FAQ

This is a living document that is updated regularly. It is a project designed to continuously increase transparency for CAPS and address other questions we get. If you have an idea for an FAQ, please send it to us ([email protected]) and we will likely add it to the list.

1. How long does it take to get an appointment?
2. When are the all same-day clinics?
3. How many sessions can I have at CAPS? 
4. How many students come in to CAPS every year? 
5. What kinds of counseling does CAPS offer?

6. Does CAPS offer long-term therapy?
7. If I come to CAPS, will I be referred to a community provider?
8. How diverse is the CAPS staff?
9. I didn't connect with my counselor, can I see someone else?
10. I already come to CAPS but want to meet with my counselor more frequently or for longer sessions, how can I do that?

11. I'm aboard for the semester, and need a counselor. Can CAPS do distance counseling on phone / email / video conference?
12. I would be more likely to go to CAPS if I knew the clinicians in advance, why don't they spend time on campus that isn't in CAPS?
13. What is the policy for making someone go to a hospital for being dangerous to themselves?
14. What is the policy for making someone receive treatment for mania or psychosis?
15. I have been reading about other schools forcing students onto a leave after talking with someone at their counseling center. What happens at Brown?

16. I was in the hospital for mental health concers and a hospital staff member said that I cannot be released without CAPS authorizing it, is this true?
17. I want to give you information about a student. Can you keep my call private from them?
18. I referred a student to CAPS who told me about scheduling problems. What should I do?
19. I want to schedule an appointment for a student. Can I do that for them?
20. I want CAPS to reach out to a student who I think needs your help. Can you do that?

21. Does CAPS provide competency evaluations for athletes, TAs, or other student activities?
22. Will CAPS complete an evaluation for a student abroad program?
23. Will CAPS provide documentation for SAS/SEAS?
24. I have a complaint or suggestion for CAPS, who should I contact?

1. How long does it take to get an appointment?
The most recent data showed an average of just under 3 days from the time of the call to the actual session. We have spots reserved every day for that same day that students can schedule by calling after 8:30am and asking for them (they usually sell out at some point). The range can be anywhere from literally no wait at all to about 10 days, and usually in those cases there are reasons for that length (like wanting to see a specific clinician, or a very limited student schedule), or other options available that the student does not choose. Before spring 2017, the wait for CAPS appointments was multiple weeks on average (so there is some truth to it being a long wait previously), but we made sweeping changes to that and have significantly reduced the time. 

2. When are the all same-day clinics?
In Fall 2017 CAPS piloted a new program during shopping period that was access to CAPS for the same day the person wanted it, guaranteed as long as you called beore 3pm. That was so successful that we also did it during reading and finals week. Check the main page of this website for the current semester's dates.

3. How many sessions can I have at CAPS? 
We do not have a session limit, so it really depends on your needs. CAPS historically had a limit of 5, that increased to 7 in the early 2000s, and then was eliminated entirely in Fall 2016. 

4. How many students come in to CAPS every year? 
We have been steadily seeing a larger percentage of students over the past 10 years. In 2007-2008, CAPS saw 15% of students for counseling. In 2018-2019 we saw 24% of students for counseling. Those numbers are slightly larger when taking psychiatry into account. These numbers are high nationally, but consistent with our peer institutions. We also think it reflects the openness students at Brown have in seeking care, positive experiences people have with us that they share with their friends, and the accessibility of our office. 

5. What kinds of counseling does CAPS offer?
Most clinicians in CAPS are "integrative" which means they blend a variety of styles into their approach. All of us incorporate relational, social justice, trauma-informed, and empirically supported lenses into our work. Additionally, we intentionally describe our work as "treatment" rather than "support." CAPS is here to help you get better and improve your life so that ideally you would not need continuous care from a professional. 

6. Does CAPS offer long-term therapy?
We do in some cases. There are many different things people mean when they say "long term therapy." Some common examples are one year of consistent weekly care for a defined problem, several years of once a month care for a chronic condition, episodic care where someone comes in for a few weeks or months over years with breaks in between, or biweekly sessions to check in and stay accountable on something, among many others. Many students do get long term care at CAPS in those formats, however, we are more often helping students connect to community care when they are doing well and are looking for a place to check in for maintenace and general support over months or years.

