Frequently Asked Questions

What is counseling?

"Counseling" and "therapy" are often used interchangeably. It is basically talking with a trained professional about issues related to your mental or emotional health in an effort to gain greater insight about yourself, to relieve emotional distress, to make desired changes in your emotional, interpersonal, academic life, and to improve your daily functioning and satisfaction.

What are some reasons why students seek counseling?

Students come to counseling for a wide range of concerns. Many students have issues related to developmental concerns, such as questions about their identity or relationship issues, while others may be dealing with more specific concerns such as depression, anxiety, stress, childhood or adult trauma, grief and loss, substance abuse, eating and body image concerns or suicidal thoughts. For some students, they may not be able to articulate exactly what is wrong, but they may be having trouble focusing in class, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, low energy and motivation, trouble adjusting or just difficulty functioning in general. The therapist can help students explore what might be going on and work together to address their concerns.

How can I be seen at CAPS?

Who will know what I talk about in my counseling sessions?

In order to ensure a safe environment for students to explore their personal concerns all counseling services are confidential. This means that our staff will not reveal the identity of students who seek our services, will not confirm or deny a student's participation in counseling, and will not provide any details about what has been discussed in counseling without the student's written consent. We do not give information to parents or to other offices or departments within the university without a student's written consent. Similarly, information about participation in counseling will not appear on a student's academic records.

Students may request to have information shared with the person(s) of their choice and can sign a release granting us permission to share confidential counseling information. However, it is because of the strength of our belief in the importance of you feeling safe about sharing information about yourself with your clinician that we want to inform you of the times when we might legally and/or ethically be required to share information about you without your consent. A summary follows:

  • Information released to other professionals involved in your treatment. Most commonly, this would be the other members of the counseling staff at CAPS, or the psychiatric staff of the University of Houston Student Health Center ("Student Health Center") if you are also being seen there.
  • If you are under 18, your parents or legal guardian(s) may have access to your records and may authorize their release to other parties.
  • If you are reasonably suspected to be in imminent danger of harming yourself or someone else.
  • If you disclose abuse or neglect of children, the elderly, or disabled persons.
  • If you disclose sexual misconduct by a therapist.
  • To qualified personnel for certain kinds of program audits or evaluations.
  • In criminal court proceedings.
  • In legal or regulatory actions against a professional.
  • Upon the issuance of a court order or lawfully issued subpoena.
  • Where otherwise legally required.

The above is considered to be only a summary. If you have questions about specific situations or any aspect of the confidentiality of CAPS records, please ask a member of the counseling staff.

What if I need information about my visits to be shared with my medical doctor or another professional?

CAPS clinicians may only share your information with your written consent. You may sign an Authorization to Release Mental Health Information/Records form to give us permission to communicate with the person(s) you designate.

What kind of services are offered at CAPS?

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers a variety of services including:

  • Walk-ins for the initial contact and crises
  • Treatment Planning
  • Referrals
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Individual, group, and couples counseling
  • Outreach education and prevention (e.g., includes workshops and trainings on a variety of mental health topics, suicide prevention training, Helping Students of Concern)
  • Consultation for faculty and staff regarding individuals of concern

Who is eligible for services?

All currently enrolled students at the University of Houston are eligible for clinical services at CAPS. Walk-ins, treatment planning appointment, group counseling, and crises are free of charge. Please check our Eligibility Section for more details.

Who will be my therapist and what are their qualifications?

In most cases, your therapist will be assigned based on availability and appropriate qualifications. We will do our best to notify you of the approximate wait time for assignment. Your therapist may be a licensed psychologist, licensed master’s level clinician, or graduate trainee. CAPS serves as a training site for graduate students in Masters and Doctoral Psychology programs. Graduate trainees are under close supervision by licensed professional staff member. Our staff biographies provide detailed information about each clinician’s areas of interest and expertise.

How long are the sessions and how often can I meet with my therapist?

Individual and couples Sessions are approximately 45-50 minutes and students usually meet with the same therapist once a week initially, and as therapy progresses, the frequency may move to biweekly or less frequently depending on need and availability. CAPS is primarily a brief treatment setting. Long-term, intensive care is typically not available at CAPS, but we can help you determine how to best manage your care. We have a variety of referral options and will help connect you to the most appropriate one if we feel it will best serve you. On average, students will meet with their therapist for 6 sessions within an academic year.

