College life offers students tremendous opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. To assist students in taking advantage of these opportunities, the university provides counseling services which enable students to develop effective tools to use in overcoming obstacles to their academic progress, to examine personal and intellectual strengths and weaknesses, and to learn skills which promote personal and intellectual development.
Psychological services are designed to provide:
- Accessible individual counseling and referral services which assist students to function effectively at Mason.
- Group counseling opportunities that enable students to learn more about themselves as individuals interacting with others. Personal development workshops that assist students to learn more about themselves and to develop skills which will enhance their personal and professional success.
- Crisis intervention and emergency services for psychological emergencies. that impact members of the George Mason community.
- Consultation services to university students, faculty and staff to assist members of the community in providing support to each other.
Individual counseling and group counseling allow students to address issues such as educational and academic goals; academic adjustment; family and relationship concerns; traumatic experiences; managing feelings; substance abuse; and sexual identity issues. Services are confidential.
Initial individual consultation appointments can be scheduled by calling 703-993-2380 or stopping by SUB I, Room 3129 during office hours, 8:30am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Same day initial consultations, available on a first-come first-served basis, are made available beginning at 8:30am. Call first thing in the morning to find out the times available to schedule on that day.
Crisis Intervention Assistance is provided to members of the University community who are experiencing crises which affect their ability to function in the community. For consultation or emergency assistance during office hours call 703-993-2380. For assistance during non-office hours, call University Police at 703-993-4357. For life threatening emergencies call 911.
what to expect From Counseling at CAPS
Making an AppointmentStudents may call or come in to CAPS to schedule the initial appointment. We will work with you to schedule an appointment in advance that matches your schedule, or we also have several same-day appointments available that are offered each day (Mon-Fri) starting at 8:30AM on a first-come, first-served basis.
Consultation AppointmentsThe initial appointment is called a “Personal Consultation.” You will be asked to arrive early to provide your consent for services at CAPS, answer demographic questions (e.g., name, address, G#, etc.), and complete a checklist of symptoms or experiences you may be having. Once this is complete you will meet with a clinician. During your consultation session the clinician is likely to ask you to describe what prompted you to come for counseling as well as other questions that may help him or her better understand who you are and how CAPS can best help you.
Once this information is gathered, the clinician will work with you to develop an individualized plan and recommendations to address your presenting concerns, which may include:
- Problem solving around your presenting concern or development of a plan for resolving the conflict. This may only require a single session.
- Referral for group counseling at CAPS.
- Referral for brief and short-term individual counseling with one of the staff clinicians at CAPS. On average students are seen for 4-5 sessions.
- Referral for short-term psychiatric (medication) consultation. Limited psychiatric services are available at CAPS for students also engaging in counseling services at CAPS.
- Referrals to community psychiatric services for longer term or ongoing psychiatry management needs.
- Referral to other campus offices and resources at Mason.
- Referral to other mental health treatment providers in the community when it is likely that your presenting concerns would respond better to an on-going therapy relationship rather than a course of brief/short term therapy.
- Referral to learning services when academic concerns are a focus.
Client Rights and ResponsibilitiesClient Rights
Our overall goal is to make CAPS a place where you feel safe to talk about personal concerns. We follow professional guidelines of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Counseling Association, and the legal statutes established in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Written records of your contact with CAPS are not part of your academic record. In the usual course of events, you have the right to keep your counseling here completely private. This means that, without your written permission, no information about your contact with CAPS is available to anyone outside of CAPS, including university personnel, parents, family members, friends, or outside agencies, however, there are certain exceptions, noted below, with which you should be aware before you enter into a counseling relationship. Please read carefully through these exceptions, and be sure to ask your clinician if you have any questions.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
- If there exists a substantial likelihood that in the near future you may cause serious harm to yourself or others, or that you will suffer serious harm due to a lack of capacity to protect yourself from harm or to provide for your basic human needs, we need to ensure that all concerned parties are safe. In addition, the Code of Virginia may require George Mason to notify your parents in the situation described above if you are a dependent, (Virginia Code 37.2-809 and 23-9.2:3);
- If you report information indicating a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect of a child or incapacitated adult, Virginia law mandates mental health professionals to report this information to Child or Adult Protective Services (Virginia Code 63.2-1509);
- A valid court order or subpoena, issued by a judge, could compel us to disclose relevant information in a legal proceeding or investigation.
- By Virginia code, if the university threat assessment team receives information that results in the team opening an investigation for you, CAPS may be required to provide information in your CAPS record to the team as part of their investigation (Virginia Code 23-9.2:10).
2. Release of Information
You have the right to request that CAPS release information in your record to other parties that you designate. You may do so by signing a release of information authorizing CAPS to share this information with outside sources, and you have a right to discuss specifically what information will be released. You also have the right to rescind this release if you change your mind at a later date. You may do so by documenting in writing to CAPS your desire to withdraw this authorization. If you have worked with or are currently working with other health care providers (e.g., Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Physician, etc.) your CAPS clinician may request that you sign a release of information allowing consultation between CAPS and the outside provider for continuity of care purposes.
3. You have the right to view and discuss the information in your record with your CAPS clinician unless it is specifically noted by your clinician that doing so would be of harm.
4. You have the right to end your counseling at any time.
5. If you have concerns about how your counseling is going or with your assigned clinician, as a first step, we strongly encourage you to discuss these concerns directly with your clinician. CAPS clinicians are open to having these discussions, and often these discussions are powerful growth opportunities. However, if this does not resolve your concern, you have the right to discuss alternative options by contacting the CAPS Executive Director or Coordinator of Clinical Services at (703) 993-2380.
6. You have the right to be informed about the services available to you here, and, unless it is an emergency, to participate in the process of deciding whether or not to utilize these services.
7. You always maintain the right to question the focus of your sessions.
8. You have the right to know the credentials of your clinician.
9. You have the right to ask for a second opinion.10. You have the right to present a complaint, knowing that your care will not be compromised in any way. If you have a problem concerning your care, which you cannot solve with your CAPS clinician, call the CAPS Executive Director or the Coordinator of Clinical Services, at (703) 993-2380.
1. Keep your scheduled appointments and let us know as soon as possible if you cannot attend. If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment, we would like to offer this time to others who may be waiting. Please help us to help others.
2. Be as honest and open as possible with your clinician. This includes both with your exploration of the issues that brought you to CAPS, as well as, with your feedback on how you feel the counseling process is going.
3. Between sessions, think through the concerns you are addressing in counseling.
4. Follow through on treatment recommendations and complete your counseling homework assignments.
5. Attend a termination session at the end of your treatment, rather than electing not to return or not keeping your final appointment. This way you can share and discuss with your clinician what was useful and what could have been improved.
6. If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency…
- Call 911 from any location
If you feel that you might harm yourself or others…
- During normal business hours, you may call the CAPS office at (703) 993-2380 and request emergency assistance.
- After normal business hours, if you live on-campus, you may contact your on-call Housing and Residence Life staff for assistance. Off-campus students may contact the University Police at (703) 993-2810.
- Crisis Link 1-800-273-TALK (8255), www.crisislink.org , Crisis Link is a 24/7/365 free and confidential crisis support hotline that helps bring immediate help, hope, and healing to empower individuals facing serious life challenges, suicidal thoughts, emotional or situational problems.