Contact the Counseling Center Skip Navigation

Contact the Counseling Center

The Counseling Center staff are experienced mental health professionals dedicated to our students’ personal growth and development.
Office Hours
Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–noon
1:30–5:00 p.m.

Location

Counseling Center is in Conant House — a fieldstone house with dark green shutters behind Drake Hall and above the Bryan Complex. Counseling Center Campus Map

Contact us

Mailing address:
Counseling Center
Conant House
Colgate University
Hamilton, NY 13346-1398

Phone: 315-228-7385
Fax: 315-228-7053

Staff

Learn more about us below; it is important that you have confidence in your counselor's ability to help you.
Dawn LaFrance

Dawn LaFrance, PsyD

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
dlafrance@colgate.edu

Welcome and thanks for visiting our Counseling Center website. It is my privilege to serve as director of Colgate's Counseling Center. I started working here in 2001 after completing my undergraduate degree at Lafayette College and earning master’s and doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology at the University of Indianapolis. During my training, I worked primarily in community mental health and university counseling centers. I spent my internship year at Utah State University's Counseling Center. I have enjoyed so many things about my work and life in Hamilton, especially my many interactions with Colgate students.
  
Read more
My therapeutic orientation is a combination of cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and systems perspectives. Existential and humanistic theories have also influenced my work. Although I am a generalist, I am especially interested in diversity issues, college adjustment, trauma, depression, and anxiety. I am trained in eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) and I am undergoing extensive training in clinical hypnosis. I am excited to work closely with our community to promote Haven, Colgate’s sexual assault response center, as an extension of the counseling center housed in the lower level of Curtis Hall.

I love spending time with my partner, children, and our dog, Colgate Raider. In my free time, I enjoy running and being active outside.

I wish you all the best and hope that someday our paths will cross.
Julie Hawkins

Julie Hawkins, PhD

Staff Psychologist
jehawkins@colgate.edu

I joined the Colgate Counseling Center in 2012. As a Central New York native, I’m so very pleased to be back in the area after several years of living in Florida. While in Florida, I earned a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami.

Read more
I completed internship at the Florida State University Counseling Center, and a post-doctoral residency in the residential addiction treatment unit of a psychiatric hospital.  Although I enjoyed long walks on the beach, after years of wishing the seasons would change, I decided to move back “home”. 

I’ve worked with people of all ages, in a variety of settings, including several colleges as well as hospitals and community mental health centers. My primary area of interest is helping students with their own personal growth and development, while taking into consideration individual characteristics and values. I appreciate all forms of diversity. I believe that managing stress is vital to overall well-being, and have advanced training in meditation, mindfulness, stress management and mind/body medicine. Issues I find particularly interesting include anxiety, depression, relationships and family dynamics. My therapeutic orientation tends toward a blend of systems theories, Adlerian, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

While I love the clinical work, I always look forward to interacting with students outside the office. I’m a member of the Social Norming Committee and the ALANA Affairs committee. I also teach a course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which students can take for a PE credit, and do several workshops, including Managing Test Anxiety, Beating the Winter Blues, and Helping Students in Distress.

When I’m not on campus, I’m usually out finding new things to explore to balance both the introverted and extroverted sides of my personality – whether it’s a day trip, trying something new and creative or spending time with family, friends and pets.
Niki Keating

Niki Keating, PhD

Assistant Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
nkeating@colgate.edu

I joined the counseling center staff in 2013 and truly love supporting students at Colgate. After working in several university counseling centers during my doctoral training at the University at Buffalo, I found working with college students to be my calling. I completed my doctoral internship at the Counseling Center at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Read more
Although I work with students who have a variety of mental health concerns, my clinical interests include group therapy, mood disorders, body image, women’s issues, identity exploration/development, and relationships. My approach to therapeutic work is strongly influenced by interpersonal, feminist, and cognitive theories.

