Beyond the acronym: a conversation with CAPS

How Counselling and Psychological Services supports students
Most students will have heard of CAPS, but how many know what to expect from an appointment? First-year Economics student Avish Sharma spoke to CAPS about the services it provides and how to get the help you need.

NOTE: In 2022, CAPS was renamed as Student Counselling Service. You can contact them here:

CAPS – what is it?

The University of Sydney’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides all students with general support and specialist advice for issues impacting their mental health and wellbeing. Most notably, this is in the form of free, individual therapy sessions with clinical psychologists. They also provide digital resources and workshops on topics such as procrastination, resilience and adjusting to change.

Who is it?

CAPS employ clinical psychologists (counsellors) and other qualified staff with experience in student mental health. CAPS say that their counsellors usually have sessions with 5 clients in a day, with time for writing notes and other administrative tasks. They also run online workshops for students and engage in reviews and professional development training.

CAPS staff identified three key values which guide their ethos in delivering student support. Empathy – to understand things from another’s perspective, open-mindedness – to accommodate for the needs of a diverse student cohort, and flexibility – in supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing.

How does it work?

Students will need to book an appointment with CAPS, either online or over the phone. In their first 50-minute session, the student will have the opportunity to share concerns, undertake an assessment and collaborate on the best way forward, with the counsellor discussing options and interventions based on individual needs.

“After the first session, we collaborate with the student to determine best options inclusive of specialist assessment, focused counselling and e-therapy resources.”

Students, mental health and society

Working with students daily, CAPS recognises the unique set of circumstances and challenges facing students today. From acknowledging that university is a significant period of transition, to the unique challenge of providing international student support and anxieties around job prospects, the team at CAPS understands that “for many people, university is a significant period of transition in their lives, and collaborate with students within this context of challenges, transitions and opportunity.”

Reaching out

If you don’t know where to seek help or are afraid to do so, either for you or someone else, you’re not alone. Speaking about our personal concerns and sharing our thoughts with someone else can be daunting, but it’s a necessary step in the process of accessing appropriate support. As the team at CAPS says, “in the long run, people seldom regret trying something even if doesn’t work out; at least they know that’s not for them… we can’t solve all of life's problems by ourselves.”

Good health, every semester

So how can we get through the semester and maintain good health? Here are a few tips:

  • Develop a daily routine that ensures good physical health, accounting for adequate sleep, plenty of exercise, enough leisure time and a healthy diet
  • Plan your semester: mark deadlines, break down larger tasks into smaller ones, work consistently and evenly
  • Ensure you lead a balanced lifestyle, that not only incorporates study, sleep and a social life, but also factors work commitments and extra-curricular activities. Click here if you want to know how to maintain a social life while social distancing
  • When you need it, be brave and ask for help

You can contact CAPS between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. If you need to speak to someone outside CAPS business hours, you can contact the University of Sydney Crisis Line from 5pm to 9am weekdays, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. Call 1300 474065 or text 0488 884 429 (for sms chat option).

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2 September 2019
Student Contributor
Avish Sharma
Bachelor of Economics/ Bachelor of Advanced Studies

Student Counselling Service


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