Best Practice Begins With Presence

By Daniel Woods

mental health counseling photo

Think of a person in one of your classes. Maybe it’s a friend you know well or someone you’ve barely spoken to. Now imagine the two of you sitting in front of each other without breaking eye contact for two minutes. Does this sound uncomfortable? It is, and my classmates and I can testify to that. Each of us experienced the discomfort of being present and making prolonged eye contact on a regular basis last winter in a graduate clinical mental health counseling class called Foundational Skills in Counseling.

You might be wondering what is so important about making eye contact. Aren’t the basic skills used in counseling techniques like active listening and being empathetic? Yes, but even more foundational is the counselor’s ability to use their body to effectively connect with the client. With this understanding as motivation, Professor Wood set up a variety of exercises to get us in touch with our bodies before we learned how to say anything to our future clients. We practiced making eye contact and observing how it felt. We practiced grounding ourselves by doing walking exercises as a group. We would march, tiptoe, and side-step around the room in a procession. We practiced attuning to another person by partnering up and mirroring each other’s actions and listening to our partners’ stories then acting them out using our whole bodies.

The resulting transformation from these exercises and others was highly apparent. We started off as most anyone would, feeling nervous and fidgety, but as we practiced we became calmer and connected to each other like no other class I’ve ever been in. With this newfound presence to ground us, we dove headfirst into more challenging exercises which would have surely been much more difficult without the previous training. We would get into groups and role play; one person would be the counselor, one the client, and one the witness. This structure was used to practice techniques such as listening and reflecting back feelings and content, making empathic responses, and asking different types of questions. When we role-played as a client, we were asked to be vulnerable and share our feelings in regard to different prompts. The witness would watch and give constructive feedback to the counselor-in-training after each exercise. In this fashion we slowly but steadily improved our ability to connect with ourselves, each other, and ultimately with our clients. We came to understand how important it is to form a bond of trust with a client and how influential both speech and body language is.

All of the theoretical knowledge a counselor acquires will likely go to waste if a client does not feel connected to the counselor. A counselor must know how to actually be present with the client and do it. Getting into the shared space and being open to what’s already there is where the work starts. Fortunately for us in the program, this message is not only taught to us but also embodied by all our professors. Whether it was the aforementioned class with Professor Wood, Developmental Theories with Professor Seaman, or Psychopathology with Professor Kestemberg, each professor interacts with us in an open and genuinely caring fashion. This is most evident when we have struggles in the classroom, work, or at home, and they do everything they can to help us prevail. While the course content is essential to our education, I believe we can also learn to be better counselors by following the example of our compassionate professors.

Image courtesy of Daniel Woods.

My Unforgettable Experience in the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Fellowship Program

By Kristen Ponticelli

oncology fellowship

Last summer, Molloy nursing students Lauren Henry, Patricia Mele, Kelly Anne Murphy and I had the honor of participating in the Susan D. Flynn Oncology Fellowship Program. The program was started by Mr. Fred Flynn after his beautiful wife Susan lost her battle to ovarian cancer. Mr. Flynn was touched by how wonderful his wife’s nurses were and wanted to create a program to pave the way for future oncology nurses. His fellowship places future oncology nurses onto oncology floors to encourage hands-on learning.

We spent 6 weeks on oncology floors in either New York Presbyterian Columbia or Weill Cornell. Working 37.5 hours a week, we followed a nurse preceptor and were able to learn more than we could have ever imagined. We also spent one week in hospice home care and one week in Calvary Hospital. At the conclusion of the program, we created and presented an evidence-based project.

I was placed at Weill Cornell on 10N, a medical oncology unit. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming and was more than willing to share their knowledge with me. I worked alongside my nurse preceptor, who explained everything to me, asked me questions to test my knowledge, and answered any questions that I had. I was able to learn more than I could have ever imagined working one-on-one with my nurse preceptor. My preceptor gave me advice about time management, organizing my day and how to comfort patients and their families. She always looked out for opportunities for me to observe something that I hadn’t seen before.

During my internship, I was able to interact and care for many amazing and inspiring people who just happened to be my patients. I was able to hold their hands when their families could not be there. I was able to sit down with them and talk to them about anything that they wanted. Some wanted to vent, others spoke about their families, and some just wanted to tell me about their journey that led them to where they were that day. I had one patient who told me his personal story from the time he was diagnosed with cancer to the fight he had put up that led him to where he was that day. I will never forget these conversations and all of the patients will never know how much they have impacted me.

Molloy nursing students are beyond lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of Mr. Flynn’s fellowship program. I could never thank him and the wonderful staff at both Molloy and New York Presbyterian enough for making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible for us.

For any nursing students here at Molloy who aspire to be oncology nurses and are passionate about doing so, I strongly suggest applying to be a part of this fellowship program. You will not regret it!

Image courtesy of Kristen Ponticelli. 

Why I Chose Molloy

By Anna Risolo

molloy dorm

The college decision did not come easily for me. I attended a community college close to home for a year and a half. Then, I considered attending the University of West Florida, Queens College, LIU Post, and even a university in Connecticut.

