Counseling & Psychological Services

Counseling and Psychological Services, we're here to help

CAPS Services

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides services that empower students to engage in and be successful in a full range of academic, social and cultural endeavors through fostering psychological wellness.

about caps

We know that being a student is filled with many changes and challenges and that, at times, extra support is needed. CAPS works with students to identify problems and to develop solutions for overcoming these challenges. The most common reasons students utilize our services are: anxiety, depression, relationship problems, suicidality, grief, adjusting to a new life situation, substance use, and trauma.

CAPS has a strong commitment to meeting the needs of our diverse students by providing high quality, culturally sensitive services. We strive to create a welcoming environment for all people.

Our staff includes licensed providers who have years of experience in working with the university student population. They are committed to helping students to achieve their personal and academic goals and to enhance their experience while at WCU.

CAPS is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc.

make an appointment

CAPS provides services to currently enrolled WCU students.

To schedule an appointment, call us at 828.227.7469 or stop by our office (225 Bird Building). The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Please note that students are required to make their own appointments.

To begin counseling at CAPS, the first step is to schedule a meeting for an initial consultation appointment.  The purpose of this appointment is to provide an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns with CAPS and to arrive at a mutually agreeable course of action to address your concerns.  You can schedule a consultation appointment by calling 828.227.7469.  Once you have an appointment scheduled, please plan to arrive at least 25 minutes early to complete paperwork. The actual consultation appointment typically lasts 20 to 30 minutes.

Based on this meeting, you and the counselor may agree that ongoing group or individual counseling would best suit your needs. If this is the case, the counselor will gather the necessary information from you so that you can be assigned to meet with a staff counselor on an ongoing basis. The length of time from the initial consultation to pairing with counseling is determined by two main factors:  Your preferences regarding characteristics of your counselor or group; and, availability of open slots for ongoing counseling.  For the second half of the fall or spring semesters, the wait between these appointments can lengthen as the demand for services increases.  We do all we can to make your wait for assignment as short as possible

counseling services


Your individual counselor will spend some time getting to know you and helping you to establish appropriate goals for counseling. You and your counselor will discuss how often you will meet.


Research shows that group therapy is the most effective treatment for many of the concerns college students face. CAPS offers a variety of groups each semester to meet these needs.

Here is what students say about our groups:

“ DO IT! Or at least try it because it is really helpful and really becomes a comfortable space to talk about things you wouldn’t talk about with people in your everyday life.” 

“It is a great way to connect with people who understand what you are going through.”




How often do I see my counselor?

You and your counselor will discuss your treatment and how frequently you will have sessions. It is common for students to meet with a counselor weekly at first, but as therapy progresses you will likely meet every other week or even once a month.  If your concerns are such that need very long term treatment or you need to be seen more than once a week, you may be referred to a therapist in the community.

What if I have to reschedule?

Please call the front desk (828-227-7469) as soon as you know you are unable to make your appointment. We do ask for at least 24 hours notice to change an appointment, but we know that this is not always possible. Typically, students are not able to be rescheduled within the next 5 business days and during times of high demand for CAPS’ services, you may have to wait longer for the next appointment.

Who is eligible for services?

Currently enrolled students who have paid the Health Fee are eligible for services at CAPS. Faculty and staff who are interested in counseling have access to services through the WCU Employee Assistance Program. For additional information, please contact Human Resources (828.227.7218) or CAPS (828-227-7469)

What will I be charged for services?

CAPS does not charge for their services for enrolled students who have paid the student health fee.  If you see the psychiatric provider at CAPS, your sessions are charged to your insurance and so you will be responsible for any costs related to your deductible or co-payment. 

What if I am concerned about someone else?

CAPS provides consultation to concerned parents, students, or faculty/staff. CAPS will typically not reach out to a student based on this type of consultation, however CAPS staff will guide you in managing the situation. Additionally, you may choose to complete a Student Concern Response Team (SCRT) report.  The SCRT team is charged with ensuring, to the extent possible, coordinated efforts to provide services of University Departments are made available to the involved student(s). The report template is available at

What if I do not like my counselor?

