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Dr. Erica Wilkins: Behavioral Health Counseling

January 9, 2018

Warmth and family atmosphere: that's one of the things Erica Wilkins, PhD thinks sets the Community Wellness HUB apart. "People really feel welcome here" she notes, and in fact the interest and care that Wilkins takes in her clients is easily evident.

Dornsife Community Wellness HUB with CNHP assistant professor and clinical coordinator Erica Wilkins, PhDAs a clinical professor in Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions, Wilkins finds her academic home in the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy. In her research, she considers the residual effects of slavery among African-Americans, the treatment of post-traumatic stress, grief counseling, substance abuse and the family and the development of culturally sensitive health services. She explores how historical and socio-cultural factors, including the legacies of slavery, affect the spread of HIV and AIDS in the African-American community. Wilkins is also working on a community-based participatory action prevention curriculum that will help train African American women to become HIV community educators.

Wilkins holds a clinical appointment at Drexel, meaning that she both teaches students and provides clinical health services. She spends her Wednesdays at the Community Wellness HUB seeing clients as a couples and family therapist. She says not to be confused about the "couples and families" label, that 99 percent of the time her clients come to her as individuals. "The way I think about somebody and the problems they face is in the context of their relationships," she says, describing her approach. Helping clients strengthen their network of relationships is an important driving force in her work.

Wilkins welcomes neighbors of any age to come in to see her if they are interested in getting support with relationship issues or behavioral health. She is equipped to work with clients of any age"cradle to grave" as she puts it—although the majority of the clients she sees at the Community Wellness HUB and at other Drexel service locations are in their early 20s through early 50s.

"It has been a joy working at the Community Wellness HUB," says Wilkins. She feels grateful for the chance to help people through challenges like anxiety, depression and trauma." She says that her clients at the HUB are committed and motivated to come in and work on their issues.

Wilkins notes that her work at the Community Wellness HUB fits neatly into the mission of the program she teaches in: "To take aspects of a person’s culture into account in therapy—race and ethnicity but also gender identity, immigration status and other facets of culture." In her role both in the College of Nursing and Health Professions and at the HUB, Wilkins is committed to offering culturally competent supports, and to attending to issues of social justice.

Her hope for the Community Wellness HUB? "That it grows! The great thing is that I'm almost full with clients on my Wednesdays. It's usually back-to-back clients and that's happened in a relatively short amount of time. In Counseling and Family Therapy we're talking about getting more professors involved, and then to start bringing in student support. In a perfect world our therapeutic services could grow into a daily offering."

Written by Jennifer Britton
Associate Director, Communications & Special Projects
Office of University & Community Partnerships