BY RIDA KAYANI, STAFF WRITER
University Life’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has introduced a new way to schedule counseling appointments called initial consultations
According to CAPS, the initial consultations, created from the feedback provided by the student body and community, are a way to decrease the time it takes for a student to speak and connect with a clinician. Students can expect to have an appointment set up with a clinician anywhere between one to four days after requesting help.
CAPS acts as the primary provider for mental health services for Mason students. Their services include offering clinical assessments from their qualified clinicians, group therapy sessions, providing appropriate information and resources and overall coaching and consultations.
As early as this fall, initial consultation appointment set-ups will be offered primarily through a phone-basis.
Dr. Barbara Meehan, the executive director for CAPS, said that having the service extend beyond a face-to-face interaction broadens the accessibility of services to the students, regardless of where they are located. This way, the speed at which students can receive help or assistance is greatly increased.
In the past, CAPS operated under a different procedure for incoming calls from students.
Meehan described the previous scheduling process as one in which a student would speak with a CAPS administrator and, based on the information they shared, receive the appropriate type of appointment. A student would receive either an immediate crisis appointment or an appointment later that same day, or, if the request is not urgent, a future appointment several weeks out.
Despite the scheduling change, the department will still offer immediate responsive action towards students in acute crisis, where Meehan said, “[CAPS will] continue to offer immediate crisis appointments and will speak with any student at any time.”
Although the services offered through CAPS are strictly confidential and irrelevant to a student’s academic record, Meehan said that there is a disparity between students seeking services at CAPS based on the severity of their condition.
“Some students think of Counseling and Psychological Services as a place to turn only when they are feeling really bad. While we are absolutely available for those experiencing acute emotional distress, we are also a great place to turn for students who need support managing day to day challenges,” Meehan said.
With the new initial consultations, students can be guaranteed access to a clinician in a timely manner, according to Meehan.
According to Meehan, CAPS will continuously seek to enhance their services and experiences for its students through active communication between the community and the department. Dr. Meehan also encourages students to visit the GMU CAPS website at http://caps.gmu.edu/ to find more information about the wide array of services provided.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please refer to the list of emergency contacts below:
GMU 24 hour Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Hotline
Veterans’ Crisis Hotline
Counseling and Psychological Services