Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides confidential evidence-based mental health services for students. CAPS seeks to facilitate good academic performance, enhance personal growth, and help students develop effective coping strategies to meet the challenges they encounter. CAPS offers individual and couples therapy, and medication management. CAPS also offers psychoeducational groups targeting important issues related to student wellbeing.
During your first visit with a CAPS staff member, you will participate in an initial assessment interview to help determine how we can best assist you. At the conclusion of the initial evaluation, you and the CAPS staff member will develop a set of goals and a plan of action. An initial evaluation is typically scheduled for 90 minutes.
We hope that you will be an active partner in your treatment at CAPS. The therapeutic relationship between you and your provider is very important. Please let him/her know if you feel that a different treatment approach or a different provider would be of greater benefit to you. You may also request a different provider by speaking directly with our administrative assistant. If you have particular time constraints for your appointments, please let your provider know that as well.
If you see your provider somewhere on campus, you can decide whether you want to acknowedge them or not; either choice will be respected.
The focus of therapy is to help you address your problems, better understand yourself, and improve your coping skills so that you can enjoy greater productivity and adjustment. Individual sessions are typically scheduled for 50 minutes.
Substance Abuse Counseling
Alcohol and/or drug use can have a serious negative impact on academic and clinical performance. Abuse of alcohol or prescription medications or the use of illegal substance can derail a promising career and endanger others. CAPS provides evidence-based confidential individual therapy for individuals with drug and alcohol abuse. CAPS endeavors to assist students to choose to abstain from all illegal substances, to carefully evaluate the role alcohol plays in their lives, and make behavioral changes to remain healthy, safe, and to practice their future professions ethically and responsibly.
Therapy will be based on cognitive-behavioral approaches to help the student to identify both internal and situational contributors to alcohol and drug use, and to develop specific skills to make behavioral changes. Therapy will also focus on helping the individual recognize situations which may put them at risk for relapse and to learn and apply strategies to avoid and/or manage temptations.
CAPS also assists students and colleges by arranging for screening for drug and alcohol use and on-going random testing for alcohol and substances when needed.
Certain problems are best addressed by seeing a couple together. CAPS provides couples therapy to any student and his/her partner involved in a significant relationship, whether married or unmarried, heterosexual, gay, or lesbian.
Psychopharmacologic Assessment and Management
CAPS Psychiatry Residents and Attending Psychiatrists provide evaluation and ongoing medication management for such problems as depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia, etc.
CAPS provides therapy for students with ADHD and related diagnoses; however, CAPS does not manage medication for these diagnoses. Students are encouraged to continue their relationship with the current prescribing provider or seek care from a local provider.
Sometimes faculty and students are concerned about what, if any, action to take if they believe another student is experiencing difficulties. The CAPS staff will meet or speak by phone with the concerned individual to explore options and make recommendations. The concerned faculty member or student need not identify him/herself or reveal the name of the student. Consultation is available to:
- students concerned about a friend or family member
- student groups and organizations
- faculty, administrators, and staff concerned about students
- faculty concerned about interpersonal interactions in the classroom environment
- departments and other MUSC offices interested in learning about student issues
Students and faculty have the option of submitting concerns to the Behavioral Support and Intervention Team (BSIT). CAPS works closely with this group of campus experts.
Psychological testing is available to aid in the diagnosis of various conditions, including depression, anxiety, or problems affecting learning.
Evaluation for Testing Accommodations
Learning disabilities can interfere with academic progression, test performance, and career performance. Learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during childhood or adolescence because they disrupt academic performance to a degree that the learning disability is identified early in the student’s academic progression. In rare circumstances, learning disabilities may not be identified until entry into graduate or professional programs.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is committed to providing appropriate evaluation and diagnosis for students who may have learning disorders. Careful evaluation is essential in identifying learning disorders. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides specific criteria which must be met in order for a student to be diagnosed with a learning disability.
Testing and evaluation is conducted over a period of weeks or, in some cases, months.
Many people have strengths as well as weaknesses in various academic areas. A relative weakness in one particular area (e.g., reading, mathematics) does not necessarily indicate a disorder. Poor academic performance without evidence of an underlying cognitive deficit would not indicate a learning disorder.
