The COVID-19 pandemic has brought along immense changes in how people usually operate, including accessing mental health services. Following the quarantine and social distancing measures, on August 17th, the Counseling and Psychological Services Center Director, Dr. David Ramirez, issued a notice to the student body explaining the expected C.A.P.S.’ study schedule for the fall semester.
On-campus students and those living within Pennsylvania would be free to access personal tele-mental-health services. Students living out of the state would benefit from three teleconsultation sessions. The latest development details all students, regardless of their current residence, would be free to access Talkspace, a mobile and virtual therapy platform.
According to Dr. David Ramirez, these changes from in-office therapy sessions to virtual therapy would favor both the students and therapists amidst the growing pandemic. A major concern felt after these changes cited the difference in the quality of the C.A.P.S. sessions and its long-term results. Some beneficiaries of the virtual therapy sessions stated that there wasn’t much difference in the quality of the virtual and in-person therapy sessions. Li Dong, a student who has already benefited from the program, suggests that first-timers may find it hard to accommodate the new technique bearing in mind they have no previous relationships with the assigned therapists.
Another student with experience using C.A.P.S. services, Mikaela Prestowitz, couldn’t agree more with Li Dong about the major concern attached to using these virtual therapy sessions as a first-timer. Mikaela commented on C.A.P.S. being on Zoom, stating that it will take some time to adjust to the new technique. She isn’t convinced about the switch yet, although the whole idea has been on her mind.
According to Dr. Ramirez, the placement and schedules of the new therapy sessions have been heavily swayed by the state laws for mental health professionals. They include biweekly in-person sessions with C.A.P.S. therapists for students living in Pennsylvania and three sessions for those residing out-of-state. The laws currently guide students’ access to therapy sessions, and the institutions have limited power to adjust these regulations. While many students, including one Edna Olvera, feel that those based out-of-state have limited therapy sessions, some are opting not to go along with the schedule stating the progress from the sessions would be inadequate.
Despite these limited C.A.P.S. therapy sessions, Ramirez was proud to announce that all students would have access to Talkspace and make therapy readily available regardless of the location. The online and mobile therapy application offers video, chat, and audio therapy sessions with a dedicated therapist. This partnership would see the inadequacy of C.A.P.S. therapy sessions quenched.