Counseling 101: common questions answered

Will anyone find out about my meeting with the counselor?

No, all meetings are strictly confidential, unless the situation is life threatening. Your meeting is not part of your medical or academic record. If you have questions or concerns about confidentiality it is important to talk to your counselor about them.

What can I expect at my first meeting – I’ve never been to counseling before?

At your first meeting the counselor will talk with you about what has been troubling you. Additionally, the counselor will want to get to know you and answer any questions you have. Sessions last approximately 45-50 minutes.

Will anyone think I am “crazy” if I come to counseling?

No, counseling is a healthy and responsible way to address personal issues and not a sign of serious mental illness. Many students come to counseling because they are experiencing difficulty and seeking professional help can prevent a problem from getting worse.

Do you prescribe medication?

We have two psychiatrists who work with our students on a limited basis. Subsequently, we will triage each situation on a case by case basis, and provide appropriate recommendations, which may or may not include a referral to local doctors in the Providence area. Medication is not provided in isolation at CAPS, and students followed for medication at CAPS will also need to be seen regularly by a counselor. Medication is not available over the summer and this is another reason a student might elect to see a local prescriber for continuity of care. We are happy to provide you with a list of doctors or specialists in the area.

If I am looking for a specific kind of therapist, can you help me?

Yes, we have a database of psychologists and psychotherapists as well as areas of interest. Our referrals are usually to therapists close to the school. If you are looking for a therapist off campus, we would be happy to assist you in finding the best match. Whether you are looking for a specialist in eating disorders or an expert in mood and anxiety disorders, we can help point you in the right direction.

What if I am really concerned about a friend who refuses to seek help?

If you are concerned about a friend’s well being, we are available to talk to you about the situation. It can be helpful to talk to a professional and get their perspective. All meetings are confidential unless there are safety concerns to self or others.

Guidelines for New Students currently in Psychotherapy and/or Taking Medication

Talk to your doctor/therapist before coming to college to discuss your plan for ongoing care.

If you meet with your doctor/therapist on a regular basis, we recommend that you find a mental health professional in Providence. Our experience has shown that it is important to establish a relationship with a physician near RISD. This facilitates greater accessibility in obtaining prescription refills, and will be helpful should you require a change in medication or if a crisis occurs.

RISD provides short-term treatment but we are unable to provide continuous long-term treatment. Counseling is quite limited over the summer due to staff vacations and there is no medication resource available during the summer, and students will be given referrals if regular treatment during the summer is indicated.


If you have any questions, you may contact CAPS before coming to Providence, or you may make an appointment when you are settled on-campus.