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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Gabriel Lam becomes the first licensed therapist to exclusively serve the SDSU Imperial Valley campus. Gabriel Lam becomes the first licensed therapist to exclusively serve the SDSU Imperial Valley campus.

An Imperial Valley First: Licensed Therapist Joins Campus

Counseling & Psychological Services has hired SDSU Imperial Valley’s first licensed therapist, who will be on-site and readily available to students.
By Courtney Coleman

Tackling issues of psychological well-being that have become increasingly important in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego State University Imperial Valley has hired its first licensed therapist to exclusively serve the campus.

The new therapist, Gabriel Lam, has been closely connected with SDSU  for more than a decade, having completed his master’s of social work in 2005. He received his clinical social worker (LCSW) license in 2010 and his professional clinical counselor (LPCC) license in 2014.

Lam joined the Counseling & Psychological Services (C&PS) team this semester as part of SDSU Imperial Valley’s ongoing efforts to expand mental health programs and services to students. 

Eager to support his alma mater in this way, Lam said he looks forward to serving students through counseling, while also bringing awareness to the importance of mental health and the range of mental health services students can access.

“In general my goal as a therapist is to help others utilize their strengths to improve their own lives by learning from experience, structure, and while promoting common sense,” said Lam. 

The addition of counseling services at SDSU Imperial Valley is supported by  a  realignment of student fees implemented in fall 2021.

“This is a big win for our students, who have been advocating for the provision of on-site mental health services at SDSU Imperial Valley,” said Henry Villegas, SDSU Imperial Valley dean of student affairs. “It is a definite need for our students—similar to college students across the nation— as they need additional support around mental health-related issues.” 
“I am very excited and I am hoping that students will take advantage of this service,” said Erika Mora, a C&PS counselor. “What stands out to me about Lam is his experience with college students in an instructor and supervisory capacity.”
SDSU Imperial Valley will continue to invest in and expand mental health-related services, said C&PS director Jennifer Rikard. Additional therapist hires are planned, and new programs will be added that offer support to students. 
“I’m thrilled for students that this important service has been implemented, as mental health is closely linked to academic progress,” said Rikard. “Serving and supporting the ‘whole’ student is what we are known for at SDSU.”
Colleges and universities across the country have reported increased levels of stress and feelings of isolation and depression among students after months of remote learning and restricted social activity. Lam has taught at SDSU Imperial Valley since 2012. 
“Gabriel is familiar with the Imperial Valley and SDSU, [having attended] here and having taught at SDSU Imperial Valley since 2012,” Villegas said. “This background has provided Gabriel with a strong understanding of the unique experiences and challenges our students face.”
The new counseling program at SDSU Imperial Valley will be modeled after the existing C&PS program at SDSU and will include offerings in psychotherapy.  
“Psychotherapy helps create a better sense of self-awareness and ideally would provide individuals a better sense of control in their own lives,” Lam said. “Psychotherapy is designed to help create acceptance and commitment within the individual. Students can expect support from me in a direct and nonjudgmental manner.” 
“Imperial Valley students are not alone in their mental health needs,” said Mora. “There is a whole department at SDSU that has the goal of supporting students' mental health needs.”

Students who are struggling with anxiety, stress, or who have general concerns regarding mental health, are encouraged to reach out to C&PS to set up a one-on-one consultation.