Our Treatment Approach

Our Treatment Approach

CAPS takes a goal-focused and collaborative approach to counseling and mental health treatment. Essentially, we help students improve their lives by focusing on the change each individual person wants to make, and we then use our expertise to help them achieve it. We strive to provide immediate, meaningful care focused on what your needs are right from the very first session, and we have a range of follow up options available for you to choose based on your unique situation. 

Your first visit will be a 25-minute session that can often be scheduled as quickly as the same day you call. During that appointment, your clinician will focus on learning about your goals for treatment and meeting your immediate needs, and will then make a recommendation about next steps (another session at CAPS, following up as-needed for the next one, helping you connect with specialists in Providence or other offices on campus, etc). 

Clients tell us that they usually need between just one session and up to a few months of sessions to reach their goals, and they usually come in every other week during that time. We have found that clients that are able to dedicate more time and energy to counseling outside of the sessions usually have quicker and better results.

Scope of Practice

We are mindful of the types of things we are equipped to help with in our center, which is referred to as our “scope of practice.” Generally, CAPS offers individual counseling for students: 

  • When our goal-focused counseling approach is likely to be or has shown to be effective,
  • When the student is freely choosing to access treatment,
  • To treat low-moderate severity of depression, anxiety, stress, suicidal thoughts, relationship and social concerns, non-suicidal self-injury, eating concerns, identity development, experiences of discrimination, substance use issues, sexual assault and trauma, and a wide range of others.

Connecting to Off Campus Care

Although we assist the majority of students that look to us for treatment, there are some limitations in what we can provide (things that are outside of our scope of practice). This is when we help connect students to other sources of care, often by helping you identify providers that you would be interested in seeing, and offering assistance in how to make those connections. In general, student concerns are outside of our scope of practice when: 

  • Our goal-focused counseling approach is likely to be, or has shown to be inadequate, ineffective, or harmful,
  • The student can be helped more by another office, service, or specialist on or off campus. 
  • The student's counseling needs are best met by therapists that offer exploratory, or supportive care, often "long-term" 
  • The student needs higher levels of care (partial program, inpatient treatment, etc), more frequent counseling, or specialized care that CAPS does not provide, 
    • Some examples of situations like this include chronic or serious eating disorders, and severe mood and anxiety disorders that are likely to require weekly therapy for a year or more.

We also help connect students to other resources when rare situations arise such as when there are frequent no-shows or scheduling challenges, when students are already in the care of another clinician, when the student has been mandated to treatment or coreced by someone to see a clinician, when the safety of the CAPS staff is in question or there has been interpersonal violence against a staff member, when a student is misusing medication prescribed by CAPS, or when there is potential litigation against CAPS or the university (these become ethical conflicts of interest).

    Financial Concerns

    If there are concerns related to being able to afford community care, we can help you connect to university resources that may be able to help cover the cost of treatment. The Assistant Dean for Financial Advising is our primary source to contact.

    Urgent Care & Crisis Stabilization

    All students enrolled at Brown are eligible for urgent care and crisis stabilization services. In situations where you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or someone else, or when there is a situation you are experiencing that needs immediate care, please use one of these urgent care options


    Confidentiality basically means a very high level of privacy. CAPS is one of the few offices at the university that are a confidential resource. Your privacy and our records are protected by state and federal laws, as well as our providers’ licensing rules and professional ethics, all of which hold very strict standards on maintaining confidentiality.

    Our records are separate from other university records, and if you are over the age of 18, your contact with our office is not disclosed to anyone without your written permission except in specific situations dictated by law. The most common is when there is an urgent need to help connect you emergency care providers (like a hospital), which we see as an important step in saving your life. There are other less common instances that are detailed in our confidentiality form that you will read before your first visit. Your counselor can also answer any questions you have about confidentiality even before you discuss anything else.