Counseling Services FAQs

Who can use Counseling Services?

Currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive services. While spouses of students are not eligible for services at the Center, referrals to other agencies and private therapists are available by calling Counseling Services and asking for assistance with a community referral.

Why do students come to Counseling Services?

Each year between 17-21% percent of all Caltech students come to Counseling Services for help. The reasons they seek help vary, but students do come for help with the day to day issues they (and people in general) face like stress, procrastination, cultural adjustment and relationships. Additionally, some students come for help with concerns that involve depression, eating disorders, substance use/misuse, and anxiety among other reasons.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to students for services provided by the Center or for office visits with our consulting psychiatrist, when the referral is made by a Counseling Services provider

How long can I be seen at Counseling Services?

While we don't have a specific session limit, we generally offer goal-oriented, brief therapy services. This means that we work with students to identify needs, set manageable goals, and track progress, as well as connect students with appropriate campus-based and community resources. If a student wants or needs longer-term therapy, has concerns that require multiple sessions per week, or are in need of a higher level of care, Counseling Services staff works with students to find a referral in the community to ensure that treatment needs are met.

If I'm referred off campus, can I still see the psychiatrist at the Counseling Center?

If a student is referred off-campus for longer-term treatment or specialized care, Counseling Services staff will work to connect the student with a psychiatrist in the community for ongoing medication management. Students with UHC insurance can continue to see our consulting psychiatrist in her private practice, conveniently located about a mile from campus. For students without UHC insurance, Counseling Services staff will help coordinate a transfer of care to a psychiatrist in the community.

What about confidentiality?

Probably the most important thing that students expect of Counseling Services, in addition to being treated with respect and concern, is that what they say will be held in confidence. We know that confidentiality is an essential part of what helps counseling work and so we strongly protect students' confidentiality. The Consent for Counseling Services and Privacy Practices forms that students sign before an intake appointment outlines our responsibility to students' confidentiality.

When should I think about talking to a therapist?

Approximately 17-21% of the Caltech student body uses Counseling Services each year. Students seek help for a variety of reasons including: stress, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, substance use or abuse, loneliness, grief, and academic stress, among others. We encourage any student considering treatment or consultation at Counseling Services to come for an initial appointment so we can help identify the resources that will be most helpful. Sometimes this is individual brief therapy, a group or workshop, or getting connected with the Deans' office or other support services on campus.

What if I'm concerned about a friend?

We encourage people to call and ask for our advice whenever they are concerned about another person and are unsure of to how to help. We can provide coaching, offer alternative resources and also help identify more urgent situations, such as when a student is considering suicide, that require immediate help.

How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

We are committed to ensuring that students are seen as quickly as possible. Initial appointments are generally scheduled within 1-3 days from the time of the initial request. Students who are experiencing a crisis or whose concerns cannot wait until the next available appointment should let the front desk staff know that they have an urgent concern and will be accommodated for a same-day appointment.

What can I expect if I contact Counseling Services?

When you call or visit Counseling Services you'll be greeted by our friendly front office staff. You'll be asked to confirm your status as an enrolled Caltech student.

If you are experiencing a crisis or feel the need to be seen on an urgent (same-day) basis, please inform the receptionist immediately.

Non-crisis initial appointments will be scheduled within 1-3 days with a clinician who has availability that matches yours. Our goal is to see each student seeking services promptly - this allows Counseling Services staff to make an initial assessment of your needs and make recommendations for appropriate services and resources.

You will be asked to come in 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time so you can complete paperwork, which includes a consent form, privacy practices, and information that will help us address your concerns most effectively. Arriving early for your appointment will allow the initial appointment to start on time and will provide you with ample time for discussing concerns with your provider.

Your initial appointment will last 25-30 minutes. This visit is focused on identifying the primary reason you are seeking counseling services, and assess for any safety concerns or risk factors. The clinician will also ask you a series of questions that will help inform next steps. You will have the opportunity to talk about any immediate issues that could benefit from problem-solving and strategies to manage distress. At the conclusion of your initial visit, you may be referred to one of our groups or workshops, scheduled for an intake appointment, or referred to the consulting psychiatrist, a community provider, or other resource that will be helpful to you.