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Meet The New Counseling Office
Perry Hamm '17 Associate Editor
October 28, 2015

This fall, Deerfield has welcomed over 20 new faculty members. While many can be seen teaching in their classrooms or settling down in dorms, three new community members may be more difficult to spot. In the Health Center basement, Dr. Joshua Relin leads the new Counseling Office. He is joined by Ms. Cassiel Owens and Dr. Susan Watson.

Coco Spagna
Coco Spagna

Dr. Relin, originally from Brewster, MA, is the new campus Counseling Director. After attending Skidmore College and earning his Psy.D (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) at The Wright Institute at UC Berkeley in Oakland, he returned to South Deerfield to work at UMass Amherst. There, he spent nine years performing “student assessment and treatment,” promoting healthy masculinity and providing mental health services for veterans on campus. He now lives in Historic Deerfield with his wife, five year-old son, and two year-old daughter.

Dr. Relin has come to appreciate particular aspects of the Deerfield campus, such as the “unreal” cell-phone policy. “I love that people I pass look at me and say ‘hi’— it is brief, but it is such a positive connection.” One of his most memorable Deerfield experiences to date was driving the 9th grade proctors to Camp Becket. “It was really cool to just hang out with them on the drive—they are an impressive group,” he recalled.

Dr. Relin is a sit-down table head, will play the violin in the Deerfield orchestra and thinks “it would be fun” to be involved in a co-curricular further down the road.

While he praised Deerfield’s renowned community as a “friendly, warm and welcoming place,” Dr. Relin also noted how challenging the “busy rhythms of daily life” can be. He views the pace-of-life issue as an opportunity to integrate mindfulness practice.

Another new counselor, Ms. Cassiel Owens, also notes how the rapid pace of Deerfield life can take its toll: “While the rigorous and engaging community gives rise to truly inspiring faculty and students alike, I wish that it didn’t impact sleep so much.”

Ms. Owens has lived in Western Massachusetts for over 15 years and shared that her “transition [to Deerfield] has been very positive.” She added: “My family and I have felt very welcomed by the warm and engaged community—it is a joy to live and work here.” Ms. Owens has practiced throughout the Pioneer Valley for the past seven years, “providing clinical support to women and children.” She earned her BA from Hampshire College and went on to The Smith College School for Social Work. In New England, she worked as a School Adjustment Counselor at Northampton High School. Now, she lives on campus with her husband David and their son, Frederick, and said she cannot wait to see the campus covered in snow.

On the other hand, Dr. Susan Watson, who joined the Deerfield community from Jackson, Mississippi, “is a little nervous about our family’s first winter.” However, she added, “It will be fun to see our kids see real snow for the first time!” While Dr. Relin and Ms. Owens have been in the valley for years, Dr. Watson has traveled over 1,000 miles to be a part of the Deerfield family this year. She said, “Moving the whole family all the way across the country was a big leap of faith for us, and [I’m] so glad we did it!” The Watsons have three-year-old twin girls, a fifteen-month-old son, and three dogs.

After earning her doctorate in clinical psychology from Harvard, Dr. Watson completed an internship in child and adolescent psychology at Bellevue Hospital and the NYU Child Study Center in New York. This is Dr. Watson’s first experience at a boarding school. She admitted that she “wasn’t totally sure what to expect.”

After her first few weeks at Deerfield, Dr. Watson has been inspired by the community’s lively camaraderie. “We really enjoy the strong sense of school spirit at Deerfield,” she reflected.

Deerfield’s three new counselors share the desire to be trustworthy resources and helping hands whenever needed. Dr. Watson is already impressed by “the many layers of support available to students.” She and her colleagues also hope to be the best representation of this support and guidance. In the hope that she, and the whole counseling office, will have a positive effect on campus, Dr. Watson said, “We are dedicated to trying to help students in whatever ways [we] can.”