An Evaluation Of CAPS’ Online Transition

Robert Crohan/Staff Writer

In a world that’s rapidly digitalizing amidst the pandemic, FIU has attempted to move many of its services online. 

Given how crucial Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is to the panther community, it requires an adequate transmission to a fully online format. I went to look at what CAPS has to offer in these troubling times through simple observation and checking in.

On the CAPS website, information on the new CAPS/Victim Empowerment Program call center is provided. Students can make their appointments there, and a clinician will call beforehand to determine the patient’s individual needs. As an in-person CAPS patient last fall, this seems like a very helpful additional feature, as I do not remember receiving a call from my clinician before my walk-in meeting and had to provide information in-person.

So far it’s been fine, but I will go back to in-person service as soon as I can.

An anonymous CAPS patient

In addition, several links were posted to external resources: the Florida Department of Health’s coronavirus webpage as well as FIU’s coronavirus page and a guide to dealing with quarantine anxiety. These are great resources for struggling students who may not have the time or willingness to schedule an appointment. The links provide helpful information including infection and death numbers, and the FIU links provide regular updates on university operations and the disease’s spread from Dr. Aileen Marty.

I spoke over the phone with someone from CAPS and was told that for the most part, all in-person resources have been moved online. All consultations are either over the phone or by video conference, depending on the clinician’s preference. Appointments are available now, with the start of Summer A. It seems that the hours from last semester are kept intact.

The unavailable services are tests and biofeedback, which will resume when campus reopens. A screening would be required first, but tests themselves are unavailable at the moment. The electronic forms students fill out on IPads before appointments will be filled out remotely.

However, not much detail is provided under “services” of how the on-campus ones have moved online. 

Not much detail was provided in my phone call to CAPS either, even with students being left to call for particular details themselves. Online services such as Kognito courses and some e-workshops are still available, and I found them to be educational and very helpful in understanding issues and how to manage them.

Given how successful my in-person consultation(s) were this past school year, some of the comfort and benefit coming from in-person meetings could be lost for the foreseeable future. If someone is not home alone, the complete privacy guaranteed by CAPS is made impossible. Particular services like relationship counseling will also be made extremely difficult. Technical issues with online forms or video conferencing at some point are all but guaranteed, potentially disrupting important appointments.

“I think it’s helpful being able to talk on the phone anywhere and not just an office,” a recent CAPS patient told me. “So far it’s been fine, but I will go back to in-person service as soon as I can.”

CAPS will evolve as FIU is doing, and while some areas certainly need more work, others show promise in delivering needed services for the FIU community.

Featured image by FIU Student Affairs.


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