I coordinate the group therapy program in our office and lead a variety of different groups each semester. I love being involved with groups and am continuously impressed with how much support Colgate students are able to offer to each other! I am also responsible for coordinating the Eating Issues Management Team, and find it very rewarding to support students who struggle with disordered eating and body image issues.

I look forward to opportunities to see students outside of the center through various trainings and outreach activities. I teach the Colgate Body Project each semester to promote body positivity and decrease perpetuations of unrealistic (and irrelevant!) standards of beauty. I have also been consistently involved as a guest facilitator of Yes Means Yes!

I’ve become grateful for quiet country living in Hamilton, and often can’t imagine living anywhere else! When I'm not in the office, I'm most likely to be found trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, gardening, or reading the latest thriller/mystery novel. I’m passionate about personal wellness and environmentalism. My partner and 2 children often keep me busy with outdoor activities like hiking and biking, tending to our chickens, and traveling to fun places!
Najla Hrustanovic

Najla Hrustanović, PhD, MS

Staff Counselor
nhrustanovic@colgate.edu

I am originally from a small country located in southeastern Europe known as Bosnia and Herzegovina. My family and I moved to the United States in year 2001 as refugees and have since been fortunate to have led safer and more productive lives. I earned a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the State University of New York at Oswego, and a doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University at Buffalo.

Read more
Over the years I have found the many, meaningful successes from working with college students to be uniquely special and dear to my heart. My clinical training has been focused on serving immigrant, refugee, and underrepresented populations. My research is centered on counselor multicultural competence, trauma and resiliency, and grief and loss issues.

As a generalist, I enjoy helping students who are experiencing a variety of challenges, including issues related to grief and loss, mood disorders, relationship issues, identity development, coping, and more. My specific clinical interests include international-student concerns; cross-cultural adjustment; multicultural, diversity, and social justice issues; counselor training and supervision; group therapy; and coping and resilience.

My personal approach to counseling is influenced by humanistic and cognitive-behavioral approaches, which focus on restructuring certain thoughts and behaviors to empower individuals to reach their full potential in life. In my professional career I hope to help empower students to become more compassionate, culturally-curious, and productive global citizens. I hope to contribute to our society by continuing to be an advocate for all in ways that will provide individuals with knowledge of the nature of mental health counseling, as well as its benefits and therapeutic possibilities. 

In my personal time, I enjoy working out, engaging in nature-meditation and yoga practices, and especially participating in military-style obstacle courses and endurance events. Additionally, I enjoy spending quality time with my family who live in a neighboring community, as well as volunteering at the refugee center in the area.
Christian Beck

Christian Beck, MA

Staff Counselor
cbeck@colgate.edu

I joined the counseling staff in 2016 and enjoy supporting and helping students navigate the process of improving their well-being. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Exercise Science from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University in Virginia Beach. Additionally, I have completed extensive trauma training through the Green Cross. Although I have been spoiled with Virginia’s sunshine, sandy beaches, and the sound of rolling waves, I am thrilled to return to Upstate New York where I grew up.

Read more
I have experience working with people of all ages at a variety of settings, including outpatient facilities, hospitals, and colleges. While working on my Master’s degree, I had the opportunity of completing my graduate internship at Virginia Wesleyan College’s counseling center. It is there that I developed my passion for mental health counseling in the college setting. College is such an exciting and monumental period of life that fosters growth, individuality, and maturity. My desire is to help students find traction in their busy and often demanding lives, as well as empower them to grow and develop into their full potential.

My therapeutic approach in counseling stems from a humanistic perspective and is strongly influenced by both cognitive-behavioral and Gestalt theories. Although I am a generalist and work with students who have a variety of mental health concerns, my clinical interests include trauma and resilience, mood disorders, athletic identity, college adjustment, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues.