How can I get the most out of counseling?

  • Be an active participant.
    You will get the most out of counseling if you are open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. If you are feeling embarrassed or concerned about sharing something important, start by telling your therapist how you are feeling about disclosing that information. Together with your therapist, we can help you to gradually work toward what is difficult to say by taking one step at a time.
  • Be committed to your treatment and keep your appointments.
    Try not to miss your sessions and fight the urge of avoiding your appointment when things get tough. It is often during these moments that you will benefit the most from counseling.
  • Be empowered by what you can do.
    This is your counseling. Your therapist is a guide, a resource and an ally in the process but only you can make the changes you desire in your life. Counseling works best when you put some thought into what you want to discuss each session.
  • Be open and willing.
    Therapy isn’t easy. People commonly experience a wide range of emotions during the course of counseling, which can at times be difficult and/or upsetting. That said, if you are uncomfortable, feeling stuck, or not benefitting from therapy, do bring up your concerns about your treatment with your therapist.
  • Be patient.
    Counseling is not magic pill, it is a process. The way you see yourself, your behavioral patterns and coping strategies have been learned and reinforced over time; it will take time to untangle them and make the changes you desire.
  • Be as specific about your goals as possible.
    You know your goals and priorities best. Think about what changes are most meaningful to you and focus your energy on defining counseling goals and working towards those goals both in and out of session.

What happens if I have an urgent concern?

Are there session limits to the services provided?

Clients do not have a set number of sessions. Treatment plans are tailored for each client's concerns based on the brief therapy model of CAPS. Most of our clients seek short term assistance and see our clinicians for 1 to 5 individual counseling sessions.

What are the fees for services?

Where are you located and what are your office hours?

The Student Service Center 1 is located at UH Entrance 6, between the University of Houston Health Center and the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building. CAPS is on the 2nd floor at the end of the hall.

Is there parking near your building?

The closest student parking lot (9C) is located on Wheeler Street. There is also metered parking along Entrance 6.

Is your building accessible?

Yes, there is a ramp that leads to the front door of our building and there are two elevators located in the front entrance area that lead to the reception area of our office on the second floor. Also, the restrooms on the second floor are accessible for wheelchairs as are all the offices at CAPS.

I am interested in couples counseling but my partner is not a UH student. Can we be seen at CAPS?

Couples counseling is available to UH students and their partners, who do not need to be affiliated with UH.

What if a parent/loved one or a faculty/staff member is concerned about a student?

CAPS staff is available to consult about a concern that a third party might have about a student. Strategies for helping the student and, if appropriate, referring the student to CAPS or another health care provider can be discussed. Please contact us at 713.743.5454 and let the receptionist know that you want to consult with the consultant on duty.

For detailed information regarding faculty, staff, and parent resources please choose from the following options:

Do you provide workshops and presentations on campus?

Outreach education and prevention is a key element of CAPS services, which includes the development of effective training and workshops that promote learning. We offer trainings on how to recognize the signs of an individual who is struggling or at risk and how to refer them for treatment (Helping Students of Concern), on suicide prevention (QPR), or on a specific mental health topic by request. Also popular is our skills-based workshops that takes place every Wednesday from 12-1 pm on topics such as, Coping with Mid-Semester Stress, Beating the Blues: Understanding Depression, or Got Stress? How to Relax before Finals.These workshops are free and are held at CAPS; please consult the workshop schedule for the most current listings. If you would like to schedule a training for your student organization, department, or college, please complete our outreach request form. Note: requests made with less than two weeks’ notice are not guaranteed to be fulfilled due to our priority on clinical services.

Can CAPS assist me with my class assignment?

CAPS is committed to supporting the educational mission of the university and providing mentorship to students interested in the helping professions. Given that we must prioritize students seeking clinical services, and often receive multiple requests from students requesting interviews, all requests for interviews must be submitted at least 3 weeks in advance of the assignment due date. We cannot guarantee requests with less notice will be fulfilled.

What are the available self-help resources?

We have a Self-Help Resources section on our website that includes videos on mental health topics, audio relaxation exercises, yoga & meditation resources and mental health related websites. Please visit our self help resources for more information.