A newsmaker you should know: Cranberry man to direct university counseling center

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Many residents of Pittsburgh may wish they could move to Florida during the long, cold months of winter, but for Ian Edwards, who grew up in Florida, Pittsburgh seems to offer the perfect environment. "I love the cooler climate. This is where I am happiest," he said.

Dr. Edwards, 38, of Cranberry, was named director of the Duquesne University Counseling Center late in November after the previous director, Dr. Jack Nelson, retired after 46 years with the university. Dr. Edwards said he has large shoes to fill, but having worked at the center since 2006 and with a doctorate in clinical psychology, he believes he is well prepared for the role.

It seemed meant to be.

Dr. Edwards came to Pittsburgh to study at Duquesne from his home in southern Florida. "Don't get me wrong, I loved South Beach. But I was attracted by the program here," he said. While working on his degree he served as an intern in the counseling center in the 2001-02 academic year. After completing coursework for his doctorate, he returned to Florida to work on his dissertation.

"I worked in a juvenile facility and worked in an outpatient facility as a counselor," he said.

He finished the doctorate in 2006 and decided to come back to Pittsburgh for a post-doctoral internship at Duquesne's Counseling Center. "It was a good opportunity and I was glad to be back," he said.

Dr. Edwards then moved to the University of Pittsburgh as a staff psychologist for a year. When a full-time position opened at Duquesne in 2008, he came back to stay.

Dr. Edwards served as assistant director/training coordinator. Dr. Edwards also has taught as an adjunct professor in psychology and in the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement. He was appointed interim director at the counseling center enter in September and selected to fill the position permanently two months later.

According to Dr. Edwards, the center works with other areas of the university for the good of the student. The work brings the center into contact with departments such as Health Services, Residence Life, Spiritan Campus Ministry, the psychology clinic, the Support Council and the Campus Community Risk Team.

"We are centered on the mission of caring for the whole person -- the mind, body and spirit. We honor and respect each area and work with the other offices to best assist our students," he said, "I don't see how we can have psychological healing without a spiritual life and physical well being."

The center has also moved to a 12-session "short-term" model in meeting with students to serve more people.

"We work with students so we are more directed and goal-oriented," he said. The center also has expanded its group program offerings and workshops, he said. "We have a variety of workshops including topics such as test anxiety, preparing for finals and relaxation techniques." Dr. Edwards said the center also serves as a resource for students who need referrals to outside services.

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com .


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