Cal Lu Advances Student Counseling

Formerly known as Student Counseling Services, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) changed its name on June 1, 2017. It recently modified its services by no longer adhering to a 12-session limit, and made services available in Spanish.

CAPS rebranded for several reasons, said Ginny Maril, director of counseling and psychological services, in an email interview.

“It more accurately reflects what we do. We are staffed by licensed psychologists who are available to provide not only counseling, but also assessment and more complex forms of treatment for mental illness,” Maril said.

According to Maril, CAPS also rebranded to reduce confusion. She said the office would frequently receive phone calls and requests from students seeking academic counseling.

A third reason for the name change was for marketing purposes.

“Since CAPS is an easy-to-say acronym, it is easy to promote, and rolls off the tongue a little better than ‘SCS’ did,” said Beth Turner, outreach coordinator and staff psychologist for CAPS, in an email interview.

In regards to the removal of the 12-session limit, Maril said treatment length will depend upon assessment of student needs.

“Instead, each student is evaluated for the services they need and then a determination of treatment length is made….For example, a person who is experiencing Major Depressive Disorder along with suicidal ideation would likely attend more sessions than a person who needs assistance learning time management skills,” Maril said.

Patsy Wright, Ventura County Medical Center psychologist and California Lutheran University adjunct faculty member, said CAPS understands the relationship between counseling and improvement in student life.

“The fact that they’re willing to extend our counseling means that they have listened to what’s going on in the world,” Wright said. “I really do think it speaks to…Cal Lu’s consistent dedication to their students’ overall well-being.”

According to Maril, CAPS also helps students who need longer-term or more intensive care find resources off-campus.

Junior Kaitlyn Sloniker, who works at Vista del Mar Behavioral Healthcare Hospital in Ventura, said that CAPS no longer having a limit of 12 sessions is a “good thing.”

“Everyone needs help…in some sort of way, and they shouldn’t feel limited,” Sloniker said.

Staff Psychologist Miriam Barillas, who joined CAPS in October 2016, provides services in Spanish to students in another part of CAPS’ expansion efforts. In an email interview, she said language has an important role in the therapeutic process because it can help students feel understood.

“For many of our students, Spanish may serve as their first language and is important as clinicians that we provide culturally competent services that can help students feel more comfortable in sharing about their culture and their emotions connected to their identity,” Barillas said.

In Wright’s previous experience at another school, using interpreters made counseling “almost impossible” and students “didn’t feel cared for.”

“It’s whatever makes someone feel the most comfortable and…it should all be about the client so I think it’s pretty cool,” Sloniker said.

According to Barillas, CAPS is also collaborating with on-campus Hispanic Serving Institution initiative leaders to “enhance and promote” these Spanish services.

“Rendering services in Spanish will improve the effectiveness of therapy, allow for better access to mental health, increase cultural sensitivity, and build upon a multicultural perspective that is beneficial for both client and clinician,” Barillas said.

According to Turner, CAPS offered handouts in both English and Spanish during this year’s Family Orientation. She said these efforts are consistent with Cal Lutheran’s commitments to diversity.

Increasing staff diversity is a long-term goal for CAPS, Maril said.

“My hope is that CAPS will continue to serve as a place for students to come to feel safe, supported, and cared for,” Maril said.

Citlali Erazo