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Counseling FAQs

What services does CAPS offer?

We provide a variety of services including:

  • individual therapy
  • counseling for all members of a relationship (including roommate and romantic relationships)
  • 24/7 crisis intervention
  • group therapy
  • support, and discussion group
  • skills and wellness workshops
  • consultations with students, faculty, staff, and family members if they are concerned about a student’s mental health
  • presentations on mental health topics to student groups/staff/faculty
  • referrals to community resources

Who can utilize CAPS services?

Currently enrolled SSU students who have paid the mental health fee (part of the registration fees) are eligible for our services. Extended Education and Open University students are also eligible for services (their fee is paid directly to CAPS by their program). For relationship counseling, all individuals in the relationship must be enrolled SSU students.  If you are a student unsure of your eligibility, please contact us. Faculty, staff, and family members may also receive consultation services if concerned about a student’s mental health.

Is there a cost for services?

No. You will not be charged for visits.

How many visits am I eligible for?

Generally, we provide short-term therapy with appointments every few weeks. Group therapy, workshops, and crisis appointments are not limited.

Are services at CAPS confidential?

Yes, your confidentiality is protected. There are occasional legal exceptions that your counselor will explain to you at your first meeting.

Who works at CAPS?

CAPS staff members include professional therapists and psychologists with special interest and experience in working with college students.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment with a CAPS staff member, please call (707) 664-2153 to request an appointment or to speak to a counselor for urgent concerns. You can also make an appointment by coming into the office (Building 17A, behind Salazar) during office hours, or by emailing us at

When are appointments available?

Appointments are available Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 .

What if my needs are urgent?

Please call us immediately. 24/7 counseling is available to all (even those not in crisis) after hours and on weekends. Please visit our Crisis Services page for more information and examples of urgent concerns. 

If I go to CAPS, does that mean there's something wrong with me?

No, it doesn’t. Students utilize our services for many reasons. Some use our services because they are interested in their personal growth and navigating life challenges. Many students face normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at SSU, and may sometimes feel anxious, angry, or depressed. Many students are impacted by chronic stress and/or traumatic experiences, and may sometimes feel isolated or self-critical. The current socio-political climate impacts many students and need support.  Many students are exploring aspects of their identities and need space to explore and discuss.

Whatever reasons and experiences prompt you to utilize CAPS services, seeking a confidential, non-judgmental space for yourself in therapy to attend to your well-being does not mean something is wrong with you. Oftentimes, processing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with a neutral professional can assist you in clarifying and identifying your needs and goals, seeing different perspectives, finding alternative behaviors or coping strategies for yourself, and more.

What can I talk with my counselor about?

Your counselor will act as a facilitator to help you express your concerns and what may be troubling you. They'll ask questions from a place of curiosity and compassion to gain understanding.  You are welcome to express any concerns you would like, and we understand that sharing certain concerns or experiences can take time as you and your counselor build a trusting relationship. Sometimes, you may know quite clearly “what’s bothering you,” and your counselor will help you develop additional strategies for navigating these concerns. At other times, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly “what’s bothering you,” but instead you notice more general feelings such as feeling “anxious,” “depressed,” or “unmotivated.” You might also notice physical or behavioral signs such as irritability, sleep difficulties, or stomach pains.

Your counselor can help you clarify these feelings by offering feedback about what they are hearing or observing. Students discuss a variety of topics with their counselors, including but not limited to 

  • relationship issues 
  • self-esteem 
  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • loneliness 
  • adjusting to college 
  • identity development
  • self-injury
  • multicultural or diversity issues like the impact of systemic oppression or discrimination
  • sexuality
  • eating issues 
  • suicidal thoughts
  • substance use issues
  • perfectionism
  • academic concerns such as procrastination and low motivation
  • and more

Will anyone else have access to information about me?