I never looked at Molloy College, until one day when I went to visit my best friend Megan at school on my break for lunch. I pulled into the parking lot of Molloy and noticed the small-town feeling of this campus. I found a parking spot close to the building and entered the Public Square. Megan showed me around her campus and pointed out some of the hang-out spots. At first, I thought the campus was small and there was not much going on. Oh, was I mistaken! I came back a couple of times. I wasn’t sure why I felt compelled to come back so much, but somehow I found myself there every Tuesday afternoon. I started to notice the one-on-one tutoring sessions, the professors sitting in the same dining area as the students, and the kindness of everyone around me.

Seeing such a warm and open place made me feel comfortable. And given the hard time I had adjusting to college at first, comfortable was exactly what I needed. I started researching my program and began to send emails and make phone calls to receive more information about the school. Eventually, I decided to send in my application. After all, what was the worst that could happen? I could simply decide not to go, but a part of me already felt like I belonged at Molloy.

I received my acceptance a week or two before Spring 2016 classes began. Excitement overwhelmed me. At that instant, I knew I found a place that would welcome and support me during my time at the College. Telling my mother that I wanted to go to Molloy was interesting. She had never heard me speak of the school, but even she thought it was clearly a great choice.

As it would turn out, I was born at Mercy Hospital, just behind Molloy College. My grandfather and grandmother were also taken care of at that hospital. Many signs pointed to me ending up at this campus. During my registration, I was welcomed with nothing but smiles and warmth. For a school I had no intention of even researching, I wouldn’t have wanted to end up anywhere else.

Image courtesy of Anna Risolo.

Division of Education at Molloy: First Impressions of Phase I

By Danielle Miller


I’m not sure if the same goes for my fellow Molloy Lions, but I think the spring semester has definitely gotten off to an exciting start. As I am a junior, I have started Phase I of the Education Program (FINALLY).

Phase I, though it is the first and supposedly the easiest of the three phases, can be described in one word: overwhelming. It has certainly been a huge reality check learning of all of the coursework I need to complete, along with the state-mandated certification and professional workshops I am required to attend. Oh, and 30 hours of field observations, too! All of a sudden, my peers and I are doing so many responsible, adult things. I would be lying if I said I was completely relaxed and pretty chill about it all. I’m actually internally freaking out every second of every day, but at the same exact time, I am so excited.

It’s been amazing to finally be observing in an actual school. I observe two hours a week, so it’s not stressful at all. In fact, it’s honestly a great way to end my week of classes and de-stress. I love being able to see the way teachers interact with their students and paying attention to small details I normally wouldn’t notice. My Education courses have opened my eyes to aspects of the classroom environment, teacher-student relationships, and student behaviors that I was not aware of just one month ago. Making connections between the real world and what I am learning in my classes is becoming a reality.

Everything is finally starting to come around full circle. I am incredibly thankful that I have the chance to receive an education that will allow me to fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher. It has only been about one month into the semester (and Phase I), but I am completely back into school mode already. It usually takes me longer than this to get back into the groove of school once a new semester starts, but something about this semester is different—I am actually excited about what I am learning for the first time in my college career. I’m looking forward to the additional opportunities that will come my way during the remainder of this semester, and I am grateful to Molloy for providing me with them.

Image via Wikimedia.

Why I Chose Music Therapy as My Major

By Bethany Lindeblad

Bethany singing
When people ask me why I chose to go to school for music therapy, I always hesitate. I could tell them about all of the challenges I’ve faced and overcome in my lifetime and how music has helped me through those times. I could tell them how much happiness making music brings me. I could also tell them how happy it makes me to see others experience the same kind of joy I experience through music. The truth is that I could talk forever about why I chose to make a career out of music. There are so many reasons, all with stories behind them that all contributed to my decision. But when people ask me, I still have a hard time answering. It’s not because I don’t have an answer, but because I have so many answers to that one question, and I’m not sure that people always want the lengthiest, most serious one. So I thought about it for a long time and I tried to come up with an answer that isn’t too much, isn’t too vague, and that (hopefully) everyone can relate to in some way.

In the duration of the eighteen years I’ve been alive, I’ve come to realize that there aren’t many constants in life. Everything is changing all around, even though we may not realize it in that instant. The population of the world is always fluctuating, economies are shifting, civilizations have come and gone, governments have changed, laws have changed and are still changing, technology and medicine continue to become more and more advanced. People grow up, people move away, friends come and go – aside from your closest ones. Your interests change, your style changes, your personality may even change. Sometimes I think that the only constant in life is change. But I realize that there is at least one more constant in my life. Music. No matter what, music is something that will always be there for you. It doesn’t ever get mad at you, disappointed in you, or bored of you. In fact, if you ever get bored of it, there’s always another instrument, genre, or song for you to try. And that’s why I chose music therapy as my major. Because music is an age-old source of love and emotion. It’s a language that anyone and everyone can speak. It is powerful and healing, and as corny as it sounds, there is something truly magical about music. If you don’t mind, I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I feel perfectly sums up the way I feel about music:

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.” – Hannah Harrington, Saving June.

Until next time! -Bethany

Image courtesy of Bethany Lindeblad.