Meet Dr. Audrey Kim, Staff Psychologist

It’s been a long time, friends! We’ve been away from the blog, busy getting Spring Quarter off the ground, but we’re back today with our ongoing feature, Meet the CAPS Staff. Today we’re featuring Dr. Audrey Kim, one of our longest-running psychologists on the CAPS staff. She is a wealth of information and experience! Audrey is also one of our Let’s Talk counselors, so you can drop by and meet her at Baskin on Thursdays between 2:30-4:30 for a quick, anonymous chat.

Staff psychologist Audrey Kim

Audrey Kim, Ph.D.


What is your position at CAPS, and how long have you been working at UCSC?

I’ve been a Staff Psychologist at UCSC since 2001. It’s kind of weird feeling for me to have been here for so long. . . . I moved around a lot when I was growing up and then moved every few years for schools and jobs. But it’s hard to leave once you land in Santa Cruz!

What is your favorite part of your job?

I really appreciate hearing each student’s unique story– it’s amazing how everyone is so different, and yet we are so similar in the ways we struggle. When you’re in the middle of your
own crisis, it can be difficult to have enough perspective to make sense of what’s going on, and it’s easy to feel stuck. I love helping students piece together the puzzle of their life, and figure out new ways to address their problems and become unstuck.

Tell our readers about one of your favorite spots on campus or in Santa Cruz.

I love the view driving down from campus. The view of the ocean in the background and the clouds above is just breath-taking!

What do you do to take care of yourself and relax?

I love hanging out with friends, especially while enjoying good food. I practice yoga regularly and like being outdoors. I am also a movie buff and love both action movies and obscure independent films.

What is one thing you wish you knew as a college student?

Not to sound self-promoting, but I really wish I had known about counseling services! I had no idea such a thing existed and I would have experienced a lot less angst as a college student if I had gone to counseling. I also wish I had not believed all the hype about college–there is so much pressure to have college be the “best years of your life”–but that’s just not the case for many of us. College can be a really exciting time, but it’s also very stressful and challenging, so don’t hold yourself to these unrealistic expectations.

Audrey Kim is a staff psychologist at CAPS, affiliated with College 9.

Slugs Against Sexual Assault

Have you noticed teal ribbons around campus this month? They’re to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which happens every April. Preventing and supporting survivors of sexual assault is an important part of my work at CAPS, and we are grateful to partner with our downstairs neighbors at SHOP to support this mission. Today, SAFE at SHOP intern Erica West shares some information on what you can do to help prevent sexual assault at UCSC and in our communities.

Working Together To End Sexual Assault

Teal Ribbon for Sexual Assault Awareness Monthby Erica West

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and SAFE (Sexual Assault Facts and Education) wants to take this time to spread awareness and support those who have experienced sexual assault. At SAFE we define sexual assault as any unwanted sex act that is attempted or committed without the other person’s consent. Sexual assault is not something we talk about often in our society and so sometimes it may feel like it is a rare occurrence. However 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, sexual assault is also one of the most underreported crimes and so statistics can often be difficult to find and verify. Why do so many people not report their sexual assaults? Continue reading

CAPS Student Hero: Avery Nguyen

CAPS isn’t just a place for students to go for counseling – it’s also a place where students love to get involved! Today, we’re profiling one of fabulous students, Avery Nguyen, who is currently serving on the CAPS Student Advisory board for a second year. Thanks for all you do, Avery!

Avery Nguyen, Student Advisory Board Member

Avery Nguyen, Student Advisory Board Member

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

My favorite part of attending UCSC is being able to take a break from school and be surrounded by the redwoods.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

When I get time away from schoolwork, I like to indulge my internet addiction, watching my favorite TV shows and reading articles on social issues.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

If you’re unfamiliar with CAPS, I’d like to pass on that it’s a really welcoming and safe space with and for many different types of people!

Avery Nguyen is a third year student affiliated with Porter College, majoring in psychology and feminist studies.

Stress Less

I’ve been talking to students all week, all of whom have one thing in common – they’re stressed right now as they are getting ready for finals. Many of them have other stressors that they’re managing as well – family issues, illness, relationship conflicts, depression, roommate issues – that don’t go away just because it’s crunch time at school.

