Counseling and Psychological Services

Student studying

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) seeks to assist students in developing greater self-understanding and help resolve problems that interfere with their optimal personal functioning. It is normal to experience adjustment problems, especially during periods of transition. CAPS provides brief therapy to any enrolled students.

Although CAPS staff strive to see students as expediently as possible, there are times during the semester when the center is heavily impacted, most often during midterm and final exams. The typical wait for service is 2 weeks. Students will be seen the same day for mental health emergencies (crisis in red section below).

To make an appointment at CAPS, please visit or call our office at 415-422-6352 between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM Monday- Friday. We are located in Gillson Hall, Lower Level. 

Our After Hours line is available after 5:00 PM on weekdays and 24/7 on weekends and holidays by calling (415) 422-6352 and pressing 2 when prompted. This is a free mental health consultation by a counselor. 

Our All Hours line (855-531-0761) provides free support and consultation to students at additional campus locations and is available 24 hours daily including weekends and most holidays.

Please note: CAPS does not provide letters to verify emotional support animals.

CAPS does not provide accomodation letters for anyone seen less than 3 times in the current academic year. If you are seeing an outside mental health practitioner, please request an accomodation letter from them.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde

Dealing with the effects of trauma

Coping Mechanisms

  • Care for yourself by eating well, exercising, and rest when needed. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and depressants such as alcohol
  • Seek out comfortable, familiar surroundings and avoid spending too much time alone.
  • Share your trauma with those you trust. Feel free to set boundaries with people who have not been helpful in the past.
  • Don’t be anxious if reactions from past traumas reemerges even though you may have felt those issues were resolved
  • Give yourself time to recover. Difficulties with concentration, memory, or decision-making are common but short-term reactions. Focus on concrete, easily achievable tasks.
  • Remember that difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of being “hyper-alert” are common and will diminish in time.
  • Avoid personalizing or taking responsibility for how others respond to the traumatic event. Do not compare or measure your reactions to those of other people-- each individual’s experience is unique and personal.
  • Communicate your feelings clearly. Others may not know how to respond to you appropriately. Let them know which responses are helpful and which are not.
  • Be mindful of how the media reports affect you. While having information is helpful for some crises, some people may want to limit how much they read, listen to or watch the news.
  • Common reactions to trauma:

    Physical Responses:
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle Tension
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Upset stomach
  • Emotional responses:
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Feeling unsafe or vulnerable
  • Guilt / Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Shock or numbness
  • Mental Responses:
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering the details of an event
  • Behavioral Responses:
  • Behavioral​ ​Responses
  • Angry outbursts
  • Crying
  • Decreased energy/ambition  
  • Fear of being alone
  • Increased use of alcohol or medications
  • Irritability
  • Marital/Relationship conflict
  • Withdrawal from others
  • What If We Talked About Physical Health the Absurd Way We Talk About Mental Health?

    By "Attn:". What if we talked about physical health the way we talk about mental health?

    Me Too (Duke University)

    Me Too

    The Me Too Campaign was created to promote and enhance a supportive campus climate here at Duke University. The Me Too Campaign provides space for students to share their fears, strengths, stories, feelings, and experiences, as well as to start community conversation about the very real experiences of its members

    #StopTheStigma- an Emmy winning video from North Carolina State University

    #StopTheStigma - Full Version

    "So many of us are affected by suicide. Yet we struggle to talk about it as a community, and many of us struggle alone with suicidal thoughts. So, we asked students on the Brickyard, "What is your story? How have you been impacted by suicide?" We found out that students had powerful stories to tell, and that silence is part of the problem. Many students have broken the silence with their stories of struggle and resilience, and here we feature three of them.

    We know that suicide can be scary to discuss. There are resources to support you. If you need help, reach out. For yourself, or someone you know."

    Tips for Managing Emotionally-Laden Classroom Discussions

    Self-care for Activists

    CAPS provides a safe space for discussions on identity, empowerment, intercultural competency, and the impact of the election. As this is a highly emotional time for our nation, we recommend several strategies to care for yourself and help you remain productive throughout the semester including:

  • Acknowledging your feelings: check your emotional state before you engage in conversations. Are you in a space to dialogue?
  • Focusing on tasks or events that are in your control
  • Connect with friends, family, a community, or safe space to ground and support you
  • Focusing on the present and shifting away from the future focus
  • Monitoring your media use—check your reactions before and after taking in the information; set time limits
  • Opt out of unproductive conversations. Pay attention to whether the discussion is going to benefit anyone or just increase stress levels
  • Take care of basic needs such as eating, sleeping, drinking water, playing, and laughing. Incorporate activities that recharge you and relax you every day
  • Volunteer for an organization that supports your values and interests on or off campus
  • Contact the Bias Education and Resource Team (https://myusf.usfca.edu/bias) if you have experienced a bias or identity-based violence
  • Utilize self-care apps such as Breathe2Relax (iPhone, Android); Mindshift (iphone, Android); Stop, Breathe, Think (iPhone, Android); Headspace (iPhone, Android); Virtual Hope Box (iPhone, Android)
  • Check our website for additional support and resources
  • Seven Affirmations to Have a Positive Start to Your Day

    1. I make plans but I remain flexible and open to the surprises that life has in store for me. I try to say yes as often as possible.
    2. I cultivate patience and by doing so I also cultivate self-confidence.
    3. I welcome the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, and I do not let myself be guided by fear.
    4. I love myself unconditionally because it is essential to my happiness. I love the person that I am and I do not need other people's approval to accept myself fully.
    5. I am going to drink water, eat frutis and vegetables, walk, take the stairs, and exercise. Today I am nurturing (giving love to) my body.
    6. I give everywhere I go, even if only a smile, a compliment, or my full attention. Listening is the best gift I can give to those around me.
    7. I try to be impeccable with my word. I speak only to spread positivity. It is counterproductive to my happiness to speak against myself or against others.

    Resources in Times of Crisis

    USF Campus Lifeline

    USF Campus Lifeline assumes that each of us has a responsibility for promoting our individual and collective safety. To help us fulfill that responsibility, Counseling and Psychological Services has developed a brief but important PowerPoint presentation about suicide and violence on campus. The 10-minute presentation covers specific mental health issues and identifies campus resources.  Please be informed and effective members of USF Campus Lifeline and consider saving the presentation on your desktop so that it is available for future reference.