At CAPS we work hard to create confidential, collaborative, and supportive therapeutic relationships with our students. We view these relationships as central to the therapeutic process and to growth and change. Part of this process is being open to feedback about how students are experiencing these relationships. Feedback can be about things that are going well but also about experiences or exchanges that leave students feeling misunderstood, confused or worse, aggressed upon, (re)traumatized, and/or hurt.
While all of CAPS staff, including senior staff, trainees, and contractors engage in ongoing continuing education around matters pertinent to working with college aged students in order limit potential missteps, we also know that these unfortunately happen. We recognize that these moments can be incredibly damaging. Not only are they directly hurtful, but they also create ruptures within the therapeutic relationship and shake the foundations of trust in CAPS that so much of therapy is based upon.
Accordingly, we encourage students, when possible to be direct and honest with their therapists about their experiences in therapy, especially moments of hurt and pain. Senior staff, trainees, and contractors all value this type of feedback and are trained to hearing it in a non-defensive and reflective manner. We view feedback as essential to the meaningful relationships we hope to co-create.
Having said this, we also know that numerous dynamics, especially power differences and fear of re-traumatization (to name two) may make providing this feedback difficult. Having to talk about experiences that have been wounding in order to then address them places a further unfair burden upon the patient, in essence forcing them to not only survive the experience but then be vulnerable in sharing it. While we think there can be tremendous value in bringing these experiences directly to us, we also want to create other avenues for feedback as well.
For these reasons, we send out an annual anonymous feedback survey at the end of the academic year. However, this survey can be accessed at any time of the year to provide real-time feedback. We have also created a more specific anonymous feedback form to report a specific problem (or set of problems) that will also generate real-time information.
When we receive your feedback, we will work to address it directly. Notably, some of the ways we address feedback may not always be visible to you as these processes occur within staff meetings. We appreciate your patience and trust in these matters. Lastly, please note that the extent to which we can address specific issues often entails how detailed and specific the feedback provided is. While it can be difficult for the reasons stated above to provide detailed feedback, including specific instances (good or bad) the more information we have, the easier it is to address.