Office of Professional Counseling

“Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”


Counseling Center

The practice of Professional Counseling is the application of mental health, psychological, or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systematic intervention strategies, that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology.


Individual counseling and psychotherapy services are available, free of charge, to enrolled students and employees of PHSU. Professional counselors are available to discuss and help you discover your academic goals, plan your educational program, and develop a comprehensive academic plan. Academic Counseling is an opportunity to exchange information designed to help students reach their educational and career goals.

If you’re experiencing academic challenges, you’re not alone. Many students find the demands of coursework to be overwhelming or need guidance on a specific area related to their studies.

Students who meet with our Counselors learn concrete tools and strategies to deal with these struggles. Career Counselling is a process that focuses on helping one understand one’s own self, as well as work trends, so that one can take an informed decision about career and education. There are a number of factors that influence your career development, including your interests, abilities, values, personality, background, and circumstances. Our Counselors will help you figure out who you are and what you want out of your education, your career, and your life. PHSU Counselors, also will help you locate resources and sources of career information. Rehabilitation counseling is a systematic process which assists persons with physical, mental, developmental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities to achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals in the most integrated setting possible through the application of the counseling process.

At PHSU Counseling Center you will find the support of personnel who has the specialized knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to collaborate in a professional relationship with people who have disabilities to achieve their personal, social, psychological, and vocational goals. Commitment to a sense of equal opportunities on a model of accommodation to provide and equalize the chances to participate in all rights and privileges available to all the students; and a commitment to supporting students with disabilities. Group counseling involves 4-8 students meeting with 1-2 trained counselor(s), typically once a week for 1.5 hours.  Group members talk about a variety of issues including exploring relationships, improving self-esteem, and enhancing coping skills.  Group members share information about themselves and provide feedback to others while group leaders facilitate productive communication in the group.


There is evidence for the effectiveness of group treatment for the following issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Social Anxiety
  • Substance Abuse
  • Traumatic Experiences
  • Interpersonal Problems


If you feel you need immediate assistance due to being in crisis (i.e. feeling like you may seriously harm yourself or another person, death of a loved one, hearing voices, physical or sexual assault or under extreme psychological distress), the PHSU Counseling Center provides urgent care services. Please call or visit our Office anytime between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If possible, please call ahead and let us know that you are coming. Please tell the receptionist that you are in crisis and need to see someone as soon as possible.

After business hours, if you are experience a crisis situation or you are experience life-threating emergency, please dial 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room. The Academic Advising System was established in 2009, to support the student’s educational and career success by taking full advantage of the resources of Ponce Health Sciences University and the School of Medicine. This system integrate the efforts of counselors, faculty members, department’s chair, course directors, tutors and students affairs officers with its resources.


One of the components in this system is the Faculty Advising Service. This service provides a longitudinal and individualized advising, focused on:


  • Strategies for Success
  • Career Planning and Residency Match
  • Optimal Use of Enrichment Programs
  • Professional and Personal Development


During the first year of studies each student is assigned to a primary faculty Advisor who will work closely with the student throughout medical school to optimize the student’s course of study. At the Clinical Years, students will be assigned a physician who will serve as their Clinical Advisor. This advisor will serve to guide and advise them throughout the clinical phases of the curriculum. The PHSU Tutoring Service offers support to students in achieving their academic goals. The service currently has over 20 peer tutors knowledgeable in various subjects that works to help students at no cost. Each student may request up to four (4) hours of tutoring per current enrolled subject per week.  Students can review specific course material, master basic concepts or improve on skills under the guidance a peer tutor. Tutoring is accessible on a one-on-one basis or group setting.


Counseling Center staff are available to lead workshops for your class, group, or organization on many topics. Workshops on Request usually last one to two hours and cover topics such as:

  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Communication in relationships
  • Eating disorders
  • Procrastination
  • Self-confidence
  • Stress management
  • Study skills
  • Test anxiety
  • Time management
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Professional Image

Workshops on Request can be requested by anyone for any type of student group and are facilitated by Counseling Center Professional Staff. Our Counseling Center offer brief individual therapy and group therapy. Sometimes, our student’s situations needs a different treatment which may include specialized mental health services. In those cases, referrals for psychological or psychiatric services are available through the Counseling Center. For example:

  • Students who need or will benefit from longer-term therapy
  • Students who require psychiatric care and medication
  • Students whose issues demand a level or continuity of care that cannot be me within an academic calendar


Our Center is fully committed to scheduling you with a counselor as soon as possible. However, sometimes students’ schedules have limited times available, and this can lead to short waiting periods after the initial intake interview. However, in most cases, the appointment is scheduled for the week following the intake appointment.

Appointments can be made by calling 787-840-2575 extension 2555 or e-mail directly to our Counselors at:

Dr. José Soto-Franceschini, PhD, LPC
Ext. 5852

Prof. Jonaira Arroyo Rivera, M.Ed, LPC
Ext. 2174

Prof. Grace M. Morales Mercado, MRC
Ext. 2252

Students also may visit the Center and request an appointment during our regular office hours of Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

If you are experiencing a crisis and need help right away, click here for information about crisis services. The Counseling Center is located in the PHSU Wellness Center.

Please remember that our Centers are inside a clinic, it’s necessary to be appropriately attired in a manner befitting the status of university students as well as the clinic dress code. Also, the ID card must be exhibited at all times and will be required to get access to the facilities (Wellness Center).


Report Your Situation​

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Thank you for inquiring into
 Ponce Health Sciences University 
for your education

We are working on providing you with an improved and updated application experience. You will soon receive information about the launch of our new application portal for the 2023-24 academic year

For MD Secondary Application click HERE

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