Counseling Center

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Counseling Center Staff

Please review our bios in order to find a good fit when requesting an initial consultation or outreach. Some of our staff members are also featured in the UNCW Latinx & Hispanic Resource Book by Centro Hispano and The Sankofa Green Book by Upperman African American Cultural Center. 

Staff Bios
Clinical Staff
Photo of Counseling and Testing Director Dr. Perez-Lopez

Mark Perez-Lopez, Ph.D. LP HSP-P

Director of Counseling Center

PerezLopezM@uncw.edu

Responsible for overseeing the general administration of the Counseling Center and University Testing Services.  He received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas.  His theoretical orientation is primarily cognitive behavioral and his treatment methods are also guided by principles of interpersonal process and multicultural competence.  Dr. Perez-Lopez serves as a site visitor for several professional organizations and provides guidance about accreditation standards for training programs in psychology.  His main area of clinical specialization is eating disorders and other areas of interest include working with first responders, risk and threat assessment, and supervision and training.   

Presentation Topics:  How to help a distressed student, Crisis Response and Risk Assessment, Trends in College Mental Health, and Eating Disorders.

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LuAnn Helms, Ph.D. LP HSP-P

Associate Director / Clinical Director

HelmsL@uncw.edu

LuAnn is responsible for coordinating clinical services and assisting the Director in administrative duties. She received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas A&M University. She conceptualizes clients mostly from the Multimodal Therapy perspective and her therapeutic interventions are eclectic, but predominately cognitive behavioral. Her areas of interest include: resiliency and wellness; identity development; anger, anxiety, and stress management; mindfulness; emotion regulation; relationships; therapist training and supervision; and program development.

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Nancy Blackwell, Ph.D. 

Staff Psychologist

blackwelln@uncw.edu

Nancy provides counseling and consultation services to individual students and groups.  She earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington and completed her pre-doctoral internship at UNC-Chapel Hill Counseling & Psychological Services.  Nancy takes an integrative, relational approach to therapy that incorporates mindfulness, self-compassion, and cognitive-behavioral techniques, and focuses on the role of interpersonal relationships and sociocultural factors in shaping individual experiences and worldviews.  Nancy’s professional interests include: mindfulness and meditation, identity development, relational concerns, trauma, group therapy, and prevention-oriented outreach. 

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Chelsey Couch, Ph.D.
Staff Clinician
Chelsey provides counseling to individuals, couples, and groups. She obtained her doctoral degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Tennessee Student Counseling Center. Chelsey’s approach to therapy is rooted in Relational-Cultural Theory, and she strives to create a trusting and collaborative therapeutic space. She considers how one’s unique cultural context and lived experiences shape mental well-being, particularly family dynamics and relationships. Chelsey’s areas of interest include: LGBTQ+ identity development, relational concerns, depression, body image, self-compassion, and existential/spiritual concerns.

Michelle Deinish, Staff Counselor

Michele Deinish, M.S., LCMHC, NCC

Staff Counselor- In Harmony Programs Coordinator

deinishm@uncw.edu

Michele provides counseling to individuals, groups, and couples. She also coordinates the Counseling Center's In Harmony Programs- workshops and programs that emphasize the importance of balancing the mind, body, and spirit. Her areas of interest include mind-body-spirit initiatives, stress and anxiety management, mindfulness, meditation, and assisting students with living a balanced, passionate, and meaningful life. Michele obtained her Master's degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University in Maryland.

Presentation Topics: Mindfulness & Meditation, Heart-Centered Breathing, Getting a Good Night's Sleep, Managing Your Emotions, Self-Esteem, Distress Tolerance, Progressive Relaxation, Life in Balance, Stress & Anxiety Management, and Counseling Center services.

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Erika McCullough-Simpson, M.A., LPA

Staff Counselor - Clinical Resources Coordinator

SimpsonE@uncw.edu

Erika provides counseling and consultation services to individual students. In addition, she is responsible for connecting students with off-campus referrals and coordinating community resources. Her interests include trauma, anxiety and stress, depression, and self-esteem. She obtained her master's degree in clinical and community psychology from UNC Charlotte.

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Cora Powers, Ph.D.

Staff Psychologist 

powersc@uncw.edu

Cora provides counseling and consultation services to individual students, couples, and groups. She obtained her doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Tennessee Student Counseling Center. She uses an integrative strengths-based approach to therapy, conceptualizing from schema and interpersonal theories, while utilizing interventions from emotion-focused, interpersonal, and cognitive behavioral theories. Her main areas of clinical specialization are sport & performance and anxiety-related concerns. Other areas of interest include trauma recovery and resiliency, relationships, self-worth, and spirituality.

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Karissa Rizzolino, Psy.D.

Staff Clinician

rizzolinok@uncw.edu 

Karissa provides individual and group therapy services. She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Chestnut HIll College in Philadelphia, PA and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Karissa takes an integrative approach to therapy, conceptualizing from psychodynamic and interpersonal theories while implementing cognitive-behavioral and emotion-focused techniques. She emphasizes the relationship between the therapist and client, attends to multicultural factors, and draws upon the client's strengths. Professional interests include stress and anxiety management, relationship and adjustment difficulties, identity development, and self-compassion.

 

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Justine Diener O'Leary, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow

dienerolearyj@uncw.edu 

Justine provides counseling and consultation services to individual students and groups. She earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed her pre-doctoral internship at Vanderbilt University Counseling Center. Justine takes a person-centered and feminist approach that incorporates mindfulness, self-compassion, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. Justine strives to create a safe and collaborative space for clients to explore individual, systemic, and contextual factors related to their concerns and to build skills to make meaningful change in their lives. Her areas of interest include: trauma and sexual and interpersonal violence, anxiety-related concerns, social justice, identity development and exploration, body image and eating concerns, and outreach and prevention.

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Ron Galloway, MA.Ed., LCMHC-A, NCC

Contract Staff Counselor

GallowayR@uncw.edu

Ron provides counseling and consultation services to individual students. Ron uses an eclectic approach to therapy, using solution-focused techniques, as well as cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral informed therapeutic approaches. Ron enjoys working with the college population. Some of his specific interests include assisting students with issues concerning anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, multicultural issues, problem-solving skills, and career guidance.

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Andrea Straughter, MSW, LCSW

Contract Staff Counselor

StraughterA@uncw.edu

Andrea provides counseling and consultation services to individual students.Andrea works primarily from the models of strengths-based solution focused therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. She loves to incorporate art activities and relaxation strategies into treatment. Her interests include empowering her clients, relationships, anxiety, and managing life's everyday stressors. Andrea received her Master's degree in clinical social work from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Administrative Staff
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Tammy Haraga

Office Manager

haragat@uncw.edu

Tammy is the Office Manager for the Counseling Center. Her primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to, monthly budget reports, processing office travel requests, outreach advertising, and bank statement reconciliation. She has been a UNCW employee since 2000.

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Peyton Gootee

Receptionist

gooteep@uncw.edu

Peyton is the receptionist for the Counseling Center. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.