The holidays can bring more than cheer. They also can lead to sadness and even depression. One solution is a visit to the Queens College Psychological Center.
Located on the Flushing campus for the last three years, the center deals with community residents of all ages. College students are treated elsewhere.
The center is headed by Yvette Caro, a licensed clinical psychologist who lives in Jackson Heights. “We really want to let people know that we’re here to serve them,” Caro said, adding that the center is also a safety net clinic.
“That means we want to reach people who are underinsured, underemployed, unemployed and undocumented,” she added.
The center treats children as well as adults and sees about 150 people a year. It offers psychotherapy and counseling services as well as evaluations and individual, group, family and couples psychotherapy.
Caro noted that this time of year is particularly stressful to people who become depressed and anxious and that the center sees an influx of patients after the holidays in January. “People get caught up in the holiday hype,” she said. “Stress could be brought on by adjustments with children home from school, remembering the loss of loved ones or triggering of memories.”
The psychologist noted that people need shields to get over these stresses. “There is a letdown for everyone after the holidays,” she said. “It is important to keep to your routines and don’t isolate yourself,” Carol said. “Set short- and long-term goals and make them reasonable.”
Students in Queens College’s clinical psychology-neuropsychology doctoral program provide treatment at the center under the supervision of licensed psychologists on the faculty. Caro has a staff of nine.
The college funds the center and no one is turned away. There is an initial fee of $25 but that too will be waived for people with serious financial problems. Fees for services are on a sliding scale up to $50.
Treatment usually runs eight to 12 weeks though some can last as long as a year. The center is located in Razran Hall, suite 140, at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The most common pediatric problems that the center treats are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, separation anxiety, fears, social skills deficits, tantrums and aggression.
“Breaking through barriers is especially important when dealing with children,” Caro said. “A lot of immigrant families are concerned with having a child labeled.”
For adults, the problems include anxiety, depression, grief and bereavement, coping with medical illness, self-esteem, parenting and phobias. Claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces, and agoraphobia, fear of leaving the house, are the most common. “There are treatments to make them feel better,” Caro said. “Otherwise, it impairs their lives.”
The director likes working in such a multiethnic area and believes her clinic offers a lot of support to individuals who don’t normally get connected or are fearful of mental health issues. “In some cultures there is a stigma about treating for mental health,” she said, “and often undocumented aliens are afraid to seek help.”
Through outreach and word of mouth, the center finds a steady stream of patients. “They find us through the internet, referrals from the college and now word of mouth,” Caro added.
Patients can be referred to other facilities, should the need arise.
The director previously worked more than 20 years at Bellevue Hospital Center and has received numerous awards including one from the NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. for her commitment and excellent quality of community care.
To schedule an appointment, call (718) 570-0500.