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Frequently Asked Questions about Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services
We encourage you to come to ECAPS when you are having a difficult time with your transition to Emerson, can’t calm yourself when you are feeling anxious, are feeling depressed, or are having trouble managing your day-to-day life. You can also come to ECAPS to talk about issues regarding relationships and identity, feeling lonely or isolated, or family problems. ECAPS can help you deal with low self-esteem and self-criticism. If you have concerns about your use of drugs or alcohol, a therapist can help you assess and make decisions about your substance use. Every person is unique and you may not see your problem listed above. If you are not feeling like yourself or you are trying to sort out a problem that is difficult to handle alone, we invite you to come talk to one of our therapists.
Brief treatment is typically focused on one or more specific issues and is focused on problem solving. When you come to ECAPS, you and your therapist will discuss the most pressing issues and set goals for helping you.? Many people find that once they have developed strategies to deal with the difficulty that brought them to therapy, they feel ready to stop treatment. In other cases, students realize how helpful therapy is and decide they would like to be in therapy for a longer time. In this case, your therapist at ECAPS can help you find a therapist in the community for long term work.?
There are several ways to get started at ECAPS. You can call our front desk at 617-824-8595 or come into our office at 216 Tremont on the 2nd Floor to set up your first appointment. Someone will be available to work with you to find a time that works best for you. Often, appointments are made several days in advance, but please let the person you speak to know if you need to be seen more urgently.
The first time you come into ECAPS, you’ll have what’s called a triage?appointment. You will be instructed to come 15 minutes early in order to fill out paperwork (which is filled out on an iPad). When you’ve completed the forms, your therapist will review your information and come get you from the waiting room. The intention of this first session is to get an idea of what you're struggling with and what you're looking for in order to make a plan moving forward. ?At the end of this appointment, you and the therapist will discuss options for the next steps.?This might include brief individual therapy or group therapy at ECAPS, a referral to an off-campus therapist, and/or assistance contacting other departments that may be helpful to you. Referrals off campus are given for a variety of reasons, most commonly when the concerns you discuss would benefit from long term or more regular therapy than we are able to offer at ECAPS. If you are referred, the therapist will work with you to make sure you get connected to someone who is a good fit for you and who takes your insurance.
If you and the counselor decide that brief treatment at ECAPS would be the best fit, they will work with you to schedule an intake appointment.?The aim of this session is to get to know you better and get more information about your concerns. Your therapist will talk to you about the problem that brought you into ECAPS, as well as questions about your background and experiences in order to best meet your needs. You do not have to answer any questions that you are uncomfortable with. During the first session, you are also encouraged to ask any questions you might have.
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or you feel suicidal, call or come to ECAPS as soon as possible. Our office is open Monday through Friday 8:45–5:00.? Every weekday, students can come in for Urgent Care hours between 2:00–3:30 pm. If it is an emergency, come talk to our clinical coordinator and she will arrange for you to meet with one our staff psychotherapists.
Students can also talk to a licensed therapist after hours by calling 617-824-8595. Another option is to?call the Good Samaritan hope-line at 1-877-870-4673.
If you feel like you are not able to be safe, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. We suggest the MGH emergency department.
If you are worried about a friend, you can make an appointment with a psychotherapist at ECAPS. Therapists are able to help you navigate difficult situations such as a friend who is depressed, hurting themself, talking about suicide or may have a substance use issue or an eating disorder. We will listen to your concerns and help you develop a plan of how to help your friend and also take care of yourself.
First, know that you are not alone or at fault. You may have a variety of reactions, including shock, depression, numbness, and anger. Healing from this type of experience takes time and support. At ECAPS, we can talk confidentially through options for getting medical assistance, and support at Emerson, such as with the Healing &Advocacy Collective.
If you want to report the sexual assault to the police or to the Title IX Coordinator, your therapist can help you through the process.
ECAPS is a confidential service. We can be with you as you start the healing process. This can involve individual therapy at ECAPS or by helping you find other resources, such as support groups both at Emerson and in the Boston community and therapists in the community who specialize in helping people who have experienced trauma. Other wonderful resources include BARCC, (the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network).
Urgent care hours are between 2:00–3:30pm, Monday through Friday. We encourage you to call ECAPS if you are having thoughts or urges to hurt yourself or somebody else. If you are experiencing these thoughts and urges and ECAPS is not available, please call 911 or go to your closest emergency room. You should also call for an urgent care appointment if you are experiencing such a high level of distress that you are unable to continue your daily activities. Some examples include: having panic attacks, being unable to get out of bed, not keeping up with hygiene, being unable to control obsessions/compulsions, seeing or hearing things that other people don’t see or hear, sleeping way too much or not at all, or not eating.
