In the fall semester of 2017, UC Clermont’s Compass Counseling Center is changing with the leaves. Our campus should expect a new face after Mary Signorelli, Clermont’s current Compass counselor, says goodbye to UC Clermont; new Compass Counselor Ana Lopez will then begin her journey.
Mental health issues are common among college students. Classes can be difficult, homework can add up, and personal lives can become hectic; stress can creep up on students with so many responsibilities to juggle. Studies show that one in four college students contemplate suicide, with many mental health conditions beginning during the ages of eighteen to twenty-four. While this stage of life can indeed be overwhelming, students at UC Clermont have helpful resources and are encouraged to use them.
The Compass Counseling Center is a free and confidential service to all students currently enrolled at UC Clermont. Located in Student Services, room 201, the Compass Counseling Center welcomes students by walk-ins and appointments to work one-on-one with an experienced therapist. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and even stress from home or work are common reasons that students reach out to Compass Counseling. Compass Counseling also encourages students who might be dealing with grief and loss, or students who are having thoughts of suicide, to reach out and seek help.
UC Clermont’s current Compass Counselor, Mary Signorelli, is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervisory Designation and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor. She specializes in depression, anxiety, and other specific emotional problems. And, she also happens to have an interesting background that many on campus may not be familiar with.
From Topeka, Kansas, Mary has many hobbies and interests such as cooking and growing flowers, and she counts her cats as part of the family. While she always had an interest in mental health, Mary first attended Washburn University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business. It wasn’t until 2007 that she started to pursue a professional interest in mental health at the University of Cincinnati.
Mary has been Clermont’s Compass Counselor for almost seven years, working with Clermont students and guiding them through some of the toughest parts of their lives. Before Compass Counseling, she worked at another behavioral health center called LifePoint Solutions. Mary explains that her desire was to “just want to help people.” She also noted that “the most satisfying thing about being a mental health counselor is actually witnessing the positive change.”
Mary advocates for mental health in other ways outside of her profession. She has attended some local events like the annual Out of the Darkness Walk at Sawyer Point and the annual Candlelight Vigil at Union Township Veterans Memorial Park. These events are organized to honor and remember those we have succumbed to suicide in Clermont County and elsewhere, raising awareness about suicide and mental illness in general. Mary says she advocates for mental health on a personal and individual level more than anything.
After some difficult decision making, Mary has decided to leave UC Clermont. Due to the increasing health issues of her spouse, she is currently only able to work at Compass Counseling two days a week, while the job requires full-time availability. After leaving UC Clermont, she will continue with her private practice at Your Counseling Help in Eastgate. This will give her more flexibility in scheduling with her clients and increased availability in her personal life. Her last day with clients at UC Clermont was Wednesday, September 13th.
Our New Counselor
Ana Lopez, Compass Counseling’s new therapist, was born and raised in San Antonio Texas and moved to Ohio about thirty years ago. She loves to garden, cook and bake, and ride her motorcycle. Her mother used to say that Ana was born a social worker. She was always the person who everyone went to for advice and a sympathetic ear.
At Chatfield college, Ana earned her associates degree in social work. This was where her career began, where her love of helping people blossomed. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Wilmington College. Finally, at Lindsey Wilson College, she earned her master’s degree in counseling and behavioral health.
Before working for UCC, Ana worked at another agency in the Adams County area. She has plenty of experience counseling in areas like alcohol and drugs, stress, anxiety, and depression. She also has some experience working with clients who deal with eating disorders and self-harm. During an internship at Shawnee University, Ana worked with her coworkers, organizing activities on campus that spread awareness about eating disorders during National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
Ana also has experience in individual therapy, group therapy, couples’ therapy, and even family therapy. During her internship, Ana lead two groups where she used skills like mindfulness and breathing to help with the client’s stress. She has also been involved with crisis counseling and home visitations. She notes, “Some things work with some clients and some things don’t. Sometimes I have to pull therapy skills and techniques from one kind of therapy or the other, depending on the client’s needs.”
For thirteen years, Ana worked as a social worker and then as a counselor with young children. She also worked as an adjunct teacher at Chatfield University.
Ana says that what really pushed her into her career is her son, who has a disability. Her family went through significant challenges, and she wanted to give support to other parents. She found herself volunteering with different agencies, advocating for families who had a disability. This pushed her into the larger world of mental health, something she instantly loved and pursued. “The most satisfying thing about being a mental health counselor is seeing clients utilizing the tools that they’ve learned and making healthy decisions—just watching them grow and succeed and be happy. I love to see them enjoying life,” Ana says.
Ana has already started seeing clients and having sessions at UC Clermont. She attended UC Clermont’s Fall Fest and is getting to know the campus. “With any of my counseling, I want the clients to be able to succeed. For me, the main goal is to have somebody learn to deal with their anxiety, know what to do, see what their triggers are, and understand themselves. My goal is not to advise you or tell you what to do. My goal is to give you the tools that you need to be able to help yourself in anything that you do,” she said.
Even though this change was unexpected, Mary Signorelli is ready and excited to move forward. When asked where she saw herself in five years, she said, “This is it; this is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Just work as a therapist and help people.” She continued: “I will forever be changed because of my work here. I am grateful to have been a part of this college. To be able to interact with students who are so full of hope, commitment and freshness has been such a positive experience for me.” She also says that she will miss the staff, the students, and the college very much.
Mary and Ana are currently working with some of their clients to help them with the transition. Compass Counseling has always had an open door to UC Clermont students and it will continue to do so even after Mary Signorelli leaves. Students are encouraged to use this free, confidential resource and should not hesitate to reach out for help.
UC Clermont welcomes Ana Lopez as the new Compass Counselor. We are excited to work with her and we know she will do great things here and continue helping our Clermont students succeed.
Good luck to Mary Signorelli as she moves forward with her career. All of us here are sure that she will continue to change and save lives while pursuing a job she loves to do.