FAQs


How many students at Swarthmore use counseling services?

Counseling and Psychological Services is highly utilized by the Swarthmore student body.  During the 2016–17 school year:

  • A total of 476 students were seen for counseling, representing 30 percent of the average enrollment for this school year
  • 5,766 individual therapy sessions were scheduled, 4,552 completed (79 percent completion rate)
  • An additional 546 psychiatric consultation appointments were scheduled for 110 students
  • 237 students (50 percent) were first-time users of CAPS

The modal number of sessions per student was 1 (101 students came for one visit).

The median number was 6 sessions; 50 percent of students completed 6 or fewer sessions.

The average number of sessions per student was 9.

Are counseling services confidential?

In accordance with legal and ethical standards for psychologists and social workers, all counseling sessions with students over 18 years of age are confidential. Counselors cannot disclose whether a student is in counseling or make any disclosures about their counseling without the student’s written consent.

In certain instances, with the student’s permission, it may be clinically appropriate for a counselor to speak to a student’s former or future provider(s), a staff member, or another person specified by the student regarding treatment. In these instances, students can sign a Release of Information, which can be obtained from the CAPS office.

State and federal law states that there are four exceptions to this general rule:

  1. You may request (by means of a signed release) that your counselor reveal information to other individuals or agencies of your choice. 
  2. In instances where there is imminent danger of serious harm to yourself or others.
  3. In cases involving physical and/or sexual abuse of children or endangered adults.
  4. Where otherwise requested by subpoena or mandated by court order or state/federal law.

Are counselors mandated reporters under Title IX?

No, CAPS counselors are not mandated reporters, and the material discussed in counseling is kept confidential with exceptions as explained above. 

Should I seek professional counseling?

Swarthmore students seek counseling for a wide variety of emotional health concerns, from transition and relationship concerns to concerns about depression, anxiety/stress, and eating and body image, to name only a few. We encourage students to seek counseling when emotional health concerns are negatively impacting their academics, personal relationships, physical health and safety, or any other aspects of their day-to-day lives. If you believe counseling could be helpful to you in any way, we encourage you to connect with our office. Know that if you decide to seek counseling, you are not alone. More than 45 percent of Swarthmore students seek individual counseling through our office over their four years on campus.

What do counseling and psychiatry appointments cost?

There is no charge for currently enrolled Swarthmore students.

Can I receive ongoing counseling from Counseling and Psychological Services when I am studying abroad or at home over winter or summer breaks?

We do not provide distance counseling for students who are studying abroad or who are away from campus during extended breaks. There are a number of ethical, legal, and clinical reasons for this, including our strong belief that a student is best served through in-person meetings with a professional counselor. While we are not able to provide ongoing distance counseling, our office is available for consultation around how to proceed with addressing your concerns, including help with identifying off-campus providers. With your permission, we can also communicate with your off-campus provider to facilitate your transfer of care. For students studying abroad, or thinking about studying abroad, visit the Swarthmore Off-Campus Study webpage for additional information about mental health support abroad.

How often may I be seen?

Swarthmore counseling does not have explicit session limits. The amount of time a student may attend counseling is determined by the student in cooperation with their counselor. Together they assess the amount of treatment the student might need based on the situation. One student may feel that their issue is resolved in a single meeting; another might wish to continue counseling for a longer period of time.

What should I expect in my first appointment? And in subsequent appointments?

In your first CAPS appointment, you will sit down with your counselor to discuss your concerns as well as any other information that will help your counselor better understand you and your situation. You and your counselor will then work together to identify whether and how to move forward. This will take approximately 45–50 minutes.

Sometimes a concern can be resolved in one meeting; other times more appointments can be helpful. Ongoing counseling appointments are typically scheduled weekly, or every other week, and include you working together with your counselor to address what brought you in, and/or other concerns that may surface along the way. We do not adhere to session limits but do emphasize the student’s agency in tandem with their counselor in deciding when their work is done.

How long do I have to wait to see a therapist?

We are generally able to schedule students (70 percent) on a day and time of their choice within a week, however there are times in the semester when there is a large influx of students and the wait may be longer. CAPS tracks all scheduling requests, but feel free to contact us about your scheduling.

CAPS has a walk-in policy for urgent needs, and you can come to our office and request a same-day appointment if you feel unable to wait. In addition, you can call our On Call services at any time and immediately speak to a counselor.

You can decrease your waiting time by offering more times in which to schedule an appointment. Narrow windows are much harder to fill. You can support the availability of CAPS resources for one another by being diligent in canceling (by phone or email) scheduled appointments that you cannot keep, ideally in advance. This enables us to use that time for another student.

Can I see a therapist who shares my identity?

If you would like to meet with a specific type of counselor, please let us know. We will do all we can to match you with the type of counselor you request. However, we cannot meet every need, and if this is the case, we can help you locate resources off campus.

What if I don’t like my therapist?

Psychotherapy is very much based on the relationship the client has with their therapist. If you do not feel comfortable with your therapist, we ask you to consider discussing your feelings with your counselor to see if a solution can be found. However, the center will make every effort to switch you to another counselor if you feel unable to remedy the situation.