Hands-on Training for Counseling Psych Grad Students

Group of Graduate Students

Felician College students are getting first-hand experience in working with an underserved population – and truly embodying the Franciscan values of solidarity with the poor, compassion and service as they explore the pathways of their chosen profession.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Felician Sisters and dedicated support from faculty, Felician College’s Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology program is enabling its students to attain the necessary hands-on training to prepare for their careers as licensed mental health professionals.

“Our students have been doing incredible work and have developed a program offering counseling to groups and individuals who would not be able to receive help,” said Dr. Peter Economou who supervises the program. “We are very excited about these programs and I’m proud of our students for their efforts and hard work.”

Currently, six graduate students in the MACP program are offering clinical mental health services at several locations throughout the area.

Working with diverse populations within society, Felician students are developing critical and analytical thinking skills as well as learning to identify patterns of behavior and articulate treatment plans for patients.

“This program has opened many doors for me, as we have the opportunity to challenge ourselves while helping the underserved community of Bergen and Hudson counties,” said Marcela Farfan, who is completing her internship work at the Franciscan Community Development Center’s mental health center, which has locations in Fairview and West New York. “We offer counseling to families, children and adolescents. I chose this career because I wanted to help others. Coming to Felician was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Other students are gaining experience at the Felician School for Exceptional Children and Immaculate Conception High School, both located on the College’s Lodi campus, and with residents at St. Lucy’s Homeless Shelter in Jersey City. Counseling is offered in English, Spanish and Arabic.

“Ninety percent of the clients I work with are Hispanic,” said Ana Maria Idarraga. “I am happy for the opportunity to help people in my own language, who do not otherwise have the means to acquire these types of services.”

Dr. Economou said in addition to the classroom work, the goal of the program is to “instill within our students our Franciscan values of a love of learning, a commitment to service, and respect for all,” adding that “this empowers our graduates to bring a high level of professionalism and humanity to the people and groups they serve.”

Dr. Economou said he is grateful for the support of the Felician Sisters in backing this important program.

“As part of the grant we were able to purchase items for these centers, including file cabinets, computers, a copier and other items necessary to run a center,” he said. “None of it would be possible without the Felician Sisters.”

Dr. Economou recently received the Distinguished Service Award of the New Jersey Counseling Association. He was nominated by his students.

“The students inspire me to be a better clinician and instructor,” said Dr. Economou.