The Daily Northwestern

Counseling and Psychological Services to end 12-session limit

Shane McKeon, Campus Editor

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Beginning next Fall Quarter, Counseling and Psychological Services will no longer base its treatment on a 12-session limit.

In an interview with The Daily, Dean of Students Todd Adams said a student’s number of sessions won’t factor in to the care they receive.

“There is no longer a limit,” he told The Daily. “It’ll be more based on what’s needed.”

CAPS will focus more on “personalized care” plans for individual students, according to an email from Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs. Plans could employ one-on-one counseling, group therapy, connection to other on-campus programs or referral to providers outside CAPS. Adams said the individualized approach was already in place, but this shift will make that focus “more overt.”

The shift comes after years of students pushing for the change, and Adams said that effort played a role in the new plan.

“Student voice was paramount in this decision,” he told The Daily. “Given where we are, and what students have been saying, we wanted to remove any barriers to students getting care.”

SESP senior Chris Harlow sat on the committee that recommended the change. He said students were hesitant to use a session because of the limit, as it made them afraid they would use too many and run out.

Harlow said the committee also found the limit arbitrary. None of the peer institutions they studied had a similar cap, he said, and even though the limit existed for more than 20 years, no University officials knew for sure why it was created.

But Harlow said data provided to the committee showed “the vast majority” of students don’t reach 12 sessions. Students who use CAPS average six sessions, which is consistent with numbers at peer institutions, he said.

And like other universities’ mental health services, Harlow said CAPS provides short-term support, which often helps students deal with more immediate issues, such as academic stress. CAPS will sometimes refer students who need longer-term support to nearby professionals.

“You wouldn’t go to Searle health center for surgery,” he said. “For something that requires more, you’d be referred to an orthopedic surgeon or something else.”

The Daily reported in late January that CAPS was considering such a change.

Email: ShaneM@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Shane_McKeon

 

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