Student Recreation and Wellness Center

Counseling / Therapy FAQs

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one-third of adults in the United States experience an emotional or substance abuse problem. Nearly 25 percent of the adult population suffers at some point from depression or anxiety. However, millions of Americans have found relief from depression and other difficulties through counseling. Even so, some people find it hard to get started or stay in counseling. This brief question-and-answer guide provides same basic information to help individuals gain the most they can from counseling.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Who is eligible to use CAPS services? | If I go to CAPS for help, does it mean there is something wrong with me? | What do I do to begin counseling? | How much do services cost?

Who is eligible to use CAPS services?

All admitted UNLV students who have paid their current Health Fee are eligible for psychological services at no charge. For couples counseling, at least one partner must be an eligible UNLV student.

If I go to CAPS for help, does it mean there is something wrong with me?

No, it does not. Most students who use counseling services are interested in their personal growth and adjustment to the world around them. Many students face normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at UNLV and, at times, may feel anxious, angry, lonely, or depressed.

What do I do to begin counseling?

Students should call 895-3627 to schedule an initial intake appointment. In extreme situations, crisis counseling is available for walk-ins without an appointment during regular office hours (Monday-Thursdays from 8am - 6pm, Fridays from 9am - 5pm.) For after hours emergencies, contact: Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services at 486-6000; or Montevista Hospital Crisis team at 364-1111.

How much do services cost?

No fee is charged for counseling services to students who are currently enrolled at UNLV. There is a nominal fee for psychological testing and assessments. Students are responsible for the cost of medications.

A $20.00 "No Show" fee will be charged if your appointment is missed. Failure to cancel a scheduled appointment without a 24 hour advance notice prior to the start of the appointment time will result in the $20.00 applied fee to your Student Wellness account. For couples counseling the fee is $30.00

Counseling & Therapy

Who can benefit from counseling? | When to seek counseling? | What does research show, about the effectiveness of therapy? | How do I find a qualified therapist? | If I begin therapy, how should I try to gain the most from it? | How can I evaluate whether therapy is working well?

Who can benefit from counseling?

Anyone can benefit from counseling because it is a process of self-understanding and learning.  There is no problem that is too big or too small. Listed below are a few examples of some common concerns, which bring students to CAPS:

  • Symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • College adjustment issues such as homesickness, academic problems, and long-distance relationships
  • Interpersonal difficulties, including roommate conflicts, family problems, romantic relationship concerns, problems with assertiveness, and other issues
  • Bereavement and grief related to the loss of a loved one (such as relationship breakups, deaths, parental divorce, or other major losses)
  • Questions/confusion about identity, self-image, sexuality, gender, or religious concerns
  • Concerns about choosing a career
  • Academic problems
  • Concerns about body image, food, eating, or weight, as well as treatment for eating disorders
  • Experience with sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, abuse, or other trauma
  • Thoughts of suicide, death, or hurting others
  • Behaviors that can be harmful to you, like drug or alcohol abuse or cutting
When to seek counseling?

People often consider therapy under the following circumstances:

  • They feel an overwhelming, and prolonged sense of sadness and helplessness, and they lack hope in their lives.
  • Their emotional difficulties make it hard for them to function from day to day.
  • For example, they are unable to concentrate on assignments and their job performance suffers as a result.
  • Their actions are harmful to themselves or to others. For instance, they drink too much alcohol and become overly aggressive.
  • They are troubled by emotional difficulties facing family members or close friends.
What does research show, about the effectiveness of therapy?

Research increasingly supports the idea that emotional and physical health are very closely linked and that therapy can improve a person's overall health status.
According to a research summary from the Stanford University School of Medicine, therapy:

  • Effectively decreases patients' depression and anxiety and related symptoms — such as pain, fatigue, and nausea.
  • Has been found to increase survival time for heart surgery and cancer patients.
  • Can have a positive effect on the body's immune system.

There is convincing evidence that most people who have at least several sessions of therapy are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties. One major study showed that 50 percent of patients noticeably improved after eight sessions while 75 percent of individuals in therapy improved by the end of six months.

How do I find a qualified therapist?

Selecting a therapist is a highly personal matter. A professional who works very well with one individual may not be a good choice for another person. There are several ways to get referrals to qualified therapists, including the following:

  • Talk to close family members and friends for their recommendations, especially if they have had a good experience with therapy.
  • Many state psychological associations operate referral services that put individuals in touch with licensed and competent mental health providers. (Call the American Psychological Association's Practice Directorate at 202-336-5800 for the name and phone number of the appropriate state organization.)
  • Ask your primary care physician (or other health professional) for a referral. Tell the doctor what's important to you in choosing a therapist so he or she can make appropriate suggestions
  • Inquire at your church or synagogue
  • Look in the phone book for the listing of a local mental health association or community mental health center and check these sources for possible referrals

Ideally, you will end up with more than one lead. Call and request the opportunity, either by phone or in person, to ask the therapist some questions. You might want to inquire about his or her licensure and level of training, approach to therapy, participation in insurance plans and fees. Such a discussion should help you sort through your options and choose someone with whom you believe you might interact well.

If I begin therapy, how should I try to gain the most from it?

There are many approaches to therapy and various formats in which it may occur — including individual, group, and couples therapy. Despite the variations, all therapy is a two-way process that works especially well when clients and their therapists communicate openly. Research has shown that the outcome of therapy is improved when the therapist and client agree early about what the major problems are and how therapy can help.

You and your therapist both have responsibilities in establishing and maintaining a good working relationship. Be clear with your therapist about your expectations and share any concerns that may arise. Therapy works best when you attend all scheduled sessions and give some forethought to what you want to discuss during each one.

How can I evaluate whether therapy is working well?

As you begin therapy, you should establish clear goals with your therapist. Perhaps you want to overcome feelings of hopelessness associated with depression. Or maybe you would like to control a fear that disrupts your daily life. Keep in mind that certain tasks require more time to accomplish than others. You may need to adjust your goals depending on how long you plan to be in therapy.

After a few sessions, it's a good sign if you feel the experience truly is a joint effort and that you and the therapist enjoy a good rapport. On the other hand, you should be open with your therapist if you find yourself feeling "stuck" or lacking direction once you've been in therapy awhile.

There may be times when a therapist appears cold and disinterested or doesn't seem to regard you positively. Tell your therapist if this is the situation, or if you question other aspects of his or her approach. If you find yourself thinking about discontinuing therapy, talk with your therapist. It might be helpful to consult another professional, provided you let your therapist know you are seeking a second opinion.

You should spend time with your therapist periodically reviewing your progress (or your concern that you are not making sufficient headway). Although there are other considerations affecting the duration of therapy, success in reaching your primary goals should be a major factor in deciding when your therapy should end.

Therapy is not easy. It is common to experience a wide range of emotions, including an initial and temporary period of distress when significant issues are discussed. However, clients who are willing to work in close partnership with their therapist often find relief from their emotional distress and begin to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.