Counseling and Psychological Services is the counseling center at Penn. Offering free and confidential services for students, CAPS provides an array of services including individual therapy, group therapy, personal wellness workshops and referral services. Despite all of the discussion surrounding mental health resources on campus in recent months, only about 15 percent of students regularly step into the offices of CAPS. We decided to take this opportunity to explore CAPS and give students a better idea of what goes on in the CAPS office.
The CAPS office is located a few blocks north of Penn’s main campus, at 3624 Market Street, 1st Floor West. After entering the main building from Market Street, the CAPS center is on the right, past the security desk.
Immediately upon entering the office, visitors encounter a waiting area and check-in desk. The CAPS office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Parents and insurance companies are not notified when students visit CAPS.
After checking in, students can wait in the waiting area — which is filled with various flyers of resources to students, coloring books and tissues. Walk-ins are seen on the same day, and after an initial consultation, students can determine the next steps they want to take.
Hanging in the waiting area of the CAPS office is a quilt made by CAPS office personnel. Every year, the professionals at CAPS work on different projects throughout the year to help “de-stress” during lunch breaks and at other times. In 2014, their quilt won a quilting award in Texas.
Moving past the waiting area, the back hallways of the CAPS facility are lined with the numerous offices of the professional resources available to students — including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners and social workers. Some of these rooms are specifically designated as group therapy rooms and include more chairs to allow for larger groups.
Each office is decorated by the individual professional, but typically includes a desk, as well as more comfortable seating area where therapy sessions happen. Therapy is currently offered in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin.
Dr. William Alexander is the director of CAPS. He has been the director since 2009.