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.

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 Information form in the CAPS office allowing us 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:

  • Initial Consultations (ICONs)
  • Treatment Planning
  • Referrals
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Individual, couples, and group counseling
  • Outreach (e.g., include mental health workshops, mental health screenings, suicide prevention training)
  • Consultation with faculty and staff

Who is eligible for services?

All currently enrolled students at the University of Houston are eligible for clinical services at CAPS. Initial consultation (ICON) appointments are free for currently enrolled UH Students. ICON appointments are available at a subsidized fee for faculty and staff. Please check our Eligibility Section for more details.

How do I make an appointment?

If you are interested in counseling or assessment services, simply call CAPS at 713-743-5454 to arrange an initial consultation (ICON) appointment. ICON appointments are available throughout the week and can be scheduled at your convenience. The initial consultation appointment is your first appointment and is approximately 60-90 minutes long. If you are in need of any accommodations or assistance with completing your paperwork, please let the CAPS receptionist know at the time you are making the appointment.

What happens at my initial consultation appointment?

The initial consultation appointment is approximately 60-90 minutes long and is your introductory appointment at CAPS. The first 30 minutes will be used to complete paperwork which will allow you to provide information about your past and current emotional health. After you complete the paperwork, you will meet with a clinician to determine what kinds of services will best meet your needs. These may be CAPS services or referrals to other campus and community agencies. Be sure to ask questions if you have them, this will help you and the intake clinician build a collaborative working relationship from the beginning.

Who will be my therapist and what are their qualifications?

In most cases, your therapist will likely be the initial consultation (ICON) clinician with whom you met at your ICON appointment, unless otherwise indicated. He/she will either be a licensed psychologist or graduate student trainee. CAPS also 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. We make every effort to accommodate student requests to work with a particular clinician, but cannot always guarantee availability.

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?

Initial appointments, treatment planning sessions and group counseling are free to UH Students. Couples counseling is also available to UH students, and costs $10 per session. Effective January 2, 2013, Individual Counseling will be assessed a $5 fee per session. UH employees are only eligible for initial consultation appointments at a rate of $25 per session starting January 2, 2013. Please take a look at our fee schedule for more details about our specific fees.

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 programming is a key element of CAPS services, which includes the development of effective training and workshops that promote learning. Food for Thought Workshops are scheduled each semester to address various topics that will educate students and enhance skills. These workshops are free and are held at CAPS; please consult the workshop schedule for the most current listings. CAPS also offers QPR Suicide Prevention Training for the campus community. In addition, we would like to honor campus community requests for presentations on various mental health topics. In the event that we are unable to fulfill your request, we will consult with you to help you find another campus resource.

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.