There are many factors which can contribute to difficulties in academic performance, including anxiety or other psychological issues, fatigue, low motivation, poor preparation or study skills, or cultural/language issues. Many of these factors can be addressed through working regularly with the staff at CAPS or the Center for Academic Excellence.
When a learning disorder is present, appropriate accommodations may be requested to minimize the impact of the learning problem. Students may seek instructional or testing accommodations at MUSC, or testing accommodations on national professional licensing examinations. Many organizations, including MUSC and testing organizations which administer licensing examinations, require that testing has been completed within the last three years.
The following information is provided to help you understand the evaluation process. If you have any questions, please call the CAPS Office at 843-792-4930.
- Please call the CAPS office at 843-792-4930 and ask for an appointment for an initial intake evaluation. This evaluation will take about two hours and will include the gathering of general background information in addition to more specific information which may relate to the learning-related issue.
- Bring to your first appointment copies of any previous evaluations for learning disabilities.
- In order to provide appropriate evaluation and recommendations, CAPS staff will conduct the initial individual assessment (intake), and as part of this assessment, will carefully review previous testing reports provided by the student.
- Based on the information obtained during the intake evaluation and information from previous testing reports, our staff members will make a determination as to whether or not testing is indicated and, if so, what are the most appropriate tests to be administered.
- If testing is NOT indicated, the student will be offered appropriate mental health services or a referral for other needed services.
- If testing is indicated, the CAPS staff will determine which tests are likely to provide the most useful information. Testing will be scheduled in 2-hour blocks. It may take several testing blocks to complete the test battery. In some instances, initial testing results will reveal the need for additional, more specialized tests.
- Following completion of testing, the staff member will need a minimum of one week to score the test, provide feedback to the student, and generate a written report. In some circumstances the complexity of the testing may require additional time for scoring and interpretation.
- This evaluation process may take several weeks, so we recommend that a student seek evaluation at least a month in advance of any test or exam if they are seeking accommodations at MUSC.
- National examinations for most licensing organizations require that the application for accommodations and appropriate documentation be submitted well in advance of the test date to allow for review and processing. Please check with your individual licensing board to determine the appropriate time frame and seek evaluation early to meet board requirements.
- Because of the complexity of the testing, and the importance of consistent observations for test interpretation, a student will see the same individual CAPS therapist for all testing blocks.
- Please note that CAPS will complete the evaluation and send a written report of findings and recommendations for appropriate accommodations. The student is responsible for completing a request for accommodations through the Disabilities Coordinator for each college. This Disabilities Coordinator (not CAPS) is responsible for making a determination regarding accommodations for the student and implementing accommodations which are granted.
- For licensing exams, each professional entity has its own requirements for accommodations. Students should review the information provided on the website of the testing entity for their profession. It is also important to be aware that many testing organizations have their own time requirements and deadlines for receiving and reviewing requests for accommodations.
References and links regarding accommodations:
Nursing (refers you to state agency)
Physical Therapy (refers you to state agency)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Effective January 1, 2016, CAPS will no longer provide psychometric testing for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or provide medication management for ADHD for new patients at CAPS. If you are currently receiving prescriptions from a CAPS physician for ADHD, this service can be continued until you graduate from MUSC, but our physicians will not begin any new medications for ADHD.
CAPS will continue to provide individual therapy to assist with related problems, including organization, time management, problem-solving, decision-making, emotion regulation, procrastination, and relationship issues.
If you are currently under treatment for ADHD with an outside provider, you will need to continue with your current treatment provider or other community providers. If you have the MUSC school sponsored Student Health Insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) and administered by Academic Health Plans (AHP), care for ADHD should be covered under the policy if their conditions are met (which may include appropriate testing and preauthorization for medications). You can call the AHP Student Health Insurance Customer Service directly at 1-855-823-0319 for information.
If you are covered under another insurance plan, please check with your insurance company about coverage and community providers. In this case, it remains important to confirm with community providers their office practices with regard to insurance coverage.
CAPS does not make referrals for ADHD or neuropsychological testing. The MUSC Student Health Plan (AIG) does not require referrals for mental health care or ADHD.