Amy HonigmanCounseling and Psychological Services (CPS) is opening a new satellite office in the Graduate Assembly Wellness Center, 444 Eshleman. Dr. Amy Honigman, a UC Berkeley alumna and specialist in graduate student wellness, will be available to hold appointments with graduate and professional students in the new space. Other services will include Let’s Talk drop-in (Thursdays, 10-11am), individual and couples counseling, as well as groups focusing on Mindfulness, Stress and Resilience, and Transitioning from Self-Criticism to Kindness.

We spoke with Dr. Honigman about the new satellite office and graduate student mental health.

What is the Graduate Wellness Center? How did you get connected to it?
The Graduate Assembly Wellness Center was created by the GA, in part in response to the Wellness Report that came out a couple years back. In the report, it was clear that graduate student needs are different than those of undergraduates, yet there have been very few mental health services directly addressing these needs. The report found that issues like faculty support and engagement, limited social support, insomnia, not feeling valued and uncertain career prospects made a marked difference in graduate student wellness.

I was fortunate to be a consultant on the survey as well as on the Wellness Initiative.  I was really excited when the GA made this opportunity available. I believe we can find better ways to support wellness specifically for graduate and professional students.

How long have you worked at UC Berkeley?
I’ve worked at Berkeley for about six years. Although that may not be all that long, I am also a Cal alumna. Since my student days here, I have continued to watch how education and learning has changed and, sadly, the ways in which college life has become more and more difficult for students. Coming to work at Berkeley meant more than a job; I really wanted to help improve student wellness by contributing with my 30-plus years of clinical experience.

What do you find most interesting about working with graduate and professional students?
I really appreciate how determined and sophisticated graduate and professional students are. It is a huge sacrifice and commitment to do their work. I also believe this is a pivotal point in their lives, one in which they can begin to feel they are making contributions for the greater good.

What is the most important thing a graduate or professional student should know about mental health?
Two important things:

  1. Prevention. Try to take really good care of yourself — sleep (so important!), play (even Freud said work AND play are important), know your limits (and set them), and ask for help.
  2. Intervention. Get support, a different perspective, and talk with someone about what you’re going through. Many people think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I believe it is a sign of strength.

Tell us about a hobby you enjoy in your spare time.
I love to create things like jewelry, art, and amazing desserts. For a while I was into color psychology and how color is used in marketing and architecture. I also really enjoy hiking, river rafting, skiing, meditation and reading about English history… love all of those Queens and Kings!

What is your favorite quote?
I have several quotes I really like. Since I am big on thinking about failure and resilience, I like these two:

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery” – James Joyce


“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Henry Ford

This next quote is helpful in getting through failures and difficulties:

“Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that … say[s]
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.”          – Naomi Shihab Nye

Feel welcome to contact Dr. Honigman at 510-664-5117 or email [email protected] for more information or to request an appointment.