Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

What is Counseling & Psychological Services all about?

We know life can be stressful. We care about your well-being and are here for your success. Minerva expects students to use the resources offered by CAPS as a part of your Minerva experience, to help you grow through challenges. We encourage you to watch this video to get to know us:

Consistent with the World Health Organization, CAPS approaches mental health not as an absence of mental illness, but as a state of well-being in all areas of life. As such, our focus is on promoting student wellness and supporting students to thrive at Minerva, while setting the foundation for adaptive, healthy, lifelong habits and skills.

Globally, our team is committed to being:

  • Welcoming — we are a warm and non-judgmental space
  • Accessible — we work to lower barriers for students seeking support
  • Growth-oriented — we want to empower students to build skills and resiliency
  • Holistic — we work with you as a whole person, including all aspects of yourself and environment, tailoring support to your needs

Although these values remain the same wherever you encounter CAPS, how they are expressed might be different depending on the cultural context (for example, what being welcoming looks like might be different from San Francisco to Seoul).

CAPS promotes wellness at Minerva in two ways:

  • We equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate changing environmental factors effectively, and provide students with opportunities to practice these skills. Students can learn from CAPS through unique trainings and confidential counseling, or by participating in offerings from other staff, faculty, and students who collaborate with CAPS.
  • We work diligently behind the scenes with other teams at Minerva, often in a consultative capacity, to promote an environment that would be conducive to student wellness. This is evident through Oxygen programming, along with work that is invisible to students, as staff and faculty continuously work together to improve Minerva.

Consider the following resources to learn more about what informs our philosophy:

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model
Introducing a Psychotherapy for the Collective: A Paradigm Shift for College Mental Health, Gary D. Glass
College Counseling Center Outreach—An Organizing Framework, Gary D. Glass

We are proud to be awarded the Campus Prevention Network (CPN) Seal of Prevention, to honour outstanding wellness-related prevention programming at Minerva. See this page to learn more about the criteria for the CPN Seal.

What kind of services does CAPS offer to students?

We offer two broad areas of services directly to students, as illustrated in the diagram below. Details of our services may differ each year to match the divergent needs of students, as students develop and grow more independent in their four years. In general, students can expect our services to be scaffolded in an effort to match students’ growing independence and skill level.

Outreach Services

Programs differ in each city. Be on the lookout for different events, using the Minerva Schools at KGI Google Calendar. In addition to our unique programmings, CAPS also values collaboration and work across teams to enrich and streamline students’ experience, such as through Oxygen programming and programming consultations.

We welcome students to voice their feedback about our offerings, and request/collaborate on wellness-related programming (which may be dependent on practical limitations). We also encourage students to provide feedback by completing the annual Wellness Survey at the end of the academic year.

Clinical Services

Life is complicated, and we offer non-judgmental support, expertise, and guidance. CAPS staff look forward to supporting students, and welcome you to contact us. Counseling is free and confidential to students. CAPS counselors work closely with students to identify goals for counseling, and develop a plan to reach those goals. Each person’s goals are unique, and goals can range from specific (e.g., “I want to better manage my emotions and improve my focus; I want to improve my relationship”), to vague (e.g., “I want to feel good about myself, feel more fulfilled, and confident”). If you are unfamiliar with counseling and feel a bit unsure about it, that’s OK—you can learn more in our FAQ section below.

Counseling FAQ

Where are CAPS staff located?

CAPS is with you at all global locations. Although it isn’t possible to have counselors follow each cohort of students from city-to-city due to legal and licensure requirements that govern counseling in different places, we are committed to establishing a visible presence with students at each rotation. In each Minerva city, you will find counseling & psychological professionals who are local, fluent in both the local language as well as English, and selected to best support students on-the-ground.

Reflecting our scaffolded model of support, we have one full time counselor in San Francisco. All of our counselors outside of San Francisco are part-time, usually by semester. For an introduction to each counselor and how to reach them, please see the CAPS page for each city on the left hand side at the top of this page. These city pages also include information on other location-based resources for mental health.

