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Counseling and Psychological Services: Addressing the Mental and Emotional Health of Students

Psychological distress can be a common occurrence among college students as they manage the multiple stresses of academics, relationships, life transitions, and thoughts about the future. Colleges and universities continue to seek ways to support students and address their mental health needs. One resource available to UVA students is Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), an outpatient clinic located in Student Health. CAPS offers clinical services, suicide prevention programming, and other educational outreach.

The broad range of clinical services provided by CAPS includes:

  • psychological and psychiatric assessment,
  • referral and care management,
  • individual, couples, and group psychotherapy,
  • psychiatric medication services,
  • in-person emergency services, and
  • after-hours on-call crisis consultation.

Scope of Services:


CAPS utilizes a brief treatment approach when seeing students in individual psychotherapy. Duration of individual psychotherapy generally lasts between one and eight sessions, with the primary goal of helping students return to a level of functioning needed to be successful in their academic work. Brief therapy is effective in treating many psychological concerns and meets the psychological needs of the greatest number of students. Group therapy is another effective option. Some students remain in and benefit from groups throughout their time at the University.


CAPS provides psychiatry services (assessment and medication management) to students currently engaged in psychotherapy at CAPS or one of UVA’s other on-Grounds clinics. Duration of psychiatry services typically lasts as long as therapy services are being provided to the student.

Some students may be referred outside of CAPS to other on-Grounds clinics, more intensive specialized treatment programs, or private practice providers within the Charlottesville community. Many factors are considered when students are offered a community referral, including acuity and duration of mental health concerns, insurance coverage, access to transportation, and financial resources. CAPS Care Managers assist students with successfully connecting with community referrals. In situations where factors may interfere with a community referral, exceptions to the individual therapy brief treatment approach at CAPS may be made.


Enrolled students who have paid the Student Health fee are eligible to receive services from CAPS at no charge.


Students should contact CAPS (434.243.5150) to schedule a screening with a mental health clinician. During the screening, the student’s needs will be assessed, and recommendations for next steps will be offered. During certain times of the academic year, there is a high demand from students for counseling services, and as a result, students may experience some delay in scheduling initial appointments. If a student is in need of immediate assistance because of psychological crisis, he or she should ask to be seen on an emergency basis.

Emergency Appointments

For students in crisis, a clinician is available to see students between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. After hours and on weekends, a CAPS on-call clinician is available to respond to emergencies and can be reached through the Student Health After Hours service at 434.243.5150. For life threatening emergencies, call 911.

Parent Inquiries

Parents who wish to speak with the on-call clinician about issues pertaining to a student should call during regular business hours. If the call is about an after-hours crisis, parents should contact Student Health After Hours at 434.243.5150. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. Parents should be aware that professional staff will not be able to share any information about a student who is a patient at CAPS without a signed release from the student.


If a student has already been in therapy or receiving psychiatric care prior to admission to UVA, it may be in his or her best interest to seek out a community provider in Charlottesville prior to moving here. If parents or incoming students have questions or need referrals, they can contact CAPS and ask to speak with the on-call clinician.