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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

Let’s be honest — no one is ever truly prepared for the transition to college. Easy A’s and easy friendships are actually pretty hard to come by. In fact, in at least one way or another, college is pretty freaking difficult, and we could all benefit from a little help here or there!

But, asking for help is often easier said than done. Personally, I was terrified to admit that I needed any sort of assistance after my first quarter of college. Before coming to UCSB, I had never even considered professional or group therapy as an option — I was unfamiliar with the process and uncertain of how exactly it would benefit me, if at all. Fortunately, after some encouragement from my roommate, I started my journey with UCSB’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which introduced me to the general therapy process and provided me with the resources I needed. For those of you unfamiliar with CAPS, here’s everything you need to know!

What is caps?

CAPS provides “mental health services” to students, and if that sounds vague, that was exactly their intention. CAPS can assist students with a wide variety of problems and in a wide variety of ways. Whether you’re stressed about a class, struggling with depression, or just going through a rough patch, CAPS will provide you with someone to talk to and/or the next steps to take to ensure that you get the help you need.

CAPS is probably most associated with its Short-Term Counseling service, in which students are assigned a clinician to meet with every two to three weeks. This is the option I chose to take after starting at CAPS. It is best for students who have fairly specific concerns such as struggles with anxiety, depression, anger, relationships, and the transition to college life. Students may schedule several sessions with their clinician, but counseling does not last longer than a few months. 

CAPS also offers single-session therapy in which students discuss a particular obstacle in their life, such as coping with a breakup, for an hour with an assigned clinician. Group therapy and peer counseling are other options for students seeking a mental health support system.

How can I get started?

Students start at CAPS by completing what is referred to as a “Brief Assessment.” This is a questionnaire that includes items about a student’s current emotional state and concerns. Once the Brief Assessment is completed, students discuss their options for care with a clinician. By the end of the session, students should have a clear idea of the next steps for them to take. If a student chooses to pursue therapy, they can schedule their first appointment, which is typically a couple of weeks after their initial consultation.

What Should I expect?

CAPS offers a convenient, affordable, and fairly flexible way for students to seek help. Appointments can take place virtually or in person at the CAPS building on campus. It can also be a great way for students to learn more about themselves and the therapy process as a whole. 

While CAPS can refer students to relevant off-campus resources, such as therapists in the Santa Barbara area, CAPS cannot offer long-term or immediate help to students who need it. In other words, CAPS can provide a great starting point for students interested in starting a therapy journey, but continuous and frequent help is best found elsewhere. 

I found that CAPS was an excellent gateway into the world of therapy. The entire process was incredibly safe, respectful, and informative. Not only did my therapist provide me with insights about my habits and tendencies, but I also discovered what kind of professional help I would need in the future to continue my healing journey. Starting a self-help journey with CAPS can be a truly eye-opening experience for those who wish to learn more about therapy, but more importantly, about themselves.

Kendall is a third-year Communication student at UCSB and an editorial intern for Her Campus UCSB. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually either doing yoga, getting coffee, or planning her future travels.