This process, called referring out, exists because resources at CAPS are limited, even though more and more students are seeking help. Students who are referred out are usually dealing with issues that cannot be treated with short-term therapy — a semester or less.
Dr. Allen O’Barr, the director of CAPS, said he wishes his office could do more.
“Every therapist who works here would love to do long-term therapy,” O’Barr said. “We go to school for that, so we want to do that, but our first objective that we can’t let go is seeing people as they walk in, to make sure that they’re not having to wait weeks for an appointment.”
Until 2008, CAPS offered full sessions for students’ first appointments. Walk-in hours replaced this practice because O’Barr said people were waiting several weeks for an appointment, which CAPS administrators didn’t feel was immediate enough to meet student needs.
Students can walk into CAPS during specified hours Monday through Friday and be seen without an appointment for triage. Some students walk out of this appointment with only a paper list of off-campus providers and no follow-up.
O’Barr said he understands the process can be frustrating for students who are turned away.
“They get up so much courage to come here, and then they say, ‘You’re referring me out. Are you kidding me?’”
O’Barr said a lot of frustration comes from a misunderstanding of what CAPS does.