We understand that not all counselors are a fit for you. If you find that you are a not a good fit with your counselor, we ask that you bring this up in your session. Usually, this will help you and your counselor better understand each other and enhance your work together. However, if that conversation does not resolve your concern, you can contact the CAPS office and leave a message about switching counselors. At this point, a CAPS Administrator will reach out to you to resolve the situation.

Do you provide testing services?

CAPS does provide limited psychological assessment for ongoing clients to inform and enhance treatment. CAPS does not provide any ADHD testing or other testing necessary for determining accommodations. Students may seek these services through the McKee Psychology Clinic (828.227.2473).

Do you provide documentation for accommodations?

CAPS will only verify diagnoses for ongoing clients who are seeking accommodations through the Office of Accessibility Resources (828.227.3886).  However, CAPS does not provide letters of support for emotional support animals.

What if I am in crisis?

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency during business hours, come to CAPS (225 Bird Building).

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency after business hours, call University Police at 828-227-8911 and ask to speak to the Crisis Counselor.

Other emergency resources:

Appalachian Community Resources - 888.315.2880

REACH (Sexual Violence Resources) - 828.369.5544

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800.273.8255

Trevor Project (LGBTQ Crisis support) - 866.488.7386

psychiatric services

Your CAPS counselor may refer you to the consulting psychiatric provider at CAPS for a medication consultation. The provider’s services are billed to the student’s insurance. To see the provider, you must be a current client at CAPS. 


training & internship programs

CAPS offers university counseling center training positions at both the master's and doctoral level. In addition to becoming strong mental health generalists in the provision of individual counseling services, trainees have the opportunity to participate in group counseling, inter-disciplinary collaboration, outreach, consultation, campus programs and related projects within the university community. 



Services for biltmore park students

Counseling services for Biltmore Park students are offered in room 341 at Biltmore Park by CAPS staff Mondays and every third Tuesday when classes are in session. Biltmore Park students can also access services on the Cullowhee campus.  For an appointment at either location, call 828.227.7469.

Workshops & Resources

CAPS’ outreach programs are designed to promote prevention, awareness and skill development among the Catamount community. Through our outreach programming and workshops, CAPS connects to students, faculty and staff as they partner with us in reducing stigma around mental health concerns. Our goal with outreach is that participants will develop new knowledge and tools to help them remove barriers to their success at WCU.

Catamounts For Recovery (CFR)  encourages students in recovery to take ownership of their personal and intellectual development and be accountable to themselves, each other and the larger community.  CFR provides resources to help students strengthen life skills including effective communication, appreciation and respect for diversity, wellness, creative problem solving and critical thinking.  In addition, students learn how to use their personal experiences to talk with their peers about what recovery means to them.  CFR offers trainings, seminars, resources and fun sober activities that support both ongoing recovery and academic achievement.  


Meet our Staff

2017 CAPS Counseling Staff


We represent the fields of psychology, counseling, social work, and psychiatry. We train interns in counseling, clinical psychology, and related counseling programs.

Our primary commitment is to enhance the psychological growth, emotional well being, and learning potential of students.

CAPS Staff

Our permanent staff is licensed and/or certified mental health professionals. However, all members of our counseling team (including graduate interns) are trained to address a wide range of presenting concerns. We each have our own unique interests and have developed counseling styles that best enable us to connect with students in a personalized way that aims to be most helpful.

kimberly s. gorman, ph.d, hsp-p, director / psychologist

Kim Gorman

Dr. Gorman is a licensed psychologist and earned her Master's and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky. Kim has a special interest in working with women's issues and, specifically, eating disorders, however has experience working with clients with a variety of mental health issues. Additionally, she has experience working in behavioral medicine. She works from a feminist, interpersonal approach in therapy. Another interest for her is in the area of training and professional development. She has been involved in training of masters and doctoral level students for nearly two decades. Personally, she enjoys spending time with her husband sitting on their porch, reading a book and looking at the mountains. She also enjoys being active and watching her beloved basketball team in action.

