Behavioral Health’s Dr. Coughlan Dies March 17

Dr. Philippa Coughlan

Dr. Philippa Coughlan, 75, director of Wesleyan’s Office of Behavioral Health for Students (OBHS), died March 17 after a brief illness.

Dr. Coughlan founded OBHS in the early 1970s, and she coordinated and directed psychotherapeutic and counseling services at Wesleyan for nearly 40 years. Many generations of Wesleyan students benefited from her professional skills, diligent work, and caring support. Under her guidance, the office expanded to meet the substantial increases in both the number of students seeking assistance and the complexity of the issues those students present.

Dr. Coughlan received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she worked with Carl Rogers. At Wisconsin, she was a principal in the post-Vatican II transformation of the University Catholic Center. Following an NIMH Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute, she was appointed to the faculty in the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate school before accepting a position at Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. While there she was invited by Wesleyan to become head of the mental health service.

She held a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology and was member of the American Psychological Association, the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, the Society for Psychotherapy Research, and the Association of Social Psychiatry.

Dr. Coughlan served for eight years as the Chair of the Connecticut Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services and as a Governor’s appointee to the Community Mental Health Strategy Board.

Her publications were in psychotherapy, instrumentation (process and outcome), mental retardation, and sexual violence.

Dr. Coughlan is survived by her husband Neil and son John, daughter-in-law Karen and grandson Patrick, brother-in-law Paul, sister-in-law Tina, and nieces Nicole and Monica. Her full obituary is posted in The Hartford Courant.