Counselling: A Unique Opportunity

What the Coordinator of Counselling Services wants you to know

Carmel Dear (she/her) // Contributor

CapU has a free counselling service available to anyone who’s registered at the school. The department has five counsellors who serve all students and one Indigenous counsellor specifically for Indigenous students, and their shared goal is to help students be their best. 

“I’d encourage people who have never been to therapy to give it a try,” said Saman Khan, CapU’s Coordinator of Counselling Services. She’s been working in mental health services for the past decade. “It’s a misguided assumption that people only go to counselling when they have a problem or are in crisis.”

Who can go to counselling? “We treat every issue under the sun, from anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and academic struggles to serious mental health issues,” said Khan. “If someone requires more specialised support, we refer students to community resources.”

Khan’s average appointment starts by welcoming the student and orienting them to the process of counselling. “Together we map out different areas of their life and come to a shared understanding of what they would like to work on.”

Khan believes that clients deserve to get something out of every session, whether it’s a new perspective or coping skills. “I encourage clients to be full collaborators and to give me feedback through the process and set the pace of the session,” says Khan. “If my client needs referrals, like a medical assessment or accessibility services, I connect them with those services.” 

The university’s insurance policy allows students to access $1000 of coverage for sessions with private practice psychologists. Students can access the CSU website for further information. 

“There are other practices in the community that are free of charge, like the Foundry and the HOPE Centre at Lions Gate Hospital,” says Khan. “That’s where students are referred with more serious issues, like OCD or schizophrenia. We need to refer students outside CapU for anything requiring medical intervention — we can’t do that.”

The counselling department is well-utilized and has hardly any downtime, but the busiest times of year are consistently November and March, reflecting the times when the workload is the heaviest for most students.

Although Khan says that many students come to her and her colleagues with a specific issue that needs to be fixed within a certain number of sessions, such as a conflict or a mental struggle, therapy can make anyone more successful by finding what works for them and implementing better habits. “Because therapy requires hard work, it’s best to start when you’re in a good place in your life.”

Counselling services are confidential, but there are some cases that require exceptions. “When a student is at risk — being suicidal or making a threat against another life, for example,” Khan explains. “We have to report when a minor is at risk of physical, emotional or mental harm and abuse. Confidentiality also doesn’t apply to legal cases.”

Regarding her affiliation with the university, she adds, “I do a lot of community work and am involved with school committees, so I’ve recommended the other counsellors to colleagues interested in becoming clients. I’m either your colleague or counsellor!”

Khan advises students, “Therapy is a self-growth, self-empowerment, and self-care tool that can help you achieve your goals and realize your dreams. It’s rare to receive counselling at no cost, so it’s a unique opportunity.”

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