m. Jay Manalo, ph.d, hsp-p, ncc, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR / Training director / psychologist

Jay Manalo

Dr. Manalo is a licensed psychologist and obtained his M.Ed. in School Counseling and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, both from The University of Georgia.  He conducted his doctoral internship at WCU’s CAPS and his postdoctoral training and subsequent work experiences in private practice settings in Georgia prior to returning to WCU.  His counseling interests include depression, anxiety, stress, life transitions, AD/HD, LGBT issues, multicultural psychology, social skills issues, and developmental disabilities.  His approach to counseling is primarily Person-Centered integrated with aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.  He also enjoys providing supervision and training for emerging mental health professionals.  He completed Safe Space/Safe Zone training at UGA and WCU and is also a National Certified Counselor.  Outside of work, Jay enjoys whitewater kayaking and is a Wilderness First Responder.  He also enjoys spending time with his family, his dogs, and other loved ones.

betsy aspinwall, psy.d, hsp-p, assistant Director / psychologist

Betsy Aspinwall

Dr. Aspinwall is a licensed psychologist, earned her Master's and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Indianapolis. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Appalachian State University prior to coming to WCU. Betsy is experienced in working with individuals, couples, and groups, and enjoys working with diverse students and presenting concerns. She works with a variety of therapeutic issues including; eating disorders, depression, identity concerns, grief, alcohol and substance use, suicide, LGBT issues, anxiety, trauma, and adjustment/transitions. Betsy utilizes a collaborative person-centered approach to therapy while allowing the client to guide the therapeutic process. Outside of the office she enjoys cooking and baking, spending time with loved ones, and exploring the mountains with her dogs.


Paula Demonet

Paula has worked with individuals and groups in a variety of settings. She utilizes a person centered approach to counseling with the goal of improving the lives of those she serves.  She uses therapies such as Person Centered Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. She holds a B.S. degree in Recreational Therapy and a M.S. degree in Community Counseling from Western Carolina University. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of North Carolina and Certificated by the National Board of Certified Counselors. Paula has worked as mental health therapist and supervisor for local not for profit and state agencies gaining experience working with clients with a variety of mental health issues. Paula has a talent for utilizing experiential modalities to bring about learning opportunities for clients. When not working Paula enjoys volunteering her time to work with youth in her community. She enjoys taking care of her four children and sharing the wonders of the outdoors with them and her husband.

susannah kuppers, msw, lcsw

Susannah Kuppers


Ms. Kuppers completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Western Carolina University in 2014 and obtained full LCSW licensure in 2016.  She is currently working towards licensure as a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. Through work with local community mental health and victim advocacy organizations, she has experience working with a variety of issues include interpersonal violence, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and trauma. Susannah uses a person centered approach to counseling, incorporating therapies including Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Outside of work, Susannah enjoys time outdoors, gardening, cooking and spending time with family.  

arika morrison, ms, lpcs, counselor / sexual & interpersonal violence care coordinator

Arika Morrison

Ms. Morrison is a licensed professional counselor and completed her Master's Degree in Counseling with a specialty in College Student Personnel from Shippensburg University in 2002. She completed her counseling license in 2004. Arika has experience working with a variety of counseling issues including: Relationships, Sexual Abuse, Trauma, Disordered Eating, Body Image, Self-Esteem and Women’s Issues. Arika uses a humanistic approach blended with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. She also really enjoys working with SoulCollage®. Outside of the office, Arika cherishes her time with her husband and their dog traveling through the mountains or to the coast.