7. If I come to CAPS, will I be referred to a community provider?
The levels of referrals to community providers has varied over time. As recently ast 2016-2017, and consistent with our peer institutions, about 2/3 of students got all of their care at CAPS, and approximately 1/3 received some or all of their care in the community. This includes students being referred to hospitals for emergency care, specialized treatment programs, psychiatrists, and therapist over summer break, among others. Many of those students also continued care with us after those programs, but are included in the community referral numbers. In 2017-2018 we started overhauling how we make referrals to the community and now 81% of students get all of their care at CAPS, and 19% receive some of their care in the community. In 2018-2019, between 90-95% of all students coming to CAPS got all of their care on campus.

8. How diverse is the CAPS staff?
In the earlier years of CAPS, the staff was not very diverse. However, since the early 2010s, our staff has become much more diverse. Although it is always changing based on who is on our team, approximately 65% of our entire team consider themselves providers of color, many are members of the LGBTQ community, and we hold a wide a range of other identities. Those numbers are higher when considering just full time counseling staff. We are also becoming increasingly multilingual and international. 

9. I didn't connect with my counselor, can I see someone else?
In most cases students connect with their counselor, but sometimes it's just not a match. If that's the case, we suggest talking through whatever the situation is with the counselor to see if it can be resolved. Otherwise, you can  ask our front office to schedule you with someone else next time. 

10. I already come to CAPS but want to meet with my counselor more frequently or for longer sessions, how can I do that?
There is a wide range of lengths and frequencies of counseling at CAPS that we match to your unique needs and situation. If you want to talk about those options and possibilities, please ask your counselor about them next time you are in.

11. I'm aboard for the semester, and need a counselor. Can CAPS do distance counseling on phone / email / video conference?
International SOS can help arrange for mental health care while abroad. The first step is to register your trip with them (https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/safety/resources/international-sos) and then contact them to request a counselor near where you are. CAPS can only provide care in the CAPS office and other designated locations on campus. 

12. I would be more likely to go to CAPS if I knew the clinicians in advance, why don't they spend time on campus that isn't in CAPS?
Our clinicians actually do spend a good amout of time doing outreach, programming, and community building around the university and mostly in student spaces. We focus mostly on where we can engage with student communities where our expertise is also needed, in places of service (sometimes we are serving food, clearning tables, or offering help), or just spending time in spaces or at events with ourselves or families. Please come up and say hi anytime. For a selection of last semester's activities, click here, and check Today @ Brown regularly for other opportunities. 

13. What is the policy for making someone go to a hospital for being dangerous to themselves?
Laws in Rhode Island and our professional ethics determine our practices with these things. Many students that visit CAPS express current or previous thoughts of suicide. When we hear about this, we work with the student to maintain or increase their safety by developing ways to recognize when they may be in danger and determine steps they can take to feel better. If a student is not safe to leave a session, meaning that there is a very high likelihood of their attempting suicide in the near future, or when we are not able to develop steps that can to assure safety, the law and our professional ethics requires us to make sure the student is evaluated at a hospital as an effort to save their life. CAPS does not directly/involuntarily admit someone to a hospital, we only have someone transported for an evaluation. Once at the hospital, their staff do the evaluation and make a decision about next steps, which can include leaving with treatment recommendations, or staying for inpatient care. This is usually done with the person recognizing that it is a good thing for them, although occasionally depending on the situation, they have an emergency certification to the hospital that they do not want, where they stay in the hospital's care. Hospital stays and being discharged are entirely the responsibility of the hospital staff. CAPS is involved in after care planning, but not in their decision making. Additionally, when situations arise when CAPS is not open, DPS and EMS manage the situations and may take a different approach since they are different types of professionals. Please refer to their offices for more information. 

14. What is the policy for making someone receive treatment for mania or psychosis?
Laws in Rhode Island determine our work in these situations. In almost all situations like this, the key factor is dangerousness to self and others. People have a right to refuse treatment for all of these conditions, unless there is a very high likelihood that they will severely harm themselves or someone else. In those situations, the previous question on this page would apply. 

15. I have been reading about other schools forcing students onto a leave after talking with someone at their counseling center. What happens at Brown?
Usually these situations are referred to as "involuntary medical leaves" and are times when a university makes a decision that the health and safety of a student is so jeopardized by their being at the university, that they should take a leave to be in a safer environment. At Brown, no recommendations for involuntary medical leaves originate at CAPS. Our purpose for being at the university is to provide treatment for students. Additionally, our confidentiality means that other university staff will not know about your contact with our office unless it is absolutely necessary to manage a mental health emergency you may be experiencing. Common partners in those situations are Brown EMS, Health Serivces, and local hospitals, who also operate under the same confidentiality laws. 

