Effective Communication Tips

“How can I have a better connection to my romantic partner, friends, classmates, and family members?”
“How should I handle the drama and conflicts in my relationships?”

How often do you ask these questions? We all want to be heard–and for others to understand where we’re coming from. . .  But, in order for this to happen, we need to show the other person that we are trying to hear and understand them.  Active listening can help you to connect more effectively with others.   And, knowing how to say what you mean in a way that others can understand will minimize misunderstandings in a relationship.


The process of listening, clarifying, and encouraging the speaker lets the other person know that you are engaged in what they are saying and trying to understand his/her points.

  • Eye Contact – Occasional eye contact can be an important way to communicate to the other person that we are paying attention and that we care.  Otherwise, the speaker may think that we are bored or not listening.  At the same time, there are different cultural standards for eye contact; it can help to take your cues from the other person. Continue reading

Student Advisory Board 2013-2014

Welcome to our new and returning board members

Counseling and Psychological Services would like to extend a warm welcome (and our sincere gratitude) to our Student Advisory Board for the 2013-2014 Academic Year. We are looking forward to collaborating with you!

Jennifer Amador

Araceli Aviles

Marlene Chow

Alyssa Eltzholtz*

Gerardo Jaime

Brianna Jeska*

Wilson Lam

Nadia Mufti

Sharon Munoz

Avery Nguyen*

Ryan Rocha*

*Returning Member

Meet Blair Davis, Staff Psychologist

Twice a month, as part of our ongoing series Meet the CAPS Staff, we get to know one of our staff members as they answer five questions. This week we’re featuring Dr. Blair Davis, staff psychologist and our resident substance abuse guru.

Blair Davis, Psy.D.

Blair Davis, Psy.D.

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

I am a psychologist with a focus on substance abuse and have been at UCSC since August 2012. My office is at Stevenson College. I see students with lots of different concerns, as well as many students who come to CAPS because of a problem with alcohol or another drug. I provide trainings on mental health and substance abuse to students and staff and am involved with some university-wide programs to improve prevention efforts, services and resources around substance abuse. I also consult with staff and faculty, including RAs, about student issues and have been helping develop the CAPS Facebook page and a future CAPS newsletter. Continue reading

The Best of “It Gets Better”

Working to Prevent Suicide Among LGBT Youth

If you’ve been paying any attention to issues concerning the LGBT community over the past few years, you probably are already aware that sexual and gender minority youth are at a higher risk of suicide than their straight and cisgendered* counterparts. In fact, LGB youth are nearly one and a half to three times more likely to report thinking about suicide, and up to seven times more likely than non-LGB youth to have reported attempting suicide. The statistics are even more dire for transgender individuals. Nearly 41% of trans people in the US report that they have attempted suicide at least once.

Activist, writer, and sex educator Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project has been one of the most public and viral efforts to address the feelings of hopelessness and isolation that push many young queer people to consider suicide. What started as a simple message of hope from Dan and his partner Terry has blossomed into a global movement. Queer individuals and allies across the world have recorded personal and inspiring videos in support of LGBT youth, reminding them that they are not alone.

The Video that Started it All

Three years after the first video, thousands of people have posted YouTube videos of their own “It Gets Better” messages. People from all walks of life, including actors, politicians, sports teams, businesses, parents, and college students have participated. In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, I want to invite you watch some of the best “It Gets Better” videos today. If you’re struggling and looking for inspiration, I am willing to bet there’s someone among the diverse array of voices that you can relate to. If you’re an LGBT individual who is in a place to lend some support, I’d encourage you to consider adding your own voice to the project. And if you’re an ally, use this as an opportunity to continue learning about the queer community and consider adding your message as well.


*For those who do not know the term, cisgendered individuals are people “who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity.”

The Most Important Person in Preventing a Suicide Might Be You

In my work as a psychologist, I often talk to students who are worried about the well-being of friends, partners, and family members. One of the scariest things can be the worry that a loved one is considering taking his or her own life. People usually want to help, but worry about what to say, whether they’ll offend their friend or invade their privacy, or make things worse. Sometimes students worry that they will plant the idea by simply asking about suicide.

Unfortunately, in this case, figuring out how to speak up and offer support can be a life-or-death issue. You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to be a trained professional to save a life by reaching out. In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, take 5 minutes out of your day to watch this short video on how to help a friend in need.

If you are concerned about a friend and want to talk with a professional counselor about how to help, you can call us at CAPS at (831) 459-2628. As always, if someone is in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency support.

So, I think I have ADHD.

by Julia Ragen, Psy.D.

Have you noticed that since coming to UCSC you’re having problems you’ve never had before, or maybe ones that were manageable in high school, but now are affecting your grades?

Problems keeping focused in class?

Can’t concentrate while studying?

Can’t seem to settle down to do your homework?

Procrastinating like never before, and pulling all-nighters before deadlines or exams?

If you’re like many UCSC students, you may have come to the logical conclusion that you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD (or ADD).

The good news is that you probably don’t.

ADHD is believed to affect only 3-7% of the population. In other words, more than 9 of out 10 people don’t have it — but a MUCH larger percentage of people still struggle with very real challenges with attention, focus, and getting work done. Continue reading

Meet CAPS Director, Dr. Gary Dunn

Students are often curious about the folks who work over at CAPS and what they’re like. We’re pleased to bring to you our new feature, Meet the CAPS Staff, where we’ll be showcasing a different staff member every post so that you can get to know us a little bit better. First up, I’d like you to meet Gary Dunn, our director!


Gary Dunn, Ph.D.

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

I am in my third year as Director of CAPS.  My role is multifaceted and involves seeing students in our crisis service or initial phone appointments, consulting with staff, supervising doctoral and post-doctoral trainees, addressing staff concerns, working with other areas of the Student Health Center, and interfacing with the University administration. Continue reading