Yes, confidentiality is the cornerstone of CAPS. Review "Confidentiality" for a more thorough explanation of the steps we take to keep your information safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is our work confidential? Who knows that I have gone to see a counselor?
Are there limits to confidentiality during CAPS sessions? If so, what are these limits? How do CAPS therapists work with these limits?
Yes, as outlined in our consent forms there are a few limits to confidentiality when seeing a therapist. These tend to fall under our legal requirements to “protect” minors and elders around physical and emotional abuse. This can include suspected abuse. Also, we have to report in accordance with Pennsylvania law that mandates our having a duty to warn when there may be harm to self or other.
More information about mandated reporting can be found in the PA Department of Human Services' "Mandated Reporters FAQ" and Tarasoff reporting (duty to warn) can be found on the American Psychological Association's website.
CAPS staff, trainees and contractors engage in bi-yearly continuing education around these matters to ensure that we are as up to date as possible on what is legally required of us.
Notably, at CAPS we also strive to work transparently and openly when possible around these situations. If needed, we seek independent, confidential outside counsel made available to us by our various licensing agencies (i.e. American Psychological Association, National Social worker Association). When possible, if we have concerns about reporting we will bring these directly to a student in clear ways to let them know our concerns and work to figure out how to best navigate these situations in ways that both uphold the law but also are sensitive to the individual situation.
We know how these laws can further damage marginalized individuals and communities, not to mention undermine therapeutic relationships. As we prioritize both our students and our relationships it is crucially important that we only report when we absolutely have to as mandated by law and that we work to do so in as transparently as possible.
Please note that these laws are often changing and vary by state. If you have questions about reporting, confidentiality, or anything else pertaining to these laws, please do not hesitate to email us at: HC-CAPS [at] Haverford.edu.
What does CAPS cost?
While counseling and psychiatric consultations are available throughout the year at no charge to Haverford students, students are responsible for paying for any medications that may be prescribed to them.
Can I request to see a particular counselor, or someone of a specific race or gender?
Absolutely. When you contact Patty please feel free to mention any specifics and depending upon availability and timing, we will do our best to honor these requests.
I've met with a counselor and I do not think we are a good fit. Can I switch to someone else? How would I do this?
We recognize and value the importance of "fit" and your relationship to your counselor. If you want to switch, you can do so without offending your counselor. Simply call or email Patty Rawlings and she will do her best to schedule you with another available counselor as soon as possible. Alternatively, your counselor would be very open and interested in hearing what you think is not working or what does not feel right. Do not hesitate to bring in your concerns or worries to them. Sometimes talking it through with them may lead to a quicker resolution than trying to schedule with someone else.
I had a bad experience with my CAPS counselor! What can I do about it?
We’re very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with your counselor. Please know that we take these incidents seriously and want to be able to hear about what happened and work to repair your relationship with CAPS. CAPS staff, trainees and contractors are all trained to listen in a non-defensive and open way to feedback about what transpired that caused hurt and pain. We also recognize that this may not be possible to provide directly to that counselor and have feedback forms available to report bad experiences. Information about what can be done in these instances can be found on our Feedback page which includes a link to the Anonymous Feedback Form.
What do students talk about during sessions?
Students come to talk with us about all forms of things. They talk about their daily lives, such as problems with their roommates, friends or parents, or difficulties with classes, to more difficult topics such as feeling depressed or anxious. Students also talk about things that frighten them, such as scary thoughts they have or disconcerting behaviors they may have noticed doing. It is not uncommon for students to begin talking about one thing and then when that issue has resolved, to continue talking about other things that are bothering them.
Do students just come mainly to complain?
While sometimes complaining is part of it, students really come to try to resolve problems or conflicts that they are having. Through talking about things and putting our heads together, we can often see things in a new or different light that may help with making decisions or getting through difficult situations. We also encourage students to bring in things that they are excited about or that thrill them. We are interested in getting to know the entire student, and while the aspects of them that are troubling them are important, we know that they are more than that as well.
Why do CAPS counselors rarely give direct advice or tell students how to resolve problems?
At CAPS we feel that students are really the experts on themselves and that we are trying to get to know them in as much detail and depth as possible. As such, we feel that giving direct advice may short circuit the process of learning about oneself. We also feel that talking about things constructively and collaboratively opens up the possibility for achieving greater awareness and insight into what is currently going on. With insight, it can be easier for the student themselves to exercise his or her agency and make their own decisions. Awareness can also help students regulate their own experience better to become mindful of options or ideas they may otherwise have missed. Lastly, offering advice may be a way of asserting what our understanding of the "good life" is, and we value understanding what the "good life" is for each particular student.
Do counselors ever provide advice?
Yes, there are times when we may be more active helping students to make decisions, though this depends largely on the context and what is going on in their lives.
I've reached out to make an appointment, but it's been a few days and nothing has opened up, or I've been told that there is no one available, what's going on?
While we are generally able to schedule students within a day or two of them reaching out (if not that day), there are times in the semester when there is a large influx of students and it may take us a few days to offer times for student's to meet. We recognize that waiting can be excruciating and if you feel you need to be seen, please come in during our daily drop-in hours from 11 a.m.—12 p.m. or 2—3 p.m. Otherwise, we will get back to you with a time within a few more days. The more times you are able to give us in terms of your availability will help us respond as quickly as possible. Finally, do not give up, if you haven't heard from us, reach out again or as much as you need.
Do you have experts or counselors who specialize in particular areas, like eating disorders, sexual assault, OCD, or sports psychology?
The CAPS staff has a generalist orientation. This means that we are trained and have had considerable experience working with a wide range of psychological topics and concerns, including those listed above. View a full list of topics that students discuss with counselors. We feel confident in our ability to work with almost all of the challenges that students face and are continually working to stay up to date with current theories and techniques. Indeed, many counselors are interested in and have had additional training in working with specific issues, including trauma, eating disorders/body image issues, sexuality, cultural/race issues, and being first-generation college students. In some instances, a CAPS counselor may suggest that a student meet with a specialist off campus if they feel that the issue requires not only specialized care, but also more resources than we can offer here.
What happens when a student is referred off campus?
In these instances, CAPS certainly does not abandon this student. Rather, we will work with them to make connection to the appropriate resources and providers. If the student desires it, the counselor can maintain contact with that individual and in some cases help coordinate care.
If a student sees someone off campus can they come back and see a CAPS counselor at a later point in time?
Services at CAPS are always available to students free of charge. Students are welcome to return to CAPS at any time and with no questions asked.
How long can I see my therapist for?
We work with students closely to tailor the services they receive to their specific needs. This means that some students may only come to one or a few sessions, whereas, scheduling permitting other students may be seen for multiple sessions or over multiple years. We do not put a limit on the number of times a student can be seen per semester or year.