The “No Point in Trying Again” Myth

Did you have a bad experience in therapy, and now find yourself feeling hopeless or reluctant to try again? CAPS psychologist Blair Davis explains why it’s worth giving it another go.

Myth: Therapy didn’t work for me before, so it won’t help if I go to CAPS.

Fact: Just as some physicians aren’t a good fit for some patients, some therapists are not the right fit for you. If you had a medical doctor you didn’t like, would you decide never to go to a doctor again if you were sick or injured? Probably not. Maybe a therapist you saw in the past just didn’t have the right personality or style for you. It’s worth another try if you have concerns that might be helped through counseling. Continue reading

The Off-Campus Referral Myth

Sometimes students tell us they’ve heard we refer everyone off-campus. The short answer is that this isn’t true. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Dr. Blair Davis clears this one up!

Myth: If I contact CAPS, I’ll be referred off campus.

Fact: Many students are seen at CAPS for brief, individual counseling, but other students may be referred off-campus for a variety of reasons. There are many factors that go into these decisions, the main one being what is the best way to address your concerns. Just as you would not go to the Health Center for open-heart surgery or for intensive physical therapy after an injury, CAPS may not have the right resources to help you with certain issues. Some problems require more time or more frequent appointments than students generally will have with a CAPS counselor, and other problems require specialized services that CAPS doesn’t provide, such as ADHD assessment or alcohol and drug detoxification services. Also, at certain times when CAPS is very busy, it may take less time to get an appointment with an off-campus therapist than with a CAPS counselor.

The Medication Myth

If you’ve ever accessed the internet or watched television, you’re surely aware that there are a wide variety of psychiatric medications out there prescribed to address things like depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Concerns about stigma and side effects have made some students wary of medication – and by extension, of accessing CAPS services. Dr. Blair Davis helps sort out fact from fiction.

Myth: If I go to CAPS, I’ll be put on medication.

Fact: CAPS offers a variety of services, including counseling and psychiatry (medication). There are reasons why medication makes sense in some situations and not in others. There are also ways to treat certain problems (such as depression and anxiety) without medication that can be very effective. CAPS works with each individual to figure out what is the best way to address his or her particular concerns, which may or may not include discussing medication. Medication is never forced on students, but it may be recommended as an option. In this case, CAPS will help explain the process of talking to an on-campus or off-campus doctor about medication options, benefits, and possible side effects.

The “Not Serious Enough” Myth

Despite ongoing efforts to fight stigma and battle myths about counseling, many UCSC students still have misconceptions about CAPS and what we do. CAPS psychologist Blair Davis takes on these myths and lays down the truth, so you can separate the fact from the fiction.

Myth: Counseling/therapy is only for people with serious mental health diagnoses.

Fact: Counseling is for anyone who needs to talk to someone about issues in their lives. Everyone needs help, support and advice from time to time. We at CAPS see everything from “day-to-day” issues like roommate problems to serious mental health conditions and everything in between. Therapy can help with lots of problems.

I think of it a little bit like going to the doctor. Sometimes we’re there for something serious, but far more often we’re getting treatment for the routine problems that come up from time-to-time: a sprained ankle, a rash, strep throat, back pain. We might even just be there for a checkup or a vaccine. Assuming that counseling is only for people with serious mental illness is about as silly as assuming that going to the doctor is only for people who are terminally ill.

The Five Session Myth

Here’s a myth that I hear frequently, but I’m not sure where it comes from. Dr. Blair Davis gives us the straight facts!

Myth: Students get 5 sessions of counseling at CAPS per school year.

Fact:  There is not a “set number” of one-on-one sessions. CAPS provides brief therapy, which typically means anywhere from one or two meetings to a handful of meetings in an academic year. Some students may also be referred to a group, a medical doctor, academic services, an off-campus therapist, or another resource. Your CAPS counselor and you will collaborate to decide what makes the most sense based on what is the best way to address your concerns, and other factors.

Myth Busters: CAPS Edition

Sometimes, the counselors at CAPS feel a bit misunderstood.  We do our best to educate the campus about our services, but a few sticky, persistent myths keep coming up. CAPS psychologist Dr. Blair Davis wants to do something about that, so starting today, she is fearlessly fighting misinformation, one piece at a time!

Myth: CAPS only sees students in crisis.

Fact: CAPS sees students for lots of reasons – no crisis required. Give us a call at (831) 459-2628, or come in to the central office (Health Center complex, East Wing, 2nd floor), and we will help set up an appointment for you. The first appointment is usually a short phone “screening” so we can start helping you figure out the best course of action. Following the phone appointment, you may be scheduled for an in-person “intake” appointment with one of our counselors or referred to other on-campus or off-campus resources. It all depends on what is the best way to address your concerns.

If you are in crisis, come in to CAPS during business hours, call us (831-459-2628) any time (we offer 24-hour crisis counseling by phone) or call 911 or a mental health/suicide hotline, such as the local Suicide Prevention Services number (831-458-5300) or the Santa Cruz County Mental Health line (831-952-2335).

Dr. Blair Davis is a psychologist at CAPS, who focuses on Alcohol and Other Drugs. She is located at Stevenson College.