When you call ECAPS a therapist will call you back and check-in to make sure you are safe and if an urgent care appointment would be appropriate. If you are safe at the moment, the therapist will schedule you for a same-day appointment between 2:00 and 3:30pm. An urgent care appointment is a briefer, more structured appointment than a regular therapy appointment. During your appointment the therapist will assess for safety, provide tips for taking care of yourself, and help you plan supportive and safe activities for the next few days and set up a follow up appointment or referral for you.
ECAPS services are absolutely free of cost for full-time enrolled undergraduate students. Services are also free for part-time undergraduate and graduate students who have paid the Student Health Fee. Assistance with referrals for Emerson community members who are not eligible for services is also provided free of charge.
The length of a regular?appointment is 45 minutes long. Urgent care and triage appointments are shorter, usually 20–30 minutes.? For your first appointment, we ask that you come 15?minutes early to fill out paperwork.
The therapeutic relationship is a very special one, and is unlike relationships you have with your friends or other providers. Feeling accepted by your therapist is crucial to getting better. Your therapist will try to create a helpful and supportive environment. You will be encouraged to talk about how your relationship is going with your therapist, and your therapist will be open to any feedback about what s/he can do to make you more comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with your therapist, we recommend that you discuss this with him/her explicitly and work together to improve your relationship. If you have done this and still feel uncomfortable with your therapist, you are free to request a transfer to another therapist.
The therapeutic relationship between client and therapist is a very important part of treatment. Like all relationships, there is likely to be a mix of feelings at any given time, some positive and some negative. It is important to discuss these feelings with your therapist and working through them can be an important part of treatment. That being said, it is important that you feel like your therapist is a good fit for you. If you feel that you and your therapist are not a good fit, you can discuss that with your therapist and try and find ways in which the therapy can adapt to meet your needs, or you can request a new therapist.
If you are notified by ECAPS that your appointment has been canceled, such as in cases of therapist illness or if ECAPS is closed due to inclement weather, please contact the front desk at (617) 824-8595 to reschedule your appointment.
Mandated appointments are designed to support you, in any way you need. We understand that a mandated appointment can be anxiety-provoking and we want to emphasize that they are for assessment, and not punishment. It is a chance for you to talk about what happened in a safe place and get help if needed. Your therapist will try to better understand where you are coming from and will ask questions about substance abuse, past experiences and your thoughts about the incident that brought you in. Your therapist will help you assess your risk factors for substance abuse and make a plan for going forward, whether that will mean regular counseling, something else, or nothing further. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your substance use online, or return for a second assessment as needed. Your therapist will ask you to sign a release to inform the conduct office that you attended the appointment, but all information about what is discussed will remain confidential unless you give explicit permission. Your first appointment will likely last 45–60 minutes, and you should arrived a few minutes early to fill out paperwork.
YOU have access to your records and a right to confidentiality. Your records (and even the fact that you have come to counseling) cannot be accessed by any other department at Emerson (Conduct, Housing, Student Success…any of them) or your parents, without your explicit written permission.
There are very few exceptions to confidentiality. Because we work as part of a team, your records and information may be shared with other clinicians at ECAPS.? We will also have to break confidentiality if you have indicated that you may commit suicide or seriously harm another person. By law, we also must report if we learn that a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person is being abused. There are also very rare cases when records are requested by court order. In any of these cases, we will only reveal the minimum amount of information necessary and inform you of any break of confidentiality.
At times, you may want to release information about your treatment to other providers. In order to do so, you can sign a release of information form. This release can be taken back at any time you wish. Choosing not to sign a release will in no way affect the quality or amount of care you receive at ECAPS.
The Relaxation Place is free and you can come de-stress with our biofeedback machine to monitor your breathing, heart rate, and skin response while you relax; “Happy Lights” for some sunshine in the grey winter months; meditation tools, such as yoga mats and meditation cushions; or just to have a quiet place for yourself. You can find out more or reserve 30 minutes in the Relaxation Place by calling the front desk at 617-824-8595.
At ECAPS, we have a part-time consulting psychiatrist who offers limited evaluation and management of medications. This service is offered as an adjunct to counseling, meaning you will need to be meeting with an ECAPS therapist in order to be eligible to be seen by the psychiatrist. Please ask your therapist about the referral process and they will work with you to take the appropriate steps. Psychiatric services at ECAPS are free and confidential to students in brief counseling at our center. In order to have long-term medication management, we also provide referrals off-campus to a psychiatric provider that can meet your needs.
As a policy, ECAPS staff does not provide letters to professors for missed classes. However, we support you in taking care of yourself in times of distress and understand that sometimes this involves taking a break from school. We are happy to help you connect with the departments and people on campus that can help you with this process.