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Short-Term Therapy

Even if you've never been to a counseling session before, we'll help you feel comfortable and achieve your goals. Come as you are—you are welcome here.


Whatever you’re going through, we are here to help. If you have never been in therapy, you may not know what to expect. You may feel nervous and even find it difficult to walk through our doors. Most students, however, are surprised at how “normal” the counseling experience feels when they are working with a therapist. We encourage you to allow us to become a part of your support system by utilizing our services.

  • At CAPS, we provide 50-minute therapy sessions on a regular basis as clinically appropriate, to provide support and help you work toward your goals. There are no fees or session limits, but the services are designed to be short-term.
  • We provide both individual therapy and couples short-term therapy. To be eligible for couples therapy, only one partner needs to be enrolled at SCU.

Getting Started 

If you are interested in therapy, the first step is to sign up for a phone consultation by calling the Cowell Center at (408) 554-4501 during business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Please note, most CAPS appointments cannot be scheduled online. During your 15- to 30-minute Phone Consultation, a CAPS therapist will listen to what you need and review appropriate resources and options with you, which may include participating in a group or workshop, meeting with a CAPS therapist for short-term therapy, connecting with a community provider for specialized or weekly support, or consulting with a psychiatric provider.

If it is determined that short-term therapy at CAPS is a good fit, then your phone consultation therapist will help match you with an available therapist at CAPS. Your new therapist will contact you within one week to schedule an initial therapy session, called an intake. 

If therapy at CAPS isn’t the right fit for you, or if you are looking for longer term therapy, you can meet with a Cowell Center case manager for support connecting with off-campus providers, including non-CAPS therapists. Alternatively, you can call CAPS 24/7 to speak with a patient navigator for referral support. Both are good options.

Your Intake Appointment 

The first session of short-term therapy at CAPS is a 50-minute intake appointment. Thirty minutes before this session, you will complete two questionnaires (a clinical questionnaire and the CCAPS assessment) via the Cowell Health Portal to help us better understand your background and reasons for seeking support. You and your therapist will then talk about your concerns and collaboratively plan how to best address them. This plan may involve additional therapy appointments at CAPS or referral to additional on-campus or community resources. 

Planning Next Steps 

You and your CAPS therapist will continue to meet as needed to provide you with support and help you work toward your goals. Therapy sessions at CAPS are typically every 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or 4 weeks. There are no limits on the number of therapy sessions at CAPS, but services are designed to be short-term. You and your therapist will check in regularly about your progress and next steps. If you end up wanting longer-term therapy, we can help you connect with other resources.

What Short-Term Therapy Can Help With

CAPS uses a short-term model of therapy for individuals and couples in order to use our resources most effectively and help as many students as possible. Even a brief time in therapy can help with issues such as: 

  • Personal: Stress and anxiety, mild depression, anger, loneliness, guilt, self-esteem, grief, and loss
  • Relationship: Romantic relationship difficulties, sexual concerns, roommate conflicts, difficulties with coworkers or classmates, concerns with family or friends
  • Developmental: Identity development, adjustment to college, life transitions, cultural concerns
  • Academic: Performance anxiety, stress, perfectionism, underachievement, motivation, concerns about future school and work
  • Other: Spiritual concerns, eating/body image concerns, healthy lifestyle choices, minor alcohol, and drug use concerns, sexual assault, discrimination, and oppression
When Short-Term Therapy Is Not Recommended

CAPS services aren’t always the best fit. If you need a particular type of treatment not offered at CAPS, or if you prefer weekly or ongoing therapy appointments, a Cowell Center case manager for a CAPS 24/7 patient navigator can provide you with referral support. 

There are many concerns that are best served outside of CAPS, such as:

  • Evidence or risk of significant deterioration in mental or emotional functioning, requiring more intensive treatment
  • Psychotic symptoms without a willingness to remain on medication for stabilization
  • Inability or unwillingness to provide the necessary information to thoroughly assess symptoms
  • Other issues requiring specialized services not available through CAPS, such as:
    • Significant substance use concerns, including substance dependence 
    • Long-term or severe suicidal intent that cannot be appropriately addressed with brief therapy
    • Long-term and severe self-injurious behaviors that cannot be appropriately addressed with brief therapy
    • Long-term or severe eating disorder with no period of remission, continual refusal of treatment, or posing as a medical danger
    • Formal psychological evaluation or testing
    • Court-mandated assessment or treatment
    • Noncompliance with treatment recommendations