Carnegie Mellon University

Tele-Mental Health

We are pleased to have the opportunity to serve you. CaPS is a voluntary, confidential counseling support for currently enrolled students.

Distance Counseling

CaPS offers distance counseling via face-to-face video conferencing to currently enrolled CaPS students who meet the eligibility criteria for distance counseling services. Due to licensing laws, CaPS counselors may only provide ongoing therapy to those who are currently in the state of PA. Additionally, this service is available to clients assessed as being appropriate for this form of counseling. If a student is not eligible for this form of counseling, CaPS counselors will provide support and referrals to appropriate services.

In order to set up services with CaPS, please call 412-268-2922 to schedule an initial consultation appointment. You will choose a password for all future sessions, and will enter this into Zoom Healthcare to enter the meeting. This process protects you from another person posing as you. You will be provided an email confirming your appointment with directions to review and sign the informed consent for telehealth services. The initial consultation will be virtual via Zoom and will be an opportunity for a clinician to get a good understanding of your needs and connect you with the most appropriate supports. This may be telehealth therapy or a more appropriate service. If telehealth therapy at CaPS is identified, you will be connected with an appropriate CaPS therapist.

It is important to note that video communication may lack some visual or audio cues that on occasion may result in misunderstanding. This can be limited to a degree by using a stationary device such as a laptop or large tablet and remaining in the same room for your sessions. Should misunderstandings happen, it is important to assume that your counselor has positive regard for you, and to check out your assumptions with your counselor. This will reduce any unnecessary feelings of discomfort.

Video conferencing counseling sessions are held via Zoom Healthcare, a secure and confidential video conferencing platform. You will sign in with your Zoom app, but the therapist’s Zoom makes it more secure and confidential. It is recommended that you sign on to your account at least 5 minutes prior to your session start time. You are responsible for initiating the connection with CaPS via the provided software link and your identified password at the time of your session.

Limitations of Distance Counseling

Distance counseling should not be viewed as a substitute for face-to-face counseling or medication by a physician. It is an alternative form of counseling with some differences from traditional counseling. For example:

  • Due to the use of technology, video counseling may have disruptions in service and quality of service.
  • If you are having a crisis, acute psychosis, or suicidal or homicidal thoughts, video counseling might not be appropriate for you needs.

Emergency Management for Distance Counseling

So that CaPS is able to get you help in the case of an emergency and for your safety, the following measures are important and necessary:

  • Your counselor will need to know the location/address in which you will consistently be during counseling sessions, and will need to know if this location changes.
  • Your counselor will request that you identify someone, whom you trust, to give your counselor permission to contact should a situation occur that your counselor believes you to be at risk. You, and/or your counselor, will verify that this emergency contact person is able and willing to go to your location in the event of an emergency, and if your counselor deems necessary, call 911 and/or transport you to a hospital. You will also provide the name/location of the nearest Hospital Emergency Room.

Backup Plan in Case of Technology Failure

  • The most reliable backup is a phone. Therefore, it is recommended that you always have a phone available, and that you provide your counselor with your phone number.
  • If you get disconnected from a video conferencing session, re-start the session. If you are unable to reconnect within ten minutes, please call your counselor.

Scope of Service and Eligibility

CaPS provides services for all eligible students, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or veteran status. If it is determined by the clinical staff that an individual’s needs exceed the scope of service or expertise available at CaPS or that your needs cannot be adequately met by participating in distance counseling, we will assist you to identify an appropriate referral to meet your needs. CaPS does not pay the costs of therapy or community resources/treatment services to which you may be referred.


Confidentiality is essential to your counseling progress. Our counselors are therapists who are ethically and legally bound to maintain your confidentiality. A written and/or electronic record (date, time, nature of meeting) of your contacts with CaPS will be maintained in a secure manner. 

Video conferencing sessions in our office are provided behind a closed door. All video conferencing correspondences will be done through Zoom Healthcare, which is encrypted to the federal standard.

To schedule a pre-screening consultation appointment or for questions give us a call at 412-268-2922. For more information about our services and for additional resources

Suggested Privacy Measures for Distance Counseling Clients

CaPS recommends that you (the client) are aware of and use safety measures for keeping your PHI (Personal Health Information) confidential, including but not limited to the following suggestions.


It is recommended that you store all paper documents with your PHI in a locked cabinet.

When participating in distance counseling it is also recommended that you:

  • Conduct the sessions in a private location where others cannot hear you.
  • Use secure video conferencing technology. CaPS uses Zoom Healthcare, a secure and confidential application.
  • Do not record any sessions. If your Zoom Healthcare meeting has a record option, please notify the counselor immediately.
  • Ensure that you do not have a digital assistant (i.e. Google home, etc.) device nearby.
  • Notify your counselor if you suspect any breach in your security.
  • Please dress appropriately for sessions
  • Please do not use any substances prior to your appointment.
  • Please choose a stationary location with a laptop or larger device (i.e. use of smart phone for video causes more difficulty with communication)
  • Please do not engage in other activities during your appointment (driving, operating machinery, cooking, etc.).
  • Please do not bring weapons of any kind to session.

Additional Technology Recommendations:

  • Password protect your computer, tablet, phone, and any other device with a password that is unique.
  • If you wish to avoid others knowing that you are receiving counseling services, clear your browser’s cache (browsing history), and on your phone or calendar, list your therapist by a name rather that as “counselor or therapist” or list as a “meeting.”
  • Always log out of your sessions.
  • Do not have any software remember your password. Sign in every time.
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone.
  • Do not share your computer when you are logged on to any counseling software.
  • Have all of your devices set to time out requiring you to sign back in after a set idle time.
  • Keep your computer updated.
  • Use a firewall and antivirus program.
  • When online do not login as an administrator.
  • Router / Access Point
    • Only use a secure network for internet access using a WAP2 security key.
    • Use your own administer ID and password (not the default) for your router or access point.
    • Choose a custom SSID name, not the default name.
    • Limit the range of your Wi-Fi by positioning it near the center of your home.