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FAQs


How many students at Swarthmore use counseling services?

Counseling and Psychological Services is highly utilized by the Swarthmore student body.  Approximately 40% of students at Swarthmore used counseling in the 2018-2019 academic year.

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 39 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 do I get psychological medication?

CAPS requires that you first be in individual psychotherapy. If you want to explore or request medication please discuss this with your therapist.  If you are already receiving medication from an off-campus provider it is your responsibility to manage your medication needs through that provider.  Note that we do not schedule new psychiatry appointments close to the end of each semester.  If you have any questions, speak to your therapist or our case manager, Dana Marcus dmarcus1@swarthmore.edu.

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.

Why consider group therapy?

Group therapy at CAPS is open to any student who wants to explore issues that can interfere with connecting and relating to others. Groups provide a therapist-facilitated, confidential space for students to talk, explore, and share their experiences of themselves in relationship to others. Groups begin a few weeks into each semester and last approximately 10 - 11 weeks. If you would like more information about groups, please contact dshaffer1@swarthmore.edu.

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.

Are CAPS therapists trauma informed?

All therapists at CAPS have received specialized clinical training in trauma informed care and in handling experiences that arise from trauma. 

What if I have to cancel my appointment?

CAPS is a community resource and there is a high demand for sessions. It is important to give us 24 hour notice when you cannot attend a session so another student may use that time.  You can cancel by emailing Terry McGrath at tmcgrat1@swarthmore.edu.

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. We also have scheduled Crisis Walk In hours twice every day.  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 therapist, please let us know. We will do all we can to match you with the type of therapist 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?

From time to time, you may not feel comfortable with your therapist. Please try to speak directly to your therapist or reach out to our case manager, Dana Marcus at dmarcus1@swarthmore.edu. The center will make every effort to switch you to another counselor if you feel unable to remedy the situation.