Photo by Asyrique Thevendran/The Gazelle

Increase in Counseling Services on Campus

On May 4, the Dean of Students Kyle Farley announced, in a campus-wide email, that the Student Health and Wellness Center would now be fully staffed, ...

May 7, 2016

Photo by Asyrique Thevendran/The Gazelle
On May 4, the Dean of Students Kyle Farley announced, in a campus-wide email, that the Student Health and Wellness Center would now be fully staffed, with three counselors available for students.
Dr. Rami Nizar Alshihabi will work as the new Director of the New York University Abu Dhabi Counseling Center. Dr. Vedrana Mladina and Virginie Riviere Mebarek joined the center to work as Wellness Counselors.
Dr. Alshihabi has previously worked as a Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center, where he also headed the Psychology Department. Dr. Mladina joins NYUAD after working as a clinical psychologist for the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Mebarek, like Dr. Alshihabi, has previously worked at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center.
The additions to the Health and Wellness counseling team mean that students can now expect shorter wait times for appointments. In many cases, students can receive a same-day or next-day appointment with a professional counselor. As before, students with an urgent need for a counselor are seen for an appointment on the same day .
For many students, these additions to the counseling staff are a welcome step for a university that has repeatedly espoused its commitment to the mental wellness of students.
“Having three counselors on staff is considerable progress. I feel more comfortable knowing that should I need to see a counselor, I can make an appointment without having to wait,” commented senior Nino Cricco.
Previously, NYUAD students have raised concerns about the size of the counseling team at Health and Wellness. In fall 2014, Health and Wellness had only one counselor available for students on campus. During this time, some students reported having to wait for weeks to receive an appointment.
In fall 2015 Health and Wellness had two counselors available on campus. This addition to the counseling team meant a decrease in wait time; students with routine appointments were typically seen within a few days of their request.
Student perception of a lack of counselors on campus has often been at odds with counselor availability. Cricco noted that some students may be reluctant to seek counseling due to their belief that appointments are either fully booked, or because they feel that other students need the resources more.
The NYUAD administration has previously attributed the lack of available counselors to difficulties experienced with the licensing process in the UAE.
Licensing for counselors in Abu Dhabi is conducted by the Abu Dhabi Health Authority, an organization independent of NYU. Current licensing procedures mean that health professionals who are licensed to work in one emirate are not licensed to work in others.
Requirements for a license include a minimum of two years experience, a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and either a Master’s or Doctoral Degree with a focus in psychology. While the time taken to receive a medical license officially ranges from one week to 40 days, the process can often take longer.

booking an appointment with a counselor

Counselors are available for appointments from Sunday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Health and Wellness. Appointments can be made by calling +971-2-628-8124, walking in or emailing Appointments made via phone or walk-in are preferred.
For students requiring support after hours, the Wellness Exchange is available 24/7 at +971-2-628-5555 or 85555 from a campus line.
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