Counseling Center

Counseling Center Staff 2014-2015

Jacqueline Alvarez is a licensed psychologist and directs the Counseling Center.  She received her BA in psychology and sociology from the University of Notre Dame and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, where after she completed a doctoral internship at the University of Texas at Austin.  Her approach to therapy integrates many theories, and at heart she is a developmentalist who believes strongly in biopsychosocial and systems models. She often works within a solution-focused framework, and draws heavily on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT). Some areas of particular clinical interest include complex intersections of identity, positive psychology, self-esteem and shame, anxiety and perfectionism, depression, couples counseling, and family dysfunction.

Mary Breen is the Office Manager/Administrative Assistant.  She provides administrative assistance to the Counseling Center’s Director and staff. She arranges and schedules appointments for students wishing to utilize the Counseling Center’s services.  Mary will respond to students’, parents’, faculty, staff and administrators’ concerns and inquiries while maintaining confidentiality.  She is available to assist students and outside providers with questions regarding the Amherst College Student Health Insurance.  Mary also assists the Director of Training in coordinating the recruiting of practicum students for each academic year. 

Debra Edelman received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After her clinical internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leeds, MA, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, MA. Her theoretical orientation integrates psychodynamic concepts with cognitive-behavioral techniques, including biofeedback and hypnosis. Her clinical interests include alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety and panic disorders, sexuality and sexual orientation issues, eating disorders and stress management.

Sarah J. Erickson received her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology.  She completed her internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Dr. Erickson has accumulated a broad range of experience having worked in inpatient, community mental health, and college settings.  Her theoretical orientation integrates psychodynamic, developmental, cognitive behavioral, feminist, multicultural, and systems theories; however, she holds firm that the relationship between student and therapist is the most important aspect of therapy.  Dr. Erickson holds particular interest in work that encompasses identity development, adjustment, anxiety, depression, sexual orientation, and disordered eating.

Laura Fusari received her B.A. in Psychology from Amherst College and her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work.  She has experience in hospital, community, residential, and outpatient settings, doing assessments as well as individual, couples, group, and family work. She is particularly interested in issues related to sexual respect and has experience working with trauma, sexual assault, and domestic violence issues. She also enjoys working within a holistic approach to manage issues related to anxiety, depression, self-harm, and chronic mental illness. Her clinical orientation is psychodynamic, holistic, and strengths focused. She also integrates extensive training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) into her work. She enjoys working collaboratively with the individual to self-advocate effectively within larger systems.

Darien McFadden received his BA in psychology and English Literature from Colgate University and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his clinical internship at the University of Massachusetts Mental Health Services, and worked as a psychotherapist at the Amherst College Counseling Center from 1992 to 1998. Following that, Darien worked at the Pioneer Valley Mental Health Clinic  in Springfield, MA. Darien's clinical interests are varied and include sexual orientation, gender and coming-out issues, conflicts around race, culture and ethnicity, male and female body-image issues, stress/anxiety management and trauma.

Bryan Mendiola received his B.F.A. in Painting/Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, then earned his M.A. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver.  He completed his clinical internship at Suffolk University’s Counseling, Health, & Wellness in Boston, MA and his postdoctoral residency at the VA Medical Center in Bedford, MA. With a background in Buddhist Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, Bryan’s specialized training is in mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and exposure treatments for stress, anxiety, and trauma. His primary approach is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), with a holistic focus on mind, body, and cultural context (ie, the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and other social identities).

Zamir Nestelbaum is a licensed psychiatrist. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Nestelbaum has his MD from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an MPH from the University of Michigan. He has held a variety of leadership positions, including chief of Psychiatry at community hospitals. He has spent many years teaching psychiatric residents and medical students. In addition, he has spent his entire career seeing outpatients in various settings, which has included work with college students. Dr. Nestelbaum believes strongly in a biopsychosocial model of treatment that emphasizes that every person is a unique individual. He believes strongly in a collaborative model of treatment with other therapists and specialists.

Deborah A. Potee, a LICSW, has a degree in history form Beloit College, a Masters in Library Science from Simmons College, and a Masters in Social Work from Boston College.  She did her field work at Hello House, a halfway house for men with addictions, and at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.   She has years of experience working as clinician and case manager at Boston Medical Center, the Brattleboro Retreat and at ServiceNet.   Much of her clinical and therapeutic work has been with mentally ill children, young adults and families, in the fields of addiction, trauma, bereavement, attachment and sexual assault.  She is both a state certified sexual assault advocate and a Planned Parenthood sexuality health educator.  She enjoys combining her love of research with her work as a clinical case manager and therapist.  As a former school social worker, she believes in the importance of balancing the stresses of academic success with finding personal, meaningful and authentic engagement with activities beyond the classroom as key to managing one’s mental health.  Her therapeutic approach is primarily CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), solution focused and strengths based.