Everything you discuss with your counselor is kept confidential by CAPS. With rare exceptions, our staff will not release information to anyone outside of CAPS without your permission to release that information. The exceptions to confidentiality are based on legality and include the belief that there is an imminent danger of harm to yourself or someone else, or if we need to report child, dependent, or elder abuse. In California, intentionally viewing child pornography is treated as child abuse and requires a report. In addition to these exceptions to confidentiality, a court order or subpoena may require a release of records. Your counselor will discuss these exceptions with you at your first meeting.

What qualifications do counselors have?

Counselors all hold master's or doctoral degrees in counseling, clinical psychology, or social work. They are licensed by the State of California as psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or professional clinical counselors. If they have not yet obtained licensure, they have completed their degrees and are meeting the final requirements for licensure. If this is the case, their work is supervised by another licensed staff member. Your counselor will discuss this with you and provide their supervisor's contact information.

How long may I be seen?

Counseling and Psychological Services welcomes all students to make an initial appointment to meet with one of our counselors and discuss their concerns. During this initial meeting, the counselor, in collaboration with the student, will recommend services within CAPS or off-campus to assist students in obtaining the appropriate services to meet their needs.  We also offer single-session therapy without a consultation to those students with immediate non-emergency needs.

For those who engage in ongoing individual or relational counseling, CAPS uses a short-term model of care to address issues common to college students. The number of individual or relational counseling sessions available to students is limited so that CAPS can best serve the needs of all SSU students. Decisions about the number of sessions a student may have are based on the student's needs, available resources, and the overall student demand for services. The number of group sessions and workshops is unlimited, as appropriate.

What if I need to be seen longer or more often than my CAPS counselor can provide?

If your concerns require long-term or more intensive counseling, we will help you connect with a private counselor or community agency. 

What if I am concerned about a friend or roommate?

You can set a regular or urgent appointment and talk with a counselor about what you can do to help your friend and/or how to encourage them to see a counselor. If you think your friend is in a serious crisis and may harm themselves or someone else, call 911 immediately. 

Can I request a particular counselor?

No, CAPS is unable to honor requests for particular counselors. We assign students to counselors based on schedule availability. However, if you have a preference concerning gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or another aspect of identity, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. If you have any concerns about the counselor you are assigned to, we welcome you to discuss those concerns in the first session with your counselor. Should you meet with a counselor and feel they are not a good fit for you, please contact us to request a reassignment. The director will review your request and reassign you if needed and if another counselor is available to better meet your needs.

If you know that a particular CAPS counselor is seeing a close friend, roommate, or relational partner, please let us know when scheduling your appointment. It is best that you not be seen by the same counselor.

What if I need to talk with someone on evenings or weekends?

You can reach a counselor by calling the CAPS phone number 24/7 (707) 664-2153. If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please use one of the following resources: Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room OR call the Sonoma County Crisis Line at (707) 576-8181.

Can I bring my Emotional Support Animal to my counseling session?

CAPS is not able to permit Emotional Support Animals on site because they are not considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act. CAPS complies with federal and state disability civil rights laws and does welcome service animals. SSU requires that any student using a service animal on campus request such accommodation by contacting Disability Services for Students. DSS is located in Schulz 1014a and can be contacted by phone at (707) 664-2677, or via the DSS website.

How long are counseling sessions?

CAPS appointments are typically 30 minutes to 50 minutes long. The duration depends on multiple factors, such as the type of appointment scheduled, individual student needs, and clinician availability. For example, regular individual counseling sessions with the counselor you regularly see are typically scheduled for 45 to 50 minutes. Appointments may also be shorter if you prefer, for example, a brief 15-minute check-in with your counselor.

What is single-session counseling?

Single-session counseling is an option for you if you have an immediate concern but are unsure if you want ongoing counseling.  When services are in high demand, signing up for a single counseling session may allow you to have a session sooner than you would if you were requesting ongoing counseling.

Will my needs and concerns be met from single-session counseling?

It depends on each person. Some students receive just what they need in one session (e.g., tools, guidance, clarifying goals/needs), and some students may benefit from having more time and space in therapy to thoroughly address their unique concerns and needs. If you do schedule a single session of therapy, you will have the opportunity to discuss scheduling another appointment if it feels like it would be beneficial for you.

