What to Expect When You First Contact CAPS
Coming to counseling is a very courageous step. It can be hard talking to someone you don't know about personal concerns. Students commonly ask what will happen their first time at CAPS, and knowing this information can help people feel more comfortable.
At initial contact:
- You will speak individually with a counselor to discuss your concerns.
- They will ask you a variety of questions to better understand your concerns and who you are.
- The counselor will provide you with their recommendation for best course of action/next steps.
1. To connect with CAPS, call (973) 761-9500 or come to Mooney Hall, Rm. 27 (2nd Floor). Tell the front desk receptionist you are interested in making an initial appointment. *If you are experiencing a mental health emergency/are in crisis, or if you are wanting to consult with a counselor about concerns about yourself or others, please let the front desk know this.* The receptionist will ask for your name, student ID number, email, phone number, and address. Please have your schedule ready, as this will help expedite scheduling. You do not need to provide any personal mental health information to make an appointment.
2. The morning of your first appointment, you will receive a link to fill out paperwork that asks important questions to help us get to know you and your concerns. This typically takes students 20-30 minutes, so please plan for this so that you can complete it prior to the start of your appointment.
3. A counselor will come to the waiting area, introduce themselves, and then you will go together to their office to talk in private. If you are meeting via telehealth, the counselor will send you a link to join a HIPAA-compliant virtual office. The first time you meet with a counselor it will typically be for about 50 min-hour.
4. During the first meeting/assessment, the counselor will ask you about aspects of your life relevant to mental health, including (but not limited to):
- What is concerning you most right now
- Your history, if applicable, of mental health counseling, any medications you are taking, and any medical/physical concerns
- They will ask if you are having suicidal thoughts or if this is ever something you have thought about
- They will want to know more about you, your family, where you grew up, what school is like for you, your friends, support system, etc.
This is also an opportunity for you to share what you feel you want/need from counseling. This is a mutual process, and it is important that each student is comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable talking about the above, please tell your counselor. The counselor does not intend for you to feel uncomfortable, and wants to understand enough about you to be able to determine how we might best meet your needs.
5. Please note that the initial assessment is not therapy/counseling. It is an assessment of what you need at this time, followed by the counselor’s recommendations for next steps, which may or may not include individual therapy. The counselor will discuss these recommendations for what they feel would be most helpful for your current concerns. This may include self-help exercises, workshops, group counseling, individual therapy, or a referral to a community provider. The first CAPS counselor you meet with may or may not be the counselor you will meet with regularly--it will depend on your concerns, our recommendations, and scheduling flexibility.
6. You may or may not feel better when you leave the appointment. True counseling and healing is a process, and it often means engaging with difficult emotions and experiences. However, hopefully, you will feel proud to have taken the first step!