By Lindsey Shapiro
With the new semester up and running, we are all bombarded with hectic schedules, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Many students find that seeking counseling, wellness, and stress relief services help them navigate stressful times throughout their graduate training. Lucky for us, Emory provides a host of these resources for graduate students. Unluckily, it can be difficult to find detailed information about the resources available to us and how we can access them. Here is a description of some of these great resources and how you can find them for when grad school life gets stressful.
Emory Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has several programs to help students navigate difficulties experienced during grad school. While most students are aware that counseling services are available to them, the number of sessions has been a recent subject of debate. CAPS utilizes what they term a “brief therapy model”, in which students are entitled to 6-8 free and confidential counseling sessions at CAPS, depending on individual needs. If your needs extend beyond this, CAPS will provide you with assistance in finding other resources at Emory, or a long-term provider outside of Emory that works with your insurance plan.
To access CAPS counseling sessions, just call CAPS or stop by the CAPS office to schedule an initial intake assessment. Unlike most appointments made through student health, these CAPS sessions cannot be scheduled online. At the initial assessment, a CAPS provider will chat with you about your counseling needs. Following this assessment, you will be assigned a counselor for the remainder of your sessions. Your counselor will work with you to determine how many sessions will best suit you. All counselors at CAPS are either licensed therapists or therapists in training. If you are paired with a counselor in training, it is likely that they will ask to videotape your sessions. This is simply for their training purposes, and will never be seen outside of CAPS. If it still makes you uncomfortable, CAPS will work with you to find another counselor.
In addition to individual counseling sessions, CAPS provides a number of other services that are free for students, including a 4-week stress clinic, which combines biofeedback techniques with didactic training on stress relief and anxiety management. Further, on Wednesdays from 5-6:30 p.m, CAPS offers a graduate student group session. To access any of these group sessions, you can call CAPS and schedule an initial appointment. CAPS is also home to two adorable therapy dogs, Beowulf and Finn. That $80-dollar mental health/counseling fee that appears on your registration bill every semester supports these CAPS sessions. All of the services described above come at no additional cost. You’re already paying for it – so you might as well use it!
Emory Student Health also provides free psychiatric services for all enrolled Emory students, including evaluation, long-term management, and referrals to other care providers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you are not sure what to do next, CAPS and student health services also offer a free, anonymous, online stress and depression questionnaire so you can check in on how you are doing and receive a personalized response from a counselor (http://www.ulifeline.org/emory/self_evaluator). You can also contact Emory Student Intervention Services (SIS) to help you find the best resources to deal with your stress.
Hidden on the bottom of a Campus Recreation and Wellness webpage is a statement that all Emory students are entitled to a free wellness session per semester through the Emory Wellness Program- but this has never been well advertised to us! These sessions
are sit-down meetings with a wellness coach to discuss goals and strategies for improving the “holistic self”. It is also a chance to chat with the coach about campus wellness resources and opportunities for fitness training. In grad school, it can be easy to lose track of your mental and physical health when things get busy- this is a great opportunity to check back in with yourself during stressful times. As with the CAPS counseling, we pay student activity fees which cover these sessions. Keep your eyes out for other monthly wellness activities at Emory. In the past, Campus Recreation and Wellness hosted Stress Awareness month, with offerings including information sessions with CAPS, free yoga classes, 5k runs, and free chair massages.
If the services provided by CAPS and student health aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities that students engage in for stress relief. For example, The Emory Buddhist club hosts weekly guided meditation sessions, at which all students are welcome. A range of ordained Buddhist teachers from local organizations guide the meditation session each week. The goal of these sessions is to relieve stress and anxiety, heighten focus, and sharpen mental capabilities. Sessions are held every Thursday from 6-7 p.m. in Canon Chapel. If you’re interested in something a bit more active, Emory University Hospital offers free yoga classes to all Emory faculty, staff, and students- free of charge.Both basic Yoga and deep stretch are offered on a bi-weekly basis.
Last year, the Genetics and Molecular Biology Program (GMB) piloted a wellness week for the students in their program. This wellness week included information sessions with CAPS, running groups, healthy food potlucks, and therapy dogs, among other things. Given its success, this may become a GDBBS wide event in the future- so keep your eyes out for other upcoming wellness events! As grad students, we deal with lots of stressors every day, but there are lots of resources at Emory to help us work through it – and we should take advantage of them!
Numbers to Know:
Emory Student Health: 404 -727-7551
Student Intervention Services: 404.430.1120 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellness Sessions: 404-712-1357 or Brandon.email@example.com