As the University expands its emotional well-being and mental health services at the Notre Dame Wellness Center, a second clinical psychologist has been added to the roster. Victoria Colanese joins clinical psychologist Adam Dell and licensed clinical social worker Lesley Weiss to round out the Wellness Center’s counseling team. Colanese started her position last month and is building her caseload. Faculty, staff and their family members in search of a counselor may contact the Wellness Center for an appointment at 574-634-WELL (9355).
Colanese, originally from LaPorte, attended Valparaiso University for her bachelor’s degree and Ball State University for her graduate work, earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and a doctorate in counseling psychology, with a specialty in health psychology.
“A lot of my research interests have been in helping improve communication in health settings between providers and patients, and my clinical interests have been mostly in primary care settings,” she said. Colanese also has experience working in palliative care and internal medicine settings, as well as at a cancer center.
At the start of the pandemic, Colanese worked with residents of long-term care facilities. “At one point, I was gowning up for every patient I was seeing. There were times when residents were very isolated — they couldn’t have visitors — and it was very hard for them. So just being able to be present with them and spend some time with them each week was really meaningful to me.” After things calmed down, Colanese decided to return to primary care, her original passion.
As a clinical psychologist, Colanese helps patients, through counseling, to manage anxiety and depression, as well as associated physical health conditions. Her expertise includes helping patients cope with a new diagnosis and chronic illnesses, as well as assisting caregivers with stress and burnout.
“Another area I work in is sleep hygiene,” Colanese said. “When COVID first hit, everyone had to kind of switch to remote work and remote learning. I had a lot of teens who really struggled with time management and their sleep schedule. Not getting enough sleep is such a huge factor — it affects us into our next day and our ability to stay focused. And then that can increase anxiety and depression symptoms, and all play off of each other.”
The Wellness Center is physically expanding too. While continuing to offer personalized medical care, an onsite pharmacy, physical therapy services and a pediatric staff dedicated to caring for employees’ children, the additional space will accommodate broader offerings in the areas of physical therapy, occupational health, wellness coaching and pharmacy. The center will continue to be operated and staffed by Premise Health.