Meet the Staff

Professional Counseling Staff 

 

Ross J. Rapaport, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Director

 Ross has provided counseling services to college students in university counseling centers for 34 years. Since 2000 he has been director of the Central Michigan University Counseling Center. In his counseling work with college students Ross uses a holistic, cognitive behavioral, strength based and solution focused approach.  The counseling issues he works with include, though are not limited to: adjustment, stress, anxiety, depression, mental health, grief and loss, substance abuse, procrastination, academic difficulties, career indecision and planning, LGBTQ concerns, and relationship problems.  Ross believes the counselor’s role is to help individuals identify their own goals, build on their strengths, learn from their experiences and strengthen coping and problem solving skills.  Prior to coming to CMU in 1983 he completed an American Psychological Association approved pre-doctoral counseling internship at The Ohio State University’s Counseling and Consultation Services and worked for three years as a Senior Staff Psychologist at the University of Iowa’s Counseling Services. Education: B.A. Social Sciences, Michigan State University; M.A., Ph.D. Psychology (Industrial / Organizational with a minor in Counseling Psychology) from The Ohio State University.

 

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Michelle Bigard, MSW, LMSW
Assistant Director

Michelle considers it an honor to meet with students to make their lives more manageable and fulfilling.  She believes in the person’s capacity to grow and change and acknowledges the various physical, psychological, social , emotional, spiritual and cultural dimensions that make each student unique.    She draws upon students inherent strengths and encourages the use and/or enhancement of their problem solving abilities, creativity, social and family networks, access to resources, coping skills and values and beliefs to make desired change in their lives.  In an atmosphere of trust, respect and accountability she will work together with you to understand and define the issues you want to address and assist you in meeting your goals. Michelle has worked primarily in the Canadian mental health field with a focus on trauma issues prior working at the CMU Counseling Center in 2001. She earned a Masters of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

 

 

Kristie Birchmeier, MA, LPC

Counseling provided to students focusing on internal as well as external issues. Making the decision to seek counseling is one of many first steps in facilitating positive change in a person's life. I tend to take a client centered and cognitive-behavioral approach in counseling, making sure that each session addresses the needs of the client. Education: BS in Psychology and Masters Degree in Professional Counseling both from Central Michigan University. 

 

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Cory Cole, MSW, LMSW

Counseling provided to focus on personal or academic concerns of students. Has worked in the public and private sectors, in a variety of clinical and supervisory positions. Education: Master of Social Work from Michigan State University.

 

Rico Drake, Ph.D., LLPC
I completed my Ph.D. in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2011. My focus in counseling is on the developmental and mental health needs of college students. I enjoy working with college students because of the energy, insight, and passion that college students bring to the counseling session. As a clinician I specialize in relationship issues, family dynamics, depression, anxiety, and managing bipolar disorder.
 
In therapy I have an active, genuine, interpersonal counseling style that approaches wellness holisticly. Thus, my treatment recommendations often incorporates biological, behaviroal, cognitive, and relational aspects of a person's life.

 

 


 

 
 
 
 



 

 

Arshia Ebrahimi, Ph.D., LP
In 2006, I completed a Ph.D. in counseling psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. I selected a university counseling center for my first training site, and I have been committed to working with college students ever since! Counseling work with college students is inspiring because the students are exposed to a wide range of life challenges and campus resources, all of which are optimal for the growth and development process.
I firmly believe that any student can change and enhance their quality of life. The goal of counseling is to work with the client to improve areas of concern. My role as the therapist is to a) identify the core problems that are disrupting or impairing the client's life and to b) change core problems into factors that foster one's growth and happiness. I use a variety of counseling theories and techniques to achieve these goals, depending on the type of client's concern and the stage of our counseling work. The client's role is to be as active, honest, and committed to their counseling as possible.  
 
Melissa M. Hutchinson, MA, LPC, NCC
Melissa views trust as the heart of the counseling relationship and works hard to build this trust with each and every student. She recognizes that each student is unique, and their approach to problem solving will also be unique. She tailors the counseling process to meet those unique needs. She encourages each student to be an active participant in their own self-exploration and problem solving. She will work with students to identify goals and then will help them work towards those goals by exploring relevant life areas; including personal development, emotional, social, and academics. Melissa provides individual and group services, as well as supervision for graduate student interns. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University and her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University. She has also earned the National Certified Counselor credential. Melissa has been at the CMU Counseling Center since 2004.  
 



