molloy for my masters because it offers outstanding education and under part-time circumstances which helps folks like me achieve our dreams despite needing to work a 9-5 while we strive towards the future we crave.

For me, Molloy is everything I could ask for, because when I say 9-5, I say it very loosely. I work as an Assistant Store Manager for a popular grocery store chain on Long Island and generally work almost 80 hours a week. I work hard but my university helps me stay on track through Molloy, and the CMHC department. They guided me so I could excel despite tough times and a lifestyle that leaves little in the way of free time. They make me feel strong and capable enough to accomplish my goals even with the weight of life and all its surprises ends up on my shoulders. Beyond my capacity as a student, The CMHC department staff have helped me better myself as a person by boosting my confidence, cultivating self-discovery, and assisting in improving my time management competency tenfold. They truly care, when I think I'm down and out, they pick me back up and help me prove to myself that I have what it takes. You're not just another student with Molloy, your success is synonymous with their own and they will do everything to help you become the best version of yourself you can be. Be that academically, professionally, and/or socially.

I am a rock climber, hiker, and generally outdoorsy person but I also enjoy social gatherings, plays, movies and other types of entertainment. The campus here is always alive with different events that span any sort of hobby you could imagine. The closeness of the community and smaller class sizes not only result in a smoother educational environment but also make it very simple to make friends and find fun activities at any given time, parties, giveaways, contests, you name it, all on a beautiful campus. Ok, I'll admit it, I'm also an avid gamer, I just love all sorts of games even if I don't have much time to play. This is just another reason to love Molloy, there's clubs for all types of personalities/lifestyles that you can join which add to that sense of community and truly make you appreciate your time spent here...and can also help you get that little bit of extra gaming in in between classes if you're anything like me.

I take everything I do very seriously and academic achievement is no different, so I shoot for the top or not at all. I'm personally speaking for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program but believe the hype, this college will get you to that top level which has become a necessity in the current job market. That said there's something for everyone here, even if you're just looking to broaden your horizons and learn something new just for the betterment of your own intellect. You can find your potential here, really surprise yourself, and discover what you're capable of with the right environment. Come check us out, you won't regret it.     

Brian B., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort 

March 2017

Daniel W., CMHC Graduate Student - 1st Cohort

I never know how to start these types of things. Who am I? How has clinical mental health counseling affected life? A short story comes to mind. It was about 5 years ago, making me 19 years old. I was in a class about multicultural communication and the professor asked everyone to introduce themselves and something they identify with. I listened as people said their names and identified with different races, college majors, careers and the like. When my turn came, it wasn't until I started speaking that I knew what I would say. "My name is Daniel Woods and I am a human being." I felt nervous saying it but nothing sounded more authentic at the time. The professor made a joke about it, the class laughed, a friend of mine provided a few words of affirmation and then the moment was over.

I have tried to be mindful of the similarities between myself and others and identify with humanity for many years. I have found that intending to understand and experience that which connects me to others provides a deeply satisfying sense of purpose but also invariably means recognizing the suffering that stems from a pervasive sense of separation, from others and from our core self, which permeates our world. Pursuing a career in clinical mental health counseling is one way that I try to help repair the rifts between people, within people, and of course, within myself. After almost two years of being a member of the CMHC program I can proudly say that I have acquired a variety of practical skills for helping people to help themselves as well as learning how to have greater self-compassion, something which I used to struggle with intensely.

Counselors need self-compassion to do their job well but it is something that most people struggle with at some point in their lives. For this reason I want to share some lyrics written by my favorite band which help me to remember to love myself whenever I hear them:

A wise voice appears Supporting me
"Trust, trust..
With love
Embrace what you are,
If you can't accept yourself,
Who will?"

Affected by the magnitude of these words
I understand it
I deeply feel it
Embrace myself
All the pieces
Shadow and light
Is the only way to the inner release

Band: Persefone
Song: Inner Release
Album: Spiritual Migration

Daniel W., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort

February 2017

Theresa K., CMHC Department Administrative Assistant

I have taken many paths in my life. Paths that lead across the world, into classrooms, under seas, through realms of creativity and in and out of many lives. I've focused on the scenery at hand, enjoyed the views, loved the people and plucked the fruits of inspiration that lined every path. Still, I saw nothing in my future. No destination to navigate toward. 

Since my time at CMHC my path has become more and more clear. I watch the force that is the CMHC faculty pour every drop of energy into creating the greatest possible program and passionately guiding their students down their individual paths. I watch CMHC students volunteer, gather, engage every opportunity presented and pour every drop of energy into ensuring that they will be the compassionate counselors our communities need. 
I watch as all my own paths begin to entwine and a destination finally begins to take form.

I am a human inspired by CMHC at Molloy College.

Theresa K., CMHC Department Administrative Assistant

I've always been interested in the intersection between mental health and the arts. In my final (at least until graduation!)Chicago theater project called GENDER BREAKDOWN, I talked to over 220 female theater artists and wove their stories into play that explores both personal struggles and triumphs. For years, I've been exploring the power of storytelling on stage with women of all ages--but now as a CMHC masters student I'm able to gain greater awareness, theory and understanding behind why sharing ones story (both onstage and off) is so transformative. I'm excited for the powerful possibilities ahead!

