Short-Term Therapy FAQs

How do I access short term therapy at CCS?

  1. Book an initial consultation (IC) by calling 780.492.5205 or visiting 2-600 SUB during business hours. 
  2. Fill out the paperwork you are emailed once your appointment is confirmed.
  3. Attend the IC, which is a 30-40 minute meeting with a clinician to share your concerns and goals. 
  4. Leave with a plan for next steps, which can include strategies to help, short term therapy at CCS and/or referrals to other services.

How do I prepare for the initial consultation?

It can be helpful to reflect or write down:

  • Your main concerns
  • Any steps you’ve already tried
  • What you’re hoping to get from the consult
  • Any questions you may have

What are the outcomes of the initial consultation?

A consult may be all some students need. For others, the clinician may suggest additional help which could include:

  • Workshops, groups or short term therapy through CCS
  • Referrals to other on-campus services
  • Referrals to mental health services in the community

How do I know if I need therapy?

Short-term therapy can be helpful for anyone wanting to improve their mental health. Common reasons to access therapy include anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness, relationship issues, suicidal thoughts, self-esteem, identity concerns, perfectionism, grief, and trauma. 

Here are a few signs that you could benefit from therapy, according to the APA

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness
  • Your problems don’t seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends
  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities
  • You worry excessively, expect the worst, or are constantly on edge
  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, or being aggressive, are harming you or others

How can therapy help?

Therapy can help you develop a better understanding of yourself and alleviate emotional challenges. It provides a safe space for you to be seen and heard. Depending on your needs, therapy can help you in many ways such as:

  • Learning about the impacts of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Helping you cope with stressful life events
  • Understanding root causes and healing from past harms
  • Changing patterns and moving forward in healthier ways
  • Tapping into your existing strengths and resources 
  • Learning new strategies to navigate through your problems

Therapy aims to help you feel happier, healthier and more productive.

What should I expect if I start therapy?

Therapy gives you space to talk openly to someone objective and non-judgmental in a confidential environment. A first session typically consists of getting to know each other, gathering information on your concerns and background and helping you identify your goals. Together you will make a plan to manage your ongoing mental health concerns and will work collaboratively toward your goals. It’s normal to feel nervous, anxious or even hesitant to try therapy. 

Our psychologists and student clinicians deliver short-term therapy using various evidenced-based approaches. Sessions are 50-minutes long and you can generally rebook every two weeks within a limited time frame. Students seeking weekly therapy or who need longer term services will be referred to the appropriate resources.

Where are the appointments?

In-person therapy appointments are at Counselling & Clinical Services located in SUB 2-600. We are open year round Monday to Friday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM. From September until April we are open until 4:30.

Satellite psychologists see clients in their satellite locations.

CCS also offers telehealth appointments by phone or video.

How much does it cost?

You have free access to all our services at CCS if you are an undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Alberta.

Who will know that I am accessing therapy?

Therapy is confidential. We do not share information with the rest of the university or people you know. For example, if a relative or professor contacts our office about you, we cannot and will not share any information including whether or not you are accessing our services. If you want information to be shared with someone, you must provide written consent. 

There are a few circumstances in which professionals may have to break confidentiality for legal or ethical reasons. These situations include:

  • If you are at imminent risk of harming yourself or others
  • You disclose knowledge of ongoing abuse or neglect of a child or dependent adult
  • Your file is subpoenaed or testimony is required by a court of law
  • You suffer a work or school related injury (physical or psychological) that legally must be reported to the Workers’ Compensation Board

What if I need medication?

If you live with certain conditions including severe anxiety or depression, you may benefit from taking medication. Oftentimes medication combined with therapy can be very effective. If you are interested in medication, you can talk to a physician or request a referral to a psychiatrist. It can also be helpful to see a doctor to ensure your symptoms are not caused by a physical condition. There can be physical causes (eg. hypothyroidism or anemia) for changes in mood, energy, concentration that may require medical treatment rather than therapy.

What are the differences between a counsellor, psychologist, clinical social worker, and psychiatrist?


The term "counsellor" is unregulated in Alberta and so anyone who provides counselling can use this title, regardless of training. Mental health treatment providers can be psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, or have other professional designations, so ask your provider about their credentials!


“A practicing psychologist is trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling and behaviour as well to help people overcome or manage these problems. A psychologist is uniquely trained to use psychological tests to help with assessment and diagnosis. Psychologists help people to overcome or manage their problems using a variety of treatments or psychotherapies,” ( Canadian Psychological Association, 2023). Psychologists in Alberta require a master’s degree and/or a doctoral degree. Only individuals registered with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP) may use the title "psychologist."


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. They have the ability to prescribe medication and their treatment approaches tend to be more biologically based. Psychiatrists can also provide therapy. 

Clinical Social Workers

“Clinical social work is a specialty practice area of social work which focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, emotional, and other behavioral disturbances." (National Association of Social Workers, 2004). Clinical social workers in Alberta require a master’s degree and/or doctoral degree. Only individuals registered with the Alberta College of Social Workers may use the title “social worker.”