Columbia College Chicago

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Miller Muhammad Becomes New Counseling Services Director

E. Cordelia Miller Muhammad (R) with John DeMarsilis (L)E. Cordelia Miller Muhammad (R) with John DeMarsilis (L)
New Counseling Services director E. Cordelia Miller Muhammad encourages students to put mental health on par with academics.

E. Cordelia Miller Muhammad, previously a staff therapist at Columbia College Chicago’s Counseling Services office, began a new role as the office’s director in November 2015. Counseling Services recently augmented its staff from two to six licensed therapists, and Miller Muhammad sees this expansion as an opportunity to spotlight the importance of counseling at Columbia, putting mental health on par with academics and job preparation.

After 29 years in the mental health field, Miller Muhammad has worked in private practices, hospitals, federally qualified health centers and more. One of her personal goals has been fighting the stigma of counseling services in African American communities. Over the years, she learned that she loved working with younger communities, teaching mental health skill to positively influence their entire lives. "If you can learn to feel good about yourself when you're young, that's something you can take with you till you're in old age," says Miller Muhammad.

John DeMarsilis, who was by Miller Muhammad's side throughout the entire Counseling Services transition, says they had to rely on each other and work as a team. Today, he's happy to see fresh faces in Counseling Services. "Even though [the therapists] are new here, they have a wealth of experience," he says. "So they're not new to the clinical field at all."

Counseling Services offers a wealth of resources for students, including free individual and group therapy. Staff therapists also run workshops and presentations on mental health issues. Each academic year, enrolled students can sign up for 10 free individual counseling sessions. Group therapy sessions are unlimited.

Miller Muhammad sees mental health as a pathway to personal empowerment, too. “It’s not about what’s wrong with you. It’s about what happened to you,” she says. “But even if we look at what happened to you, you can still have a quality life. Let’s figure it out.” 

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