What is confidentiality?

Your privacy is of utmost importance to us. CAPS staff are unique as one of the only confidential sources at Minerva; any information pertaining to consultation and counseling with us are not shared with anyone else outside of CAPS, unless you provide consent to release your information.

The exceptions to confidentiality, as part of ethical and legal guidelines, include circumstances where individuals’ safety is of concern. These situations include:

  • If there is adequate reason to believe that you are at imminent risk to harm yourself, or if someone else may be harmed
  • If there is adequate reason to believe that a minor, elder, or adult dependent is being abused, neglected, or exploited sexually
  • Very rare legal circumstances that may require release of confidential information

Under these circumstances, reasonable steps will be taken to protect the safety of individuals involved, even if it means breaking your confidentiality. Every effort, however, will still be made to protect your privacy and to inform you of when confidentiality may need to be breached.

What services do you provide for students involved in Title IX? Is it still confidential?

CAPS staff provide a confidential space to discuss Title IX concerns, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimate partner violence. Unlike other Minerva staff and faculty, we are not obligated to disclose what you share; in fact, ethical guidelines prohibit us from doing so. We can provide a safe space for you to explore your options, and support you in whatever you decide to do. CAPS staff can also offer support to reporting and responding parties during the Title IX reporting process.

What can I expect from my first counseling session?

When you reach out the CAPS team in your city, we will schedule a time that works for you to meet, and we’ll send you a copy of our informed consent form (a document that describes in more detail concepts of confidentiality and counseling).

The first meeting is really focused on getting to know you–learning a little bit about the concerns that are bringing you in, your history, and what you hope to get out of therapy. The main task is to build a sense of trust and a connection–you want to feel a sense of safety with the person that you’re sharing with!

Some questions that you might be asked:

  • What’s bringing you into counseling?
  • How are things going in different parts of your life (friends, family, academics, etc)?
  • Have you ever experienced something like your current concern before?
  • What has helped or worked for you in the past?

This is also a time for you to ask questions of your counselor! Some questions might be:

  • What is your approach to counseling?
  • What is your educational or training background?
  • What is your experience working with Minerva students/young adults?
  • How have you worked with other people with my current concern?

Helpful tips

  • Spend some time before your first appointment thinking about what you hope to get out of the process. How do you hope things might look and feel different? (It’s ok if this isn’t concrete, or you’re not sure! You and your counselor can talk about it together)
  • Block out a little time before and after the session–you might want to reflect on what you felt and discussed, and it can be helpful to have some space to transition from talking about things that might be personal and vulnerable to your everyday life.
  • We know that every student is unique, and what works for one person in counseling might be different than what works for another. CAPS counselors aim to meet you where you are, and you can help! Let your counselor know if something feels like it doesn’t sit right, or something feels more or less helpful.

To learn more about counseling, consider these additional resources:

People Talk About Their First Therapy Session
What Minorities Can Expect From A Culturally Competent Therapist
Ways to Make Therapy More Effective
What to Expect From Your First Therapy Appointment

How many students generally visit CAPS in each city?

Historically, around 50% of students in Foundation Year (SF) engage with CAPS services at least once by the end of the academic year. For upper year students, that number is between 30% to 40% of each cohort at the end of each academic year.

How many students visit CAPS regularly? What is the average number of sessions a student has with a CAPS staff?

About 30% of the students who use our services in Foundation Year see us for only 1 time. Overall, the average number of sessions a student attends is between 4-6, with the most common (median) number of sessions being 3. The trend for upper year students shows an average of 3-5 sessions in each city, with the median number of sessions as 2-4.

How many sessions can a student attend with a counselor? Do you ever have to turn students away because of demand?

CAPS does not set a session limit to our services, and we don’t intend to, despite seeing an annual utilization rate that far exceeds the averages for a school of our size. The main factor that determines the number of sessions is typically the student’s presenting concern(s). Counselors collaborate with students to decide on goals, treatment plans, and timeline.

