The CAPS Process (Atlanta)

The counseling process can be an intimidating one.  Check out our 7 steps to the counseling process and as always, please talk with us if you have any questions or concerns.  Thank you for exploring this process with us!


Often, the most difficult step of the counseling process is initiating services.  At the Atlanta CAPS office, that process begins when you call our office or come by the office in person.  Once you have completed this first step, you have taken the big leap towards taking control of what is happening in your life.  On to step 2!


At the Atlanta CAPS office, your first point of contact may be with one of our counselors (Sheffield 215) or our administrative secretary (Sheffield 208). We will gather some basic information from you concerning your availability and look to identify whose schedule may best fit yours. To set up your initial appointment, we'll also need your name, contact information, Mercer ID#/enrollment status, and date of birth. IMPORTANT: Please let us know if you are experiencing an emergency so that we can facilitate appropriate assistance. If you are on the phone while setting up your first appointment, make sure to let us know if you need directions. We recommend that you arrive 15-20 minutes early to our waiting area (Shefield 215) to complete information for your first session. You are now ready for Step 3!


When you arrive for your initial session - hopefully 15-20 minutes before the scheduled start time -- you'll find some water and tea available on the left just inside our front door. Help youself! You will also find two computers in the waiting area for you to choose from and instructions beside each one. Take your time as you enter information about your current situation and pertinent history. Here you also will find more information on our services, an informed consent statement to review, and a brief questionnaire to share how you have been feeling over the past two weeks. Most likely, you will have been greeted by a counselor upon your arrival, but if everyone is in session, get yourself started; if you do have a question while filling in the information, feel free to ask once your counselor is free. Next up, step 4! 


The initial session might be intimidating, especially if you have never been to counseling before.  Stigma may have impacted the way you think about what happens in a therapy session. In our offices, we attempt to make our clients feel as comfortable as possible, without adding to any pre-existing thoughts or fears you might have about counseling.  We do not use big couches, or put you through a series of daunting assessments.  We simply have a conversation with you.  We attempt to get to know you and start to build a foundation that can be used as a springboard for your therapuetic growth.  We start where you want to start.  This first session is merely an opportunity for us to get to know you.  Now we are off to step 5!


In our first session, we get to know why you are coming into session.  In the second session, we delve into a little bit more history.  We save this for the second session, because sometimes a student just needs to decompress in that first session without needing to go through a number of questions assessing ones life situation.  This second session is where we really strengthen the foundation that we started to build in the first session.  Ready to head to step 6?


We have found that the average number of visits for students is approximately 5 sessions.  With that said, this number is not anything to live by.  We have some students who only come once and other students who come their whole college career.  Therefore, after your second session, you and your counselor will work together to determine the length of time that is needed to work through whatever your presenting concerns might be.  Frequency and duration of sessions is mutually discussed throughout the course of treatment.  Once the counselor and student determine that sessions are no longer needed, step 7 occurs!


By this time, you have been seeing your counselor and have been working on concerns you brought to sessions.  You may have found relief or acheived progress, and now you are ready to say goodbye.  You may not need or want counseling again.  You may be taking a break because it is the end of the semester, or the summer has arrived.  Whatever the reason, a final session will occur that will give you some feedback and information for where you go now.  Your counselor might provide you with referrals, books, contact information, or purely give you a simple goodbye.  Know that you can re-initiate services down the road if the need arises.  Hopefully the experience was rewarding and provided you what you were looking for.  However, we acknowledge that counseling is not for everyone, so if you did not get to experience the relief that can come from counseling, maybe there is something else out there that can help.  Talk with your counselor to explore what these other options might be.  Stay healthy.