Direct Service Activities
Interns work full-time for the Evanston CAPS office, which serves approximately 8,000 undergraduate students and 8,000 graduate students. At this time, CAPS direct/clinical services are delivered via both telehealth and in-person modalities.
Each intern carries an individual therapy caseload of approximately 20-25 clients to whom they provide short-term therapy services. Up to two clients on an intern's caseload may be eligible for longer-term therapy services. Interns are also responsible for the case management, advocacy, and clinical documentation for these clients.
Initial Assessment, Consultation, and Crisis Intervention Services
As a first point of contact, students seeking services from CAPS may either schedule an initial assessment or request a same-day appointment for initial assessment. Interns provide weekly brief initial assessments for students who schedule in advance, and are also assigned a weekly same-day access shift (i.e., daytime on-call hours). Same-day appointments may be of a more routine nature, or they may involve greater urgency and higher distress, requiring in-depth risk assessment and crisis intervention.
When meeting with students for scheduled or same-day initial assessments, the provider gathers information about a student’s concerns, clinical presentation, background and demographics, and risk level, and determines the type of services that are best-suited to their needs. From the initial assessment, next-step services may include additional assessment, group therapy, short-term individual therapy at CAPS, crisis appointment, referral to off-campus treatment (with assistance from CAPS Care Coordinators), follow-up case management, or outreach and educational programming.
Same-day access appointments will also necessitate consultation with third parties (e.g., peers, parents, faculty, staff, and community providers) to facilitate a student's treatment or provide guidance for those with concerns about a student's mental health. The same-day access system is monitored by a member of the CAPS Leadership Team, who is available for clinical and administrative consultation. To be effective in the role of same-day access clinician, like staff, interns are encouraged to consult as needed.
Extended Intake Assessment
For new therapy clients on their caseloads, interns conduct biopsychosocial intake assessments/clinical interviews, gathering information beyond what is typically manageable at the point of access. Interns integrate available data from intake paperwork (CCAPS, AUDIT, SDS) with clinical information gathered from the interview to develop a diagnostic formulation and treatment plan for the client, and to collaborate with the client to initiate appropriate services at CAPS, on campus, or in the community.
Interns are given priority to co-facilitate therapy groups with senior staff. CAPS typically offers semi-structured and structured psychoeducational groups, support groups, and interpersonal process groups. Briefer psychoeducational groups may be offered quarterly and meet for 1 hour weekly. Interpersonal process groups may continue for mutiple quarters and meet for 1.5 hours weekly. Interns received 30 minutes weekly of individual supervision for each group they co-facilitate. They assist with clinical documentation, and depending on the type of therapy group, may also participate in pre-group screening/orientation interviews.
In the spirit of community-based prevention and strengths-based positive psychology, outreach and education programming are group-based interventions aimed at fostering the mental wellness of Northwestern University community, including students, staff, and faculty.
Community-based intervention programming varies by topic and format, and might include presentations on cultural, developmental, and mental health issues for students (e.g. acculturative stress, relationship and communication skills, body image and eating disorders, depression, test anxiety, sleep, mindfulness), paraprofessional skill training sessions for staff and faculty, and debriefing or support spaces for critical incidents, or presentations about CAPS services. Programming may also be developed through liaison partnerships CAPS staff have with campus partners (e.g., Coffee Talk).
Interns rotate with staff to provide after-hours on-call crisis coverage. On average, interns are responsible for covering 3 weeknights and one weekend per academic quarter. CAPS contracts with an external agency (ProtoCall) that screens calls from students during evenings and weekends and manages most urgent needs. The CAPS on-call counselor is contacted only when the ProtoCall counselor needs consultation, assistance with emergencies that require hospital care, or systems coordination in complex situations. CAPS sets the threshold of consultation from ProtoCall to limit the afterhours workload for staff and interns to only extreme and necessary circumstances.