Personally, I am a huge proponent of health and wellness and enjoy intense physical workouts, running, competitive sailing, and playing all sports. That being said, I am always ready to devour a pizza. You will certainly find me at Colgate sporting events rooting on the Raiders and working out in the Trudy Fitness Center. I also enjoy cooking and am embarrassed to say how many hours I can watch “Chopped” or “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in one sitting.
Susan Nolen

Susan Nolen, MSW

Staff Counselor
snolen@colgate.edu

Originally from Virginia, I received a bachelor’s of social work from James Madison University in 1982, and a master’s of social work from Temple University in 1986. Both my undergraduate and graduate programs focused on systems theory which serves as a foundation for my work with students here at Colgate.

Read more
I enjoy working with the variety of issues our students are dealing with including body image concerns and eating disorders, depression, anxiety, grief, developmental issues, relationship concerns, and family issues. I’ve had the pleasure of helping students work through the problems associated with these significant developmental years on a part-time, adjunct basis since the fall of 1989.

Outside of work I enjoy music, walking, volunteer work, and receiving texts from my three children who are in the process of emptying the nest.
Denise Contreras

Denise M. Contreras, MSW

Assistant Director, Survivor Support Services
dcontreras@colgate.edu

I joined the counseling staff in 2015 and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with a dynamic team and supporting students at Colgate University. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, I had the opportunity to serve as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force for over seven years. Following my separation from the military, I pursued my college education and received my bachelor's and master’s degrees in Social Work from Texas State University in 2006 and 2007. My MSW program in direct-practice was built on the liberal arts perspective.

Read more
It is my pleasure to serve as the Assistant Director, Survivor Support Services of Haven, located in the garden level of Curtis Hall. Sexual Violence and other forms of violence affects everyone, my goal is to continue to support those who experience such violent acts and to serve as a social justice advocate for change.

I have extensive experience working on the issues that initially brought me to social work: prevention and education, crisis intervention, and a desire to support the emotional health of young adults. My focus includes trauma and PTSD, alcohol and substance misuse, life transitions, grief/loss, relationships, identity, and trans/queer mental health and healing. I am a generalist who enjoys helping students identify their strengths to re-explore and develop new ways of coping with stress. My approach to the therapeutic process involves a strengths-based perspective and cognitive behavioral techniques with trauma-informed clinical care. In my practice, I explore decolonizing health and wellness and use ancestral healing work as a source of self-healing.

When I'm not wearing my social work hard hat, you can find me jogging, attending sporting events and tailgating. I am a faithful Texas Longhorn football fan and now a Colgate Raider fan of every sport possible! I also enjoy reading, art, concerts, traveling, and spending time exploring the East Coast!
Natasha Torres

Natasha Torres, BA

Program Coordinator, Sexual Assault Response Initiatives
ntorres@colgate.edu

Natasha Torres graduated from Colgate University in 2015. She’s an Office of Undergraduate Studies scholar and received the Voice of Consciousness Award as a senior for her work in co-organizing an 101 hour sit-in that led to the Colgate for All 21 Point Plan. 

Read more
As a student, she was the Chairwoman of Sisters of the Round Table, Co-founder/House Leader of the Social Justice House and member of Broad Street Association. Natasha majored in Educational Studies with a minor in Women's Studies, which informs her passion and advocacy work at Haven and beyond. After graduating, she did some non-profit work with the Cleveland Leadership Center and Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America.

She started at Haven in 2016 as a Residential Fellow, and now serves as the center’s Program Coordinator. She cares deeply about social change and centering the voices of those most impacted by institutional violence. She believes that creating art is activism and healing. She enjoys reading, graphic designing, and spending time with her direct and chosen family.
Amanda Bridge

Amanda L. Bridge

Office Manager
abridge@colgate.edu

After working in the Admission Office at Colgate University for 7 years, I transferred to join the Counseling Center staff in August of 2010. I am happy to be the first face to welcome students to the Counseling Center and help to get them connected with the support they need. I reside in a town nearby with my husband and 2 small children that keep me very busy. I enjoy spending time with my family, time outside, reading and making use of the fitness center at Colgate.