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help us get motivated or give us the extra energy to stay up late to get a paper done when we’d really rather be sleeping. But too much stress can actually become paralyzed. We end up expending our valuable energy just managing the stress itself, and responsibilities, self-care, and yes, grades, can fall by the wayside.

When stress is overwhelming, how can you stress less? One of the best antidotes to becoming totally overwhelmed by stress is good self care. Getting sleep, eating nutritious foods, limiting alcohol and drug use, and finding time to relax are all important pieces of stress management. If you’re extremely stressed and think you don’t have time for self-care, consider the amount of time unhealthy levels of stress are costing you. High levels of stress wreak havoc on our learning, memory, concentration, and ability to think critically – all pretty important for your final exams. Efficiency and time management also suffer when stress leads to procrastination.

CAPS workshopAnother suggestion? Get support! Studies show that students who seek support are more likely to succeed academically than students who don’t. One place to get support around stress is at CAPS’ “Stress Less” workshop this Thursday from 11-12pm. All students are welcome and the workshop is free. Join us at CAPS on the 2nd floor, East Wing of the Health Center (directly above the pharmacy).

For more information about our workshop or to request disability related accommodations, please call (831) 459-2628.

CAPS Student Hero: Jennifer Amador

UCSC CAPS Advisory Board

Jennifer Amador, Student Advisory Board

What’s your favorite part about being a UCSC student?

I love the natural beauty of this campus. I mean, if we want to hike and explore we have the forest (which is like the whole campus) and if we want the beach, it’s just a bus ride away.

Tell us about something you’re passionate about outside of school (e.g., clubs, hobbies, interests, volunteering, activities, etc.)

During the summer I volunteer with various groups and organizations to promote various topics from cultural pride to academic tutoring among teenagers. When I’m not sleeping or doing homework, I enjoy watching movies, hanging out with my friends and swimming.

If you could share one thing that you’d like your peers to know about CAPS, what would it be?

CAPS is an awesome resource. Just because you use CAPS’s services, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy or that something is wrong with you. CAPS is there to help out no matter how complicated or simple your questions and/or problems are.

Jennifer Amador is a second-year Oakes student, majoring in psychology.

Upcoming Workshop: Making Friends With Your Body

Hopefully, you’ve started noticing some of the flyers around campus for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week. This year’s theme is: “I Had No Idea…”

In my role as a CAPS counselor, I talk to many students who feel like they have “no idea” how to balance their desire for a healthy body image (as well as a healthy body!) with the many competing and mixed messages they get from media, peers, family, and other sources. If that sounds like you, or if you’d just like to get a better perspective on your body image issues in general, CAPS would like to invite you to a fun and interactive workshop this Friday. From the facilitator:

“Making Friends with your Body:  Developing a Healthy Appetite and Image at UCSC”

Facilitated by Susan J. Gulbe Walsh, Ph.D. and Diana Elwyn, MFT

When:  Friday, 2/28, from 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Mural Room at the Health Center
Come join us for a psycho-educational and experiential workshop focused on helping students gain perspective on body image issues.  Expressive arts activities, visualizations, journaling, and lost of handouts will assist us in exploring eating and body image issues, as well as develop an understanding of how these issues relate to the culture at UCSC.

All are welcome. For more information or to request disability related accommodations, please call (831) 459-2628.

The New Normal

When body shame and disordered eating become normal, how do we fight for our health?

As a psychologist who talks with dozens of college students every week, I’m disheartened to see firsthand just how common issues with body image and eating are. Of course, given the immense urgency American culture places on being thin, young, and beautiful, it’s no surprise that these issues cause an immense amount of distress. Among the many questions that I ask students during a first appointment, I always ask “Do you have any concerns about your body image or your eating today?” Frequently, and especially (but definitely not exclusively!) from women, the answer that comes back is, “Yes, but no more than normal.”


We live in a place and time where obsessing about that illusive thigh gap or “perfect” number on the scale has National Eating Disorders Awareness Weekbecome normal. But in this case, “normal” does not mean “healthy.” Body shame damages our self-image, hurts our relationships and sex lives, and can cause a great deal of mental and emotional suffering. It can keep us from going places and doing things we want to do – like taking a dance class we’ve always wanted to try, or asking out a crush. And of course, body shame is at the root of eating disorders that can cause terrible damage to our health and can even cost lives.    Continue reading