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Short-Term Therapy

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


Whatever you’re going through, we are here to help. 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.

  • We provide 50-minute therapy sessions on a regular basis, as clinically appropriate. 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, 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.). 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 with 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 intake therapy session. 

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. You can call CAPS 24/7 to speak with a patient navigator for referral support.

Your Intake Appointment 

The first session of short-term therapy is a 50-minute intake appointment. 30 minutes before this session, you will be asked to complete some required paperwork, which includes a clinical questionnaire and a symptom assessment called the CCAPS. All the necessary forms can be found and completed via the Cowell Health Portal. After the therapist has reviewed the completed paperwork, the session will begin. The therapist will work with you to explore your concerns, your current life circumstances, your history, and work with you to develop goals for therapy. This plan may involve additional therapy appointments at CAPS or referral to additional on-campus or community resources.

Planning Next Steps 

After your intake session, you and your CAPS therapist will continue to meet as needed to provide you with support and collaboratively plan on how to achieve your goals. CAPS therapy sessions are typically scheduled every 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or 4 weeks depending on clinical need and availability. There are no limits on the number of therapy sessions you can have, 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 connect you 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