Office Hours with Dr. Marisa Moore
Office Hours is a recurring segment where the Inside Marist team sparks captivating conversations with key members of the campus community. Find out more about the inner workings of the College, gain fresh perspectives, and celebrate the invaluable contributions of those who make Marist the vibrant community that it is.
In this segment, Inside Marist’s Michelle Eggink interviews Dr. Marisa Moore, an intersectional feminist counseling psychologist serving as Director of Counseling Services and adjunct instructor for the MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Marist.
Counseling Services features a staff of professionals dedicated to the personal, interpersonal, and collective wellness of the campus community.
Counseling Services team in the group therapy room. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.
Q What are some activities the Counseling Services team partake in for fun or self-care?
A My team and I love to laugh, eat new food, and send pictures of our cats and dogs in a colleague group chat. I’m very proud of my team because they are good at communicating what they need. We have a weekly ‘Wellness Hour’ when we all take a full hour to ourselves to read, go for a walk, go to the gym, add time to our lunch hour, or just do whatever we need during this protected time.
Q What made you want to go into psychology?
A Working as a summer camp bereavement counselor for children who experienced loss really drew me to wanting to support adolescents. I worked with children who lost their parents to cancer or experienced loss in the form of gang violence, accidents, or trauma. Even though I started as a pre-med student in my undergrad, I ended up trading those physics classes for higher-level psychology classes.
Q What do you enjoy about working with young people?
A Newer generations feel more attuned to their emotions, more accepting, and less stigmatizing of emotions. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to work with those who are closer to that awareness. They are the best example of what evolving looks like!
Dr. Marisa Moore in Fontaine Hall. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.
Q What does it mean to be an intersectional feminist counseling psychologist?
A When we think of the history of feminism, we find that it has not been inclusive to women of color, Black women, Trans women, and others. Intersectional feminism aspires to be inclusive of all different intersecting identities. This is my approach to psychology, as it recognizes that all peoples hold numerous identities that can inform their experience in this world.
Q Self-care seems to be a trendy buzzword that can feel like emotional bypassing. What does real self-care mean to you?
A Self-care has been so capitalized and monetized that we equate it to things that cost money, like mani-pedis and spa days, which isn't true! I’m very passionate about what Black activist Audre Lorde (who was also an intersectional feminist) coined as “radical self-care,” which emphasizes that self-care is not self-indulgence but self-preservation. For example, saying no or setting a boundary are forms of radical self-care. As an office, my team and I strive to be inclusive and social justice-informed and believe that collective care is also a big part of self-care. To fully take care of ourselves we must heal collectively along with our community.
Dr. Moore speaking with students. Photo by Zachary Gawron/Marist College
Q What are some misconceptions about emotions and therapy?
A Society makes us feel like we can’t have more than one feeling at a time when we can have many, all of which are valid and temporary. There is a stigma that emotions are a nuisance, not helpful, or should be avoided. There’s often a cultural component to many of our ideas about emotions. Coming from a Puerto Rican background myself there was this mindset of, “Feelings? Who has time for that?” or that we keep those kinds of things to ourselves. But emotions are informative and provide us with incredibly helpful data about ourselves and our situations.
Many people also believe therapy isn’t helpful even though there is so much research and data to prove how effective it can be. People forget that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. If someone is walking around with a cast, it’s easier to offer compassion than when someone is struggling with mental health issues beneath the surface.
The Counseling Center in Midrise 113 is a cozy and relaxing space filled with artwork and encouraging messaging. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.
Q What would you say most college students struggle with?
A The pursuit of happiness, guilt for resting, and sitting with “negative feelings.” So many college students think, “If I just get good grades, work hard, get that job, that house, that relationship... THEN I will be happy.” Happiness, like all emotions, even negative ones, is not a permanent state. I encourage students to get more comfortable with uncomfortable emotions and instead of just seeking happiness, seek meaning, joy, and contentment.
Even “negative feelings” serve a purpose. There is a reason we have anxiety and fear. While they can sometimes be disruptive or interfere with our lives, having a little bit can help keep us motivated, get us out of bed, and study for that exam. It’s about learning how to be OK with all your feelings.
Q Can you talk to me about your office’s vision for uplifting marginalized groups on campus and your commitment to collective care?
A As an office, we want to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion work on campus and reduce barriers to mental wellness. For example, experiencing marginalization, racism, or financial difficulty impacts mental health. It's an ongoing commitment to also include more representation in our staffing in the future.
We want to do our part as a department, but we also can't do it alone. Part of our work is collaborating with and training our comrades in departments across campus so that we can all positively support students’ mental health.
Q What kinds of group therapy options does the Counseling Center host?
- Sanctuary: A group for sexual assault survivors.
- Calming the Storm Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Group: where students learn skills like emotional regulation.
- Minds of All Kinds: The Office of Accommodations and Accessibility invited our team to collaborate to help students who are neurodivergent or are just having social anxiety or issues.