CAPS Frequently Asked Questions


1. How can counseling help me?

The purpose of counseling is to enhance students’ psychological wellness, help students achieve their personal goals promote student success, and increase graduation rates. Students may seek counseling for a wide range of concerns including relationships, stress, difficulty adjusting, identity development, academic challenges, depression, anxiety, and other concerns.

2. What types of counseling services are offered at CAPS?

CAPS provides brief and confidential personal counseling. Services offered include individual, couples (both must be students), group counseling, limited psychological assessment and testing for learning disabilities, crisis intervention, consultation, and case management (referrals to on and off campus resources). Individual sessions are limited (one to six sessions) and typically last 45 minutes.

3. What are the limitations of services offered at CAPS?

CAPS provides counseling for student concerns that can be addressed within a brief therapy model. Students needing more comprehensive services that require longer term counseling or specialized treatment will be assessed and provided with community referrals. In these situations, the primary goal is to transition the student to the appropriate level of care.

Student concerns that may require a higher level of care beyond what CAPS can provide include, but are not limited to:

  • Repeated psychiatric hospitalizations and chronic thoughts of suicide and self-injury
  • Risk of harm to others
  • Severe eating disorders
  • Alcohol and substance dependence needing detoxification and ongoing treatment
  • A manifestation of psychotic symptoms (current symptoms such as hearing or seeing things that others do not hear or see, feelings of paranoia, lack of need to sleep for the last several days and having plenty of energy, or having major difficulty functioning) with or without medication treatment
  • Comprehensive psychological assessment testing for ADD/ADHD or other similar concerns.
  • Frequent need for crisis services, or need to be seen multiple times a week.
  • Seeking evaluation and assessment:
      - To obtain a letter for an emotional support animal
      - To obtain diagnoses and accommodations documentation for the Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC)
      - For court mandated and legal reasons
      - For employment related concerns (e.g. fit for duty)

4. Am I eligible for counseling services?

CAPS provides brief personal counseling to SF State matriculated and enrolled students. CAPS services are covered by the student health fee. CAPS does not provide counseling services to College of Extended Learning students (CEL), except CEL International Graduate students. Limited counseling services are also available to American Language Institute (ALI) students.

5. Can I be seen Immediately?

CAPS strives to provide students with the earliest available appointment within one to two weeks. During the heaviest utilization periods, toward the second half of each semester, wait times may be longer. In cases where a student may be experiencing a crisis, a student may be seen by a counselor for a same day assessment.

The SAFE Place provides daily crisis/walk in appointments for sexual assault, intimate partner violence, dating or domestic violence, sexual harassment, and/or stalking. Students may inform the front desk if they wish to see the advocate for The SAFE Place.

6. What is Let’s Talk in University Housing?

Let’s Talk, a CAPS program located in University Housing, is a brief consultation with a counselor that is available to all student residents within University Housing at SF State. It is a place where you can talk about concerns and receive suggestions, resources, or be in the presence of someone who listens well and can offer support. It is informal, confidential, free, and no appointment is necessary. No topic is off limits whether it is stress, sadness, relationship problems or academic pressures.

For more information on the locations and hours, please visit Residential Life Counseling.

7. How do I make an appointment?

Individual Sessions: Students can schedule a first-time intake appointment during regular business hours by coming into the CAPS office and appointment will be given after filling out the CAPS registration form. CAPS is open Monday through Thursday 8:00am to 6:45pm and Friday 8:00am to 4:45pm during the academic year. Summer hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:45pm. Follow up appointments may be scheduled by phone or in person.

Group Sessions: Students can sign up in person for group sessions or workshops by filling out and completing the CAPS registration forms. Students will be called the day before the first group session as a reminder that they signed up for the group. Several skills-based and discussion groups (Self Care on the Spot, Anxiety Management and Dream Resource Center Group) only require signing up. Alcohol and Other Drugs Psychoeductional Groups are currently only offered  to students referred by Residential Life, Office of Student Conduct and Athletics.  Support groups (Understanding Self and Others, Trauma Recovery Group, The Happiness Project, and My Self-Empowerment) require a CAPS intake appointment.

8. What happens if I don’t show up for an appointment?

Once you and a Counselor have decided on a course of treatment, consistent attendance is highly encouraged. Since the demand for services is high, we ask that you only schedule appointments that you are confident you will keep. If you are unable to keep an appointment, please call CAPS at least 24 hours in advance, so that we may make the time slot available to another student seeking service. Please assist us in achieving maximum utilization for this important university resource. Missing two sessions without giving 24hours notice may be grounds for termination. You may be required to consult by phone with your therapist about treatment progress before another appointment is scheduled.

** If you do not provide at least 24 hours notice when you are unable to attend a scheduled therapy session, a $20 NO SHOW / LATE CANCEL fee will automatically be charged to your student account. Voicemail cancellations are acceptable if we are unable to answer your call.

9. Are counseling services confidential?

Your relationship with CAPS is confidential except: 1) when you give written permission to release information, 2) in certain life or death emergencies, 3) if your Counselor believes that you intend to harm yourself or others, 4) If child abuse/neglect or dependent adult abuse/neglect is suspected, your Counselor is legally and ethically bound to report; 5) If you are gravely disabled and need hospitalization; 6) by Court Order. In some cases, CAPS, The Peggy H. Smith Counseling Clinic, and Student Health Services (SHS) may share your private healthcare information for the purposes of coordinating your care.

In the event that you encounter your Counselor outside the CAPS office (e.g. at a campus program, walking across campus, etc.,) your Counselor may not greet or acknowledge you unless you first greet them. This procedure is followed to preserve your confidentiality. 

10. Can I contact CAPS Counselors by e-mail or through social media?

CAPS does not communicate through e-mail/text or social media because it is not a confidential form of communication and may compromise your privacy. In limited circumstances, we may communicate through e-mail with your written permission.