Below is a list of frequently asked questions that CAPS often receives from the university community. We have attempted to answer each question as best we can. If the specific question that you have is not below, please feel free to contact the CAPS office at (847) 491-2151.
What Services does CAPS provide?
CAPS offers a variety of services including counseling, consultation, and developmental programming/outreach. Click on the services link for more information.
Who is eligibile for services at CAPS?
Currently enrolled, full-time undergraduate and graduate/professional students on both Evanston and Chicago campuses are eligible for services at CAPS. All part-time students and students enrolled in seminary programs and in the School of Continuing Studies are only eligible for crisis and referral services.
How do I make an appointment?
When you call CAPS at 847-491-2151, you will make a same-day phone appointment to speak briefly with one of our clinicians. The clinician will gather some information in order to determine which services will best meet your needs. That may mean scheduling an in-person intake at CAPS or providing a referral to another university service or to services off-campus.
What can I expect from my first appointment?
During your first appointment, or intake, you will meet in person with one of our clinicians. First you will be asked to complete some paperwork which will take approximately 15 minutes. Then you will meet with the clinician who will ask for detailed information about your background as well as the reason(s) why you are coming in to CAPS. After obtaining a fuller picture of your concerns, the clinician will make treatment recommendations. This may involve ongoing treatment at CAPS or referral to a community provider who can better meet your needs. The face-to-face portion of the intake usually lasts about 50 minutes.
How long do I have to wait to get an appointment?
When you initially call in, you will usually schedule a brief phone conversation, or triage appointment, on the same day. If an in-person intake is recommended, those are usually scheduled within a week, depending on your availability. Assignment to an ongoing therapist tends to happen about a week later except during busy times of the year. The earlier in the year that you schedule with CAPS, the less likely it is that you will have to wait to see a therapist.
What if I am in crisis and need to talk with someone right away?
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency room. If your crisis is non-life threatening, CAPS always has someone who you can meet with in-person during normal business hours (M-Fr 8:30 am – 5:00 pm). Call our main number (847-491-2151) and ask to schedule with the crisis counselor. Should you experience a crisis outside of business hours, CAPS has a crisis counselor available by telephone. Call the CAPS answering service at 847-491-8100 and ask them to contact the CAPS therapist on-call.
Does CAPS have a limit on the number of sessions a student can be seen?
Counseling at CAPS is based on a short-term model. Full-time matriculated students may be eligible for up to 12 on-going therapy sessions over the course of their degree program at Northwestern.
How much does CAPS cost?
There is no charge for CAPS services.
What is CAPS policy on Confidentiality?
CAPS adheres to professional ethical standards and all state and federal laws regarding confidentiality. All information is confidential unless you sign a written release of information. There are some exceptions by law, e.g., harm to yourself or someone else and ongoing child or elder abuse. In these cases, CAPS either has reporting responsibilities or has to intervene in some way. For a more complete explanation, please read the CAPS confidentiality policy.
Will my parents, faculty, and/or others be informed that I am going to CAPS?
No. Unless you have signed a written release of information for CAPS.
Can CAPS help me find a therapist off-campus?
One of the services CAPS provides is assisting students in connecting with appropriate services in the community, when appropriate. Call us for information. We have a variety of providers to choose from who work regularly with Northwestern University students.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
Both a psychiatrist and psychologist work in the mental health field. A psychiatrist possesses a Medical Degree (MD) and can prescribe medication, whereas a psychologist earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology and provides talk therapy. Here at CAPS psychologists and psychiatrists work collaboratively to provide mental health treatment for NU students as part of a treatment team.
Does CAPS prescribe psychiatric medication?
Our psychiatrists work in conjunction with our therapists to provide medication for clients in ongoing therapy here at CAPS. If you’re just looking for medication management, check with your insurance company or give us a call and we can assist you with locating a psychiatrist in the community.
I think my friend should talk to someone at CAPS. What can I do?
Please see our section on this issue. We also would recommend reviewing various handouts on caring confrontations: tips for caring confrontations, tips for talking with a friend who may have a drug or alcohol problem, and tips for talking with a friend who may have an eating disorder.
How do I know whether I should utilize CAPS services?
While just about anyone could benefit from taking the time to reflect on his or her life to gain insight or to increase self-awareness, there are many people for whom participating in therapy or other CAPS services would improve their quality of life. We recommend that a student contact CAPS if your distress in life has recently increased or if your overall life satisfaction is not where you want it to be.
I am going or am considering going on Study Abroad, what should I do to prepare for dealing with my emotional and mental health while abroad?
CAPS works very close with the Study Abroad Office to assist student in making the decision to engage in an international experience. If you are currently in treatment, it is important to talk with your providers about what you should do to ensure adequate support while abroad. If you have never needed or sought mental health services, it is still a wise idea to plan for what issues may arise while abroad and what resources may be available to you. In collaboration with CAPS, the Study Abroad Office has created a very useful page for students who are considering or who are preparing to go abroad. We encourage you to click on the link below to learn more about these important issues.