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. The initial assessment is an biopsychosocial and diagnostic clinical interview. Interns provide weekly initial assessments for students who schedule in advance, and who present for this service during interns' 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 client’s concerns and symptoms, clinical presentation, background and demographics, and risk level, and determines the services and resources that are recommended to address their needs. From the initial assessment, next steps may include additional assessment, group therapy, short-term individual therapy at CAPS, referral to off-campus treatment (with assistance from CAPS Care Coordinators), follow-up case management, or community-based intervention/outreach programming.
On occasion, same-day appointments will also involve consultation with third parties (e.g., peers, parents, faculty, staff, and community providers) to facilitate a student's access to crisis support/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.
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 multiple 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 therapy group, may also participate in curriculum development and pre-group orientation/screening appointments.
In the spirit of community-based prevention and strengths-based positive psychology, outreach and educational 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. Community-based intervention also includes support following campus critical incidents, informational sessions about CAPS services, social media programming/campaigns, and campus liaison collaborations.
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 requests consultation, assistance with emergencies that require hospital care, or systems coordination in complex situations.