Can a CAPS counselor write a letter for me to withdraw from a class?

Sometimes faculty or staff refer students who have been experiencing academic difficulties to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) requesting a letter "verifying" personal problems that may have interfered with their academic performance. At times serious personal problems do interfere with one's ability to concentrate on studies. Although counselors want to be supportive when they can, it is important for faculty, staff and students to understand that counselors cannot confirm difficulties of which they have very little knowledge.

If students have not had several sessions with CAPS, a professional evaluation of the impact of mental health issues on academics can not be made. In this case, only a copy of the student’s attendance record will be provided. This documentation may not very helpful and should not serve as verification that CAPS supports excused absences or withdrawal from any course.

On the other hand, if a student has been seen for ongoing counseling while experiencing psychological difficulties, counselors may be able to write a supportive letter. Note, however, that CAPS will only write a letter supporting withdrawal from all courses. We assume that if the psychological condition was significant enough to cause the type of distress that would warrant late withdrawal from one course, then the student will likely need to withdraw from the entire semester.

If you believe a student is experiencing personal difficulties that may be negatively impacting their academic performance and that they might benefit from counseling, it is generally most helpful to suggest the student seek counseling early on, in order to help prevent such difficulties impacting them later on in the semester.

Students who have not had ongoing counseling sessions at CAPS are encouraged to seek letters of support from individuals directly involved with their case such as past or present therapists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, or other appropriate professionals.

If a student has a documented disability for which they are requesting or receiving accommodations, please refer them to Disability Services for Students (DSS) for assistance (707- 664-2677).

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in these matters. If you have specific questions, contact CAPS at 707-664-2153.
(Adapted and modified from the web pages of Texas A & M University Student Counseling Services)

Once I begin therapy, am I required to attend weekly? I have an impacted schedule with many responsibilities and demands.

No, you are not required to attend weekly therapy. You and your counselor can discuss each other’s availability and your preferences for scheduling your next appointment. 

Can CAPS counselors prescribe medication? Is there a psychiatrist at CAPS who I can see?

CAPS does not prescribe medication. For students to obtain psychiatric medication, they must see a physician or psychiatrist to assess their needs and have appropriate medication(s) prescribed.  Please get in touch with the Student Health Center on-campus, your primary care physician off-campus, and/or a psychiatrist through your health insurance plan. If you have questions about this process, please call us at CAPS, and we will try to help connect you with the appropriate referrals and resources for psychiatric medication.

I am going to graduate from SSU soon, but am interested in seeking counseling services. Should I reach out to CAPS before graduating, or should I instead just begin the process of finding a counselor in the community?

You are welcome to reach out to CAPS at any time, even if you are approaching graduation. If you are graduating soon, you may only be seen a few times. However, even if you meet with a CAPS counselor for just one session before graduating, you may be able to discuss important topics with your counselor in that session such as clarifying some of your goals/hopes for therapy when you get connected to a therapist in the community for open-ended therapy after you graduate; tools and tips for self-care during your final weeks of college; helpful resources and referrals in the community to utilize after you graduate; and more.

I think that my family member (who is a Sonoma State student) would benefit from attending counseling at CAPS. How might I talk with my loved one about the benefits of counseling, and encourage them to reach out to CAPS for support?

It may be helpful to to inform your SSU student about some of the benefits of counseling, the importance of mental health/wellness, that CAPS services are confidential, and to encourage your student to visit our website or to call CAPS to learn more about our counselors and the services we provide. We recognize that many barriers and challenges (including systemic, individual, generational, and more) can make it difficult for students to reach out for help and counseling. Expressing your care and concern to your family members and helping to reduce some of the shame and stigma associated with therapy may help them reach out. Please note you cannot call to schedule an appointment for your SSU student. They must call CAPS themselves to ensure their voluntary participation in counseling and that we protect the student’s privacy.