Peck Hall houses marriage, family therapy department

Luke Rafferty | Asst. Photo Editor

Peck Hall, located at 601 E. Genessee St., houses the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamic’s department of marriage and family therapy. The move brings the department closer to other mental health facilities in Syracuse, like the St. Joseph’s Hospital Center.

Peck Hall, the original location of the Syracuse University College of Medicine, is returning to its roots in higher learning.

The historic downtown building has been leased back to SU to house David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamic’s Department of Marriage and Family Therapy.

The MFT department moved onto the first floor of Peck, located at 601 E. Genesee St., last month. The department decided to expand its Couple and Family Center in Peck to admit more students into the program and expand its presence in the Syracuse community, according to a Jan. 23 Falk press release.

While the building itself was constructed in 1896, it contains state-of-the-art technology, such as smart classrooms with video conferencing, and counseling rooms with digital video imaging, along with a new, free children’s clinic, according to a Jan. 26 article in The Post-Standard.

SU has spent more than $2 million renovating Peck Hall, which it plans to lease for 15 years. The building was last occupied in 2005 as a charter school, according to the article.

One reason for the location choice was the close proximity to other mental health facilities, said Deborah Coolhart, a marriage and family therapy professor.

Later this spring, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center will open a mental health clinic on the second floor of the building. The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which sits adjacent to Peck, will also enhance the free MFT clinic, according to the article.

“With these renovated facilities, our growing partnership with St. Joseph’s, which is physically located in the building, and McMahon/Ryan right next door, our students have access to a technologically advanced, interdisciplinary training environment working side by side with highly skilled and very dedicated mental health professionals,” Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of Falk, said in the release.

The new facilities will allow graduate students, who hope to obtain their master’s degrees in therapy, to interact better with each other and with patients, Coolhart said.

“We really outgrew our space at the other location,” Coolhart said.

The facilities could not accommodate the number of clients.Coolhart said she estimates the new location doubled the number of therapy rooms, while also allowing “teaming,” where students observe other students performing therapy.

As of 2012, the program had 74 students who are required to perform 500 therapy hours to earn their master’s degrees, Coolhart said.

The move was also made with hopes of addressing the shortage of mental health services locally and nationally, according to the Jan. 26 Post-Standard article.

“The need for additional trained clinicians is extraordinary,” Thom deLara, MFT department chair, said in the article.

Another part of the reason for the move was the support of SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who liked how the new location connected the university with the community, according to the Falk press release.

In the release, Cantor said the program will create beneficial educational opportunities for students, while providing counseling services to local residents.

Said Cantor in the release: “It’s so fitting that this vibrant, cross-sector professional community that built an exemplary two-way street of collaboration metaphorically now has a home physically on Syracuse’s signature two-way street, the Connective Corridor.”


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