16. I was in the hospital for mental health concers and a hospital staff member said that I cannot be released without CAPS authorizing it, is this true?
There are a couple discharge staff members at a hospital in Providence that continue to perpetuate this, but it is completely false. CAPS has no role in the hospital determining when you are ready to leave. We have met with hospital supervisors several times to get this to stop and we still hear these things occasionally. If this has happened to you and you would like us to know, please contact us at [email protected] and we will follow up with you to hear more.  

17. I want to give you information about a student. Can you keep my call private from them?
A lot of people see CAPS as a resource for helping students and as a place to share information about them. Whereas we always welcome conversation and can offer consultation to help you refer the student to us, just sharing information can be tricky. We will accept information, but often will not take any action on it unless it is a potential emergency. In those cases will we call the Department of Public Safety to find the student and take them to a hospital for an assessment. Otherwise if you are just looking to consult on how to help someone, or look at options for support at the university, we can usually help without getting into much specific detail. However, if you are just wanting to share something with us that is not an emergency just so we are aware, before doing that we strongly suggest you a) tell the student you want to call and what you want to share, and b) ask their permission. We do not assure privacy of your information from the student, and depending on the level of significance of the information, we make a note in the student's chart that is their legal right to see if requested, and will also often share details about information that came to us about them. 

18. I referred a student to CAPS who told me about scheduling problems. What should I do?
The things we hear most in this area is that a student says it will take multiple weeks to get in for an appointment. We usually suggest first letting the student know that there are appointments available to be scheduled for the same day, every day we are open, and to call first thing in the morning the next day. You could also call from your own office or phone with the student to see what the next available appointment is. In some rare instances, a student's schedule is very limited, and that makes options for scheduling more challenging.  In those cases, we do everything we can to help them get in as soon as possible. However, sometimes the student may say this because they genuinely aren't interested in meeting with us and don't know another way to communicate that safely. 

19. I want to schedule an appointment for a student. Can I do that?
Students need to schedule their own appoitments at CAPS. Occasionally we can hold a specific time for the student and wait for them to confirm with us. If they are near you and you want to assist, you can call from your phone and after we pick up, you can hand it to them or put them on speak phone to schedule it. We make exceptions here for hospital staff that are planning after care for a student.

20. I want CAPS to reach out to a student who I think needs your help. Can you do that?
CAPS does not do cold calls to students. However, there are some legitimate situations where reaching out for help from CAPS is stigmatized or culturally impossible. In those cases, we ask you to get the student's permission for us to send an email invitation to them, which will also reference you. We also send an email inviting students to meet with us that we know have been to a hospital for psychological concerns unless they already have ongoing care with us or in the community. In cases where you believe a student may be having a mental health emergency, you should call the Department of Public Safety at 401-863-4111 and have them do a welfare check. You can also request someone check on a student in a non-urgent situation through Student Support Services at 401-863-3145.   

21. Does CAPS provide competency evaluations for athletes, TAs, or other student activities?
We are occasionally asked to do an evaluation for someone being "mentally fit" to play a sport, teach a class, or do another type of activity. CAPS does not provide competency evaluations for any of these things. We also regularly say that it is not advisable to restrict students from activities because of a mental health condition or symptoms, especially if that condition is not directly and objectively impacting their performance in that activity to a level that would warrant any other student without a mental health condition from being refused participation. 

22. Will CAPS complete an evaluation for a study abroad program?
There are some study abroad programs that are not administered by Brown that require a mental health "clearance" or evaluation to ensure participation. In almost all cases we are unable to complete this documentation. If you have had significant and recent contact with our office and need this form completed, please email us at 
[email protected] to see what we can do to help. If you have not had significant and recent contact with our office, you can also email us to see what other options there may be for getting the form completed.

23. Will CAPS provide documentation for SAS/SEAS?
CAPS can provide documentation that notes the presence of a disability, often for the purpose of accommodations at SEAS. For students that have been working with one of our clinicians for a period of time, are not improving, and the level of severity of the symptoms is at the level of a disability, the clinician can complete paperwork for SEAS. CAPS does not make declarations about the specific accommodations needed (SEAS does that). If you are looking for academic accommodations due to a mental health condition but do not want to do treatment, we can also help in some unique cases (like if you've had formal accomodations in the past). If you are in this situation, contact us and ask for a Disability Evaluation Request Form. Someone on our staff will read the completed form promptly and let you know if it is a situation we provide and evaluation for. 

24. I have a complaint or suggestion for CAPS, who should I contact?
We always want to hear about ideas and suggestions for our office, and try many of them (which you can see in our Labs page). Even this FAQ was a student idea. We always want to hear when we didn't get it right. In all of these cases, write to us at [email protected], and someone, usually our Director, will be in touch soon.