 



 
 
 

 

Chun-Fang Frank Kuo, Ph.D., LLP
 
Counseling is a time clients share their feelings and thoughts in a safe environment. Counseling is also a process in which the counselor helps clients understand their problems. The counselor assists clients in identifying unhealthy behavioral patterns and helps them develop a healthy balance in his or her life. Frank integrates interpersonal, cognitive, behavioral and family frameworks into his clinical work. Frank provides general counseling. His areas of interest include multicultural issues, international student outreach, diversity issues and cross-cultural adjustment, spirituality issues, supervision and training, and group counseling. He is able to provide bilingual counseling in English and Mandarin Chinese.
Before beginning his career at CMU, Frank was a professional counselor/assistant professor at Old Dominion University Office of Counseling Services in Virginia and a counselor at Truman State University Counseling Services in Kirksville, MO. Frank received his M.S. in Counseling and Counselor Education at Indiana University at Bloomington, IN. He earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, and completed his pre-doctoral internship in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh University Counseling Center.
 
Brooke Oliver-Hempenstall, MA, LPC
 
I have worked in the field of sexual aggression and domestic violence since I was an undergraduate student, volunteering with SAPA (Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates) at Central Michigan University for three years. I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from CMU and began my work as a Domestic Violence Advocate for nearly eight years with a women’s shelter in Northern Michigan. During that time, I completed my Master of Arts Degree in Professional & School Counseling from Central Michigan University. Since receiving my Masters, I have worked at both CMU as the Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor and Associate Coordinator of Sexual Aggression Services and as the Director of a Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault shelter, River House, Inc.  I have advocated for creating positive systems change to develop and enhance services, policies and procedures that impact the lives of those who have been effected by sexual assault and domestic violence. I believe that through education, a sense of safety, understanding and support, survivors and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence can be empowered to reclaim their power, rights and voice. 
 
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Lisa Sheffert, MA, Ed.S., LPC
 
I worked in community mental health and private practice in the Mid-Michigan area for 10 years before beginning work at CMU in 2005. I have experience addressing concerns specific to a college environment including stress management, adjustment to college, and career indecision. I also have experience treating various personal concerns, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, domestic violence, emotional, sexual and physical abuse, grief and loss concerns, GLBTQ concerns, and other developmental issues. I will work to create a trusting environment in which you’ll feel safe and respected sharing your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I welcome the opportunity to work together with you to identify concrete goals and solutions, and to strengthen your problem-solving and coping skills.
 

 

Julie Wellman, MA, LLPC
 

 

Julie utilizes a strength-based approach in helping students discover what is and is not working in their life. Using a blend of interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral and family systems theories, Julie will work with a student to develop goals, discover new ideas and encourage change. Julie provides general counseling to students with a variety of concerns, but has a special interest in treating adjustment, anxiety, depression, trauma and grief/loss. She also enjoys working with non-traditional students and Veterans making the transition from active-duty to student. Julie earned a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University in 2013 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Family and Community Services. Prior to graduate school, Julie worked for 14 years in a variety of community agencies serving individuals, families and college students. Julie is originally from this area and enjoys the outdoor activities and recreation Mt. Pleasant offers.  

 



 
 
 
Counseling Center Intern

  

 
 
 
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Amanda Patterson, B.S.
  
My goal in counseling is to promote and enhance healthy self-actualizing and satisfying lifestyles and to ensure a positive, welcoming and safe atmosphere for promoting growth within the student. Because each individual session will not be the same with so many differing worldviews I use an eclectic approach with a leaning towards Gestalt and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and am currently pursuing my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling both from Central Michigan University.  I elected to work with college students because they are at a significant milestone in their life that ushers in a time of separation and transition, requiring an adjustment on the part of the student. The transition to college does not happen in a vacuum, nor does it happen overnight.  No matter how prepared students think they are starting college is the beginning of something new. Understanding the student’s new way of life, and being available to listen and provide support is important to any student’s healthy adaptation to the college experience.
  
Support Staff
 

Peggy Clerc, Senior Administrative Assistant

I began my career with Central Michigan University in 2007 as an Office Professional in the Physician Assistant Program.  I then joined the Counseling Center in 2010 as the Administrative Secretary.   I provide assistance and direction to the Counseling Center faculty and staff in the day-to-day operations.  I also bring over fifteen years of professional experience in the management of educational and medical office settings.

Jessica Gleeson, B.A.A.

 Graduate Office Assistant
Erin Cross, Junior   Student Office Assistant
      
 

CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY

1200 S. Franklin St • Mount Pleasant, Mich. 48859
Phone: 989-774-4000

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