1. What is Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)?
CPS provides fast access to clinical services. First you have a conversation with a mental health professional via phone and then you schedule an in-person appointment that is booked for a day soon after your phone conversation.
If your circumstances are urgent (make sure you voice the urgency of your situation to the psychological services phone assistant), you will be connected with a counselor right away or other immediate provisions will be made for your care. If you are having an acute psychiatric emergency, you may go directly to Counseling and Psychological Services without an appointment during the scheduled clinical hours. These are Monday - Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m and Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
2. How do I make an appointment?
- Call (212) 854-2878
- There are also walk-in hours that you don’t need an appointment for. These are hosted in different residence hall offices.
- For assistance after hours, call (212) 854-9797 or go directly to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Emergency Room at 113th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, (212) 523-3347.
3. Why do they make me speak to someone on the phone first?
There are a limited number of therapists and psychiatrists and a limited number of hours in the day. Some space in each day must be set aside for emergency cases that need to be seen right away. To ensure that the most acute cases are seen right away, a phone screening is used to assess how urgent your situation is. If your situation is not dire, your appointment may be made for a few days later to allow other, possibly dangerous, cases to be seen that day.
4. When are walk-in hours?
Walk-ins are hosted in various residence halls around campus at different times. Click here for the times.
5. Who works at CPS? Are they doctors?
Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers work at CPS. You will be seen by someone who is qualified to handle your situation. All psychologists have PhDs, all psychiatrists have MDs and all social workers have a masters in social work.
You can look at the biography, background, and qualifications of each staff member of CPS here.
6. Is there a limit on sessions at CPS?
No, there is no limit. While CPS, like most college and university counseling centers, is oriented toward crisis intervention and brief psychotherapy, clinicians at CPS do not work under the constraint of an arbitrary number of sessions. Rather, the goal upon meeting with a student is to collaborate in developing a plan as to how best to address that individual’s needs and concerns. If it seems that those needs can be met in a relatively brief period of time, CPS undertakes to work with the student at CPS. If it is clear from the outset that a student wants or requires an open-ended or highly intensive treatment program, CPS may recommend off-campus services sooner rather than later, so as not to create unnecessary delay in helping the student access the appropriate kind of care. Most of the students CPS sees are able to get the help they need in a relatively brief period of time; consequently CPS is able to meet the needs of the majority of students without referral to outside resources.
Students who would like periodic assistance during their years at Columbia are welcome to return to CPS from time to time for a cluster of counseling sessions to tackle new concerns. Students can easily be seen intermittently; it is only those students who want and/or need long-term continuous therapy or who require specialized care (e.g., treatment for a serious substance use disorder, an eating disorder program; a DBT program; intensive psychodynamic therapy) who are typically referred off campus.
7. Why can’t all psychological/psychiatric services be provided by CPS?
Counseling centers that are successful in reaching out to the student body are inevitably very busy places, given the many stresses and strains of university life everywhere. CPS sees approximately 4500 students each year. In order to remain accessible to so many students, even as well-resourced a center as CPS is, it cannot provide unlimited care.
8. How do referrals work?
To assist students with referrals, CPS maintains a large network of qualified therapists and treatment facilities that accept the Columbia Student Health insurance (Aetna Student Health) because the majority of Columbia students are covered by this plan. For those students covered by other insurance companies, CPS clinicians will review in-network lists of providers who accept the student’s plan and identify those, if any, who are in the referral network.
Depending on a student’s particular circumstances, CPS will frequently arrange a phone call or schedule a meeting to discuss how well a referral is working. In every instance, CPS invites students to get back in touch if a referral is not to their liking; since there is a great deal of personal chemistry involved in therapy. Despite CPS’s best efforts, it is inevitable that from time to time the “fit” between a student and counselor will prove disappointing. CPS is glad to assist with alternative referrals when this occurs.
9. How does CPS know the referral therapists and treatment centers are qualified?
CPS periodically undertakes quality assurance studies by asking for student feedback. Several months after students begin treatment off campus, CPS contacts them to get their feedback. While checking in shortly after referral is important, it only tells CPS whether the initial “match” is promising. CPS wants to insure that students are benefiting from the counseling they receive off campus as it unfolds over time.
10. What if I don’t like my therapist/psychiatrist at CPS?
Students who don’t feel there is a good fit with their CPS counselor can request a change. CPS wants to succeed in helping, so it’s important you feel comfortable with your counselor.