Dani B., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

December 2016

Liz P., CMHC Graduate Student - 2nd Cohort

After completing my first semester at Molloy, I won an award from the department that said I was most likely to publish a paper before graduation. As honored as I was to receive it, I couldn't help but feel a little bittersweet about it. It was only back in early August that I had pretty much given up on getting into an advanced degree program; I had gotten rejection after rejection, and needless to say, my self-esteem took a big hit. I would go as far as to say it was a miracle I called Molloy's admissions department on the day that I did. I was shuffled around for quite a few minutes, but eventually Dr. Kestemberg invited me in for an interview, and the rest is history.

As high up as I feel right now, I have of course had my low points throughout this semester. I have a history of panic attacks and severe anxiety, and there have been days when I didn't want to get out of bed and face the newest set of anxiety provoking situations that the day had planned for me. With that being said, though, there has never been a day when I didn't want to go to class. This program has inspired me not only to continue to love to take care of and help other people in need, but to take care of myself as well. That's why this winter break, I am focusing on myself again, something I haven't done in too long, and I could not be more excited. Who knows, maybe I'll still be able to pull off this move over a year later.

Liz P., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

Kathleen M., CMHC Graduate Student - 2nd Cohort

This is my second time coming to Molloy. It's just as wonderful as the first time. Molloy still has that small school feel despite the larger campus. The CMHC program is not only educational but insightful. After all, isn't that what counseling is all about? We as future counselors need insight into our own beliefs and values. How can we expect this from our clients if we aren't doing it too? I'm proud to be part of newly instituted program and look forward to the process of self-discovery!

Kathleen M., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort

November 2016

Faith S., CMHC Graduate Student - 2nd Cohort

Helping others has always come naturally to me. Growing up with a brother who has autism has inspired me to help others like him and their families as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. When I realized that I wanted to take this path and help others, I knew my Alma Mater Molloy College was the place for me. The individual attention from the professors and the close bond you form with your classmates make the experience an enjoyable and everlasting one. Whenever people ask me questions about where to go to College, I always tell them that Molloy College is the only choice because it is the best one. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Molloy College is one that I know will prepare me to become the best counselor I always hoped to be. 

Faith S., CMHC Graduate Student, 2nd Cohort    

Tatiana M., CMHC Graduate Student - 1st Cohort

Self-Care in the counseling world means to do activities that engage in relaxation or to maintain emotional well-being. This was one of the first things we have learned in our classes. I never had a problem with self-care. I usually was really good at being able to balance life/school responsibilities, my social life, and making time to do things I love (dancing, writing songs, acting, and recording music). Even throughout my first year of graduate school I was still able to balance everything out and maintain a great GPA. 

Now that I am in my second year I tackled on more responsibilities because I felt that i could handle them since I was doing so well my first year. I have been balancing life and school responsibilities well but I felt that I was not myself. I am usually really bubbly and friendly and started to feel that float away. I became more quiet and reserved and a little bit irritable. I was in my group therapy class and one of my classmates asked me how I was doing and how I did not seem like myself. I expressed that I did not want to share about what was going on with me and that same classmate asked me if I was taking care of myself. 

It was not until that moment that I realized, wow the reason I did not feel like myself was because I have not had the time to do things that I love. I shared that with the group and the professor asked if I would like to express my feelings through dance to group. Of course I was nervous and had a fear of being judged but I took the opportunity. I am so grateful that my professor was willing to create that creative space for me because she knew that I really needed to express myself in a different way than using words. 

The response from my classmates was amazing. After that class that same week I made a decision that I would take a couple of dance classes to ground myself and to be in touch with who I am. I have now vowed to never put the things I love to do on the back burner and to always make time for them. That was a very valuable lesson for me.
Tatiana M., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort

For as long as I can remember, people have told me time and time again how of a great listener I am. So I always think of a big ear when it comes to being a listener. The funny thing is that I actually have small ears compared to the ratios of my face, it's okay, I like my little elf ears! And, I also have a hearing disability but through intensive speech therapy and hearing aids, I am able to hear just as well. 

To become a counselor, one needs to be an empathetic listener and that is a gift I can offer to not only my future clients, but to my family and friends. I remember that when I was going through depression in high school, I knew I had to seek out a professional, most of all, an empathetic listener. My therapist was this powerful force who not only listened and validated me, but he truly believed that I had something to offer to the world. And so, with my little ears, I want to tell the world that I am all ears to listen to you; your narratives, your perspectives, and help you realize that by me listening, you matter!
Tiare M., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort 

Lori M., CMHC Graduate Student - 1st Cohort

Many people ask me how I fit everything in - work, schoolwork, classes, family. It's easy. The faculty have designed a program which allows me to plan my schedule. I have class every Monday night - it's not a guessing game - it's a given. I set aside study time, family time and "me" time. I am supported by my cohort - we study together, meet for dinner, text each other assignments or words of encouragement and we work as a team to make sure we all become great counselors. I'm so proud to be part of this program and I'm proud of my accomplishments too. Thanks to the encouragement of Dr. Kestemberg & Dr. Wood, I've done a poster session at the NY Mental Health Counselor's Association conference and I'm presenting at the American Counselor's Association National conference in March 2017!!

Lori M., CMHC Graduate Student, 1st Cohort


Mental Health Counseling By the Numbers


States offering licensure to

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Practicing, independent, mental health

counselors in the U.S.


Projected job growth over the next

8 years


Certified, licensed and practing mental

health professionals in N.Y.

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Dr. Laura Kestemberg
1000 Hempstead Avenue Rockville Centre, New York 11571-5002