Of course, this also occurs within real life constraints: the nature of the global rotation and related implications (e.g., short-term contract hire for cities outside of San Francisco), for example, limits the treatment time to when students are residing in a city.

We are proud that our efforts to prioritize student access has consistently been a huge strength of CAPS. We have never needed a waitlist, nor have we turned students away because of high demand. We typically offer appointments within 3 (or max, 5) business days, although students may not be able to schedule until later, due to conflicts with their schedules. This is in contrast to national US trends, where many (37%) college counseling centers closest to our size have waitlists ranging from 1 week to more than 35 weeks.

What is it like to transfer counselors? How do CAPS counselors work together?

Counseling & Psychological Services staff communicate with each other across cities so that we can best coordinate care and transfer necessary information. Examples of this include using a confidential electronic healthcare system (EHR) just for CAPS for centralized documentation, having meetings to transfer cases between semesters, doing warm handoffs from city to city, creating new management/reporting lines to better support each city counselor and improve consistency and cross-city communication, etc. You will have ongoing conversations with your counselor when you near the end of treatment about how to approach the transition.

As counselors are people too (surprise!), each counselor brings their unique style, personality, and culture into their approach, and students may learn different skills and lessons from each counselor. As you meet with different counselors, you will have the opportunity to learn what works best for you in counseling, and actively communicate that to shape the dynamic to fit your needs. And, although the counselor you are working with will change, you take your learnings and insights with you to build on every semester.

Does CAPS offer group counseling?

Group sessions may be available depending on student interest. Example topics may include preventing and managing stress, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, social anxiety, cultural adjustments, homesickness, improving sleep, peer support, multicultural competence & cross-cultural dialogues, and many more. Contact wellbeing@minerva.kgi.edu for inquiries/interest.

What is the CAPS policy on providing documentation for Excused Absences and Disability Accommodations?

Counseling & Psychological Services strives to provide a policy for excused absence documentation that is compassionate, aligned with Minerva academic policies, and in adherence with U.S. and International standards for Counseling Services. Based on overwhelming consensus from the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), and guidelines from International Association of Counseling Centers (IACS), Counseling & Psychological Services will ONLY provide “Verification of Visit” documentation, and will ONLY do so if a student has already used (or is at risk of) exceeding their undocumented excusable absence limit or time limit for assignment extensions. Verification of Visit documentation is limited to date(s) and time(s) of appointment(s). No additional information will be provided.

CAPS will provide documentation to verify Major Extenuating Circumstance only if all of the following are true:

  • A student has established an ongoing counseling relationship with Counseling & Psychological Services (typically has seen a counselor for at least three sessions)
  • Counseling & Psychological Services staff have been able to adequately assess the student’s condition.
  • The student agrees to provide permission to release information.

Per Minerva Academic Policy, Academic staff will determine if documentation meets standards for an excused absence, not Counseling & Psychological Services.

If a diagnosable mental health issue is contributing to violations of academic policy, you are strongly encouraged to work with Disability Services to establish formal accommodations. This process is not immediate, may not be retroactive, and must be initiated by the student. Counseling & Psychological Services can provide Verification of Psychological Disability documentation, only if the following are true:

  • A student has established an ongoing counseling relationship with Counseling & Psychological Services and has been seen at least three times.
  • Counseling & Psychological Services staff have been able to adequately assess the student’s condition, and determine that the student has a mental health diagnosis per DSM-5/ICD-10 criteria.
  • The student agrees to provide permission to release information.

My Student Support Program (My SSP)

Minerva is partnering with Morneau Sheppell to provide additional mental health support to students who are studying remotely. You can take advantage of My Student Support Program (My SSP), a confidential and voluntary support service available to you at any time, day or night. See more information below:

Download the app here:

MySSP is confidential, which means that Minerva is not aware of what specific students access their services. If you have any questions or feedback about your experience with MySSP that you would like us to know, you can contact us at wellbeing@minerva.kgi.edu.

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