Counseling Center

Counseling Center Staff 2014-2015

Ira Addes is a psychiatric consultant. A diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as well as the American Board of Internal Medicine, he was educated at Brooklyn College and received his M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed a three-year internal medicine residency at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, and practiced internal medicine for four years prior to returning for his training in psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Medical Center. He has extensive experience working with survivors of childhood trauma and abuse as well as individuals with concomitant medical concerns. He believes strongly in the biopsychosocial model, and maintains a strong interest in the integration of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.

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.

Ruth Kane-Levit is a psychologist who joined the staff at the Amherst College Counseling Center in 1993.  She received her undergraduate education at Brown University and Simmons College, a Masters in Counseling Psychology at Harvard University, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the Derner Institute of Adelphi University.  She went on to a clinical internship at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Hospital site and a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University Mental Health Service.  Her fundamental approach is psychodynamic and insight-oriented.  She also integrates mindfulness, CBT, and Somatic Experiencing modalities with a focus on facilitating self-awareness and self-regulation along emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physiologic dimensions.  Her particular clinical interests include eating disorders, anxiety, depression, struggles with self-esteem and relationship issues, and women’s psychological development.

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.

Zamir Nestelbaum is a psychiatric consultant. 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.

George Phillips is a psychologist who completed his B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania and his Psy.D. at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He joined the Amherst College Counseling Center staff in 2002. He trained at the Brandeis University Counseling Center and in the Behavioral Medicine Program at Cambridge Hospital. He brings a well-informed, eclectic approach to his work at the Counseling Center. His professional interests are far-ranging and include the nature of the psychotherapeutic process, the history of psychoanalytic theory, the integration of theoretical approaches in psychotherapy, sexual development in relationships and a general focus on issues of race, class, culture and politics in individual development.

Jennifer Schmidt received her BA from Purdue University and is currently a third year Master’s student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Antioch University New England.  She completed her first graduate practicum in counseling at Morningside Shelter in Brattleboro, Vermont.  Jennifer approaches counseling with a foundation in humanistic psychology and person-centered therapy.  Her clinical perspective includes conceptualizing individual client needs both singly and also within their systems to facilitate growth and development.  Jennifer’s interests are diverse and include working with anxiety and depression, crisis and trauma, personality functioning and disorder, childhood issues and also advocacy.