Maria Maldonado Weng, MS/MHC '22 July 21, 2022
MS Mental Health Counseling
Throughout her education at PCOM, Maria Maldonado Weng has been an advocate for mental health awareness among the
Hispanic community in Philadelphia. As she looks to her upcoming graduation from PCOM’s
MS in Mental Health Counseling program, Ms. Maldonado Weng reflects on her time at PCOM and shares her plans for the future.
Why did you choose PCOM’s mental health counseling program?
Throughout my undergraduate career, professors from PCOM’s mental health counseling program would come to my school to discuss the program. During their visits, they shared
that the program supports an integrative health system and focuses on the biopsychosocial
model. With this in mind, I knew PCOM would help me reach my goal. The counseling
program trains future therapists to communicate with other doctors throughout the
treatment of a patient because we believe that every domain a human experiences is
important for effective treatment.
What was your favorite part of the mental health counseling program?
I enjoyed being a student at PCOM. My favorite part of the program was developing
my advocacy project, a mental health program for the Hispanic community in Philadelphia.
I started my project on the first day of school. I had no idea how to develop a mental
health program. I asked my professors for advice on what I could do to accomplish
the advocacy project, and I was immediately met with positive feedback and advice.
Throughout my time in the program, I found my professors to be a great resource for
When The Center for Brief Therapy at PCOM heard about my advocacy project, they wanted to contribute to the project. The support
of my professors gave me hope that I was able to make my idea come to life. Thanks
to Dr. Corbin, Dr. Glassman, Dr. Marcie, Dr. Schwartz, and Julianna Bidic for the support and motivation to continue
the mental health program for the Hispanic community in Philadelphia!
What inspired you to pursue a career in mental health counseling?
As a Puerto Rican woman, I understood why the Hispanic community perceives mental
health as a taboo topic. When I moved to Philadelphia for my undergraduate degree,
I had the first mental health experience that made me realize that psychology is equally
important as medical science. It took me about eighteen years to have my first real
psycho-education. When I lived in Puerto Rico, there weren’t many mental health conversations
in my schools and neighborhoods. When I moved to Philadelphia, I noticed a lack of
mental health services and awareness in Puerto Rico. Mental health is essential for
everyone because it influences our daily life. I knew I wanted to help eliminate the
negative view on mental health by educating the Latinx communities and debunking any
misconceptions about mental health.
What impact do you hope to have after graduation?
After graduation, I will become a behavioral therapist that works with individuals
who have traumatic brain injuries. I also hope that the mental health project that
I developed with the help of Julianna Bidic continues after my graduation and continues
to positively influence the young Latinx population of Philadelphia. I want them to
understand that mental health is an important topic that should be discussed in schools
and at home. I am also planning on going back to school to work on getting a PhD in
What advice would you give to a student that is starting their journey now?
Do not be afraid to talk to your professors and advisors. They are more than willing
to help you with your journey. I talked to my professors about my ideas for the future,
my advocacy project and my career options. They are there to help you succeed in life.