Mike unger, psy.d, psychologist

Mike Unger


Dr. Unger is a psychologist and obtained his M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College-Columbia University and his Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his doctoral internship and postdoctoral residency at the Texas State University Counseling Center. Mike has many years of experience providing personal, career, academic and crisis counseling to college students. The foundation of his counseling approach is client centered while always recognizing the importance of multicultural aspects of client’s identities. His counseling interventions are often guided by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and self-compassion. Mike has professional training in mindfulness-based stress reduction and is also a yoga instructor. One of his strongest professional interests is facilitating mindfulness groups for college students. He is also passionate about providing counseling services to   underrepresented groups and is the counseling center liaison to international students. Outside of work, Mike enjoys exploring the amazing western North Carolina parks and mountains. He also enjoys Asheville’s vibrant live music and restaurant scene. Originally from New York, Mike stays in touch with family and friends in the northeast as much as possible. 

christy newell wyatt, msw, lcsw, lcas, csi, Counselor / substance use specialist

Christy Wyatt

Ms. Wyatt is our Substance Use Specialist and completed her Master's Degree in Social Work from Walla Walla College and then earned her Social Work  licensure in 2007.  She has also gained her license as a Clinical Addictions Specialist in 2012.  Christy has experience working with diverse populations with a variety of issues from: depression, Bipolar, anxiety, substance abuse/addiction, adjustment, suicide, sexual abuse and trauma.  She uses therapies such as Person Centered Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.   When not counseling, Christy enjoys spending time with her husband reading, traveling, run/walking ½ marathons as well as enjoying the outdoors with their 2 dogs and horse.

tamar bat el, ma, psychology intern

Tamar Bat El


Ms. Bat El is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology with a Depth Psychology emphasis at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her hometown is in Nanaimo, BC; although she has also lived and worked in Victoria, BC on beautiful Vancouver Island in Western Canada. Tamar is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and has held a permanent position with the government health authority, Island Health, for over 5 years. She grew up in Montreal, QC; where she completed her BA in Psychology with Specialization and an MA in Counselling and Creative Arts Therapies at Concordia University.  She speaks three languages fluently and is passionate about helping people in a variety of ways. Her fields of interest, research, and clinical experience include working with clients of diverse ages and backgrounds in both inpatient and outpatient settings, who have experienced: Trauma and PTSD, Sexual and Interpersonal Violence, Eating Disorders and Addictions, Psychiatric and Concurrent Disorders, and Immigration Re-Settlement concerns. Tamar’s theoretical approach is primarily depth-centered, with an emphasis on incorporating a Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic theoretical framework for case conceptualization and treatment, and an integration of Insight-Oriented techniques and interventions.  She has also acquired experience and training in CBT, DBT, Solution-Focused Counselling, Motivational Interviewing, Feminist Theory, and Somatic approaches to treating trauma. Tamar is a humanitarian at heart, and loves exploring new places and undertaking new adventures. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with family and spending time at home with her dog and friends. 

kayla byrd, bs, psychology trainee

Kayla Byrd


Ms. Byrd received her undergraduate degree in psychology from WCU and is currently a second year graduate student in the clinical psychology program at WCU.  She is particularly interested in the areas of personality, delinquency, and substance use in the adolescent and young adult populations. Kayla favors the person-centered approach for therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Outside of the office, she enjoys watching and playing sports, being outdoors in the mountains, on the beach, or on the lake, and travelling.  

Manj burdekar, MED, psychology intern

Manj Burdekar



Mr. Burdekar received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology from Franklin Pierce University. He received his Master’s Degree and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Through his practicum experiences, Manj has worked with individuals from diverse backgrounds providing individual and group therapy, as well as campus outreach. His counseling interests include depression, anxiety, as well as identity and relationship issues. Additionally, he is also interested in working with individuals with physical and emotional pain, multiculturalism and diversity especially cultural identity. Manj’s approach to counseling is primarily person centered integrated with psychodynamic therapy. In his free time he enjoys watching sports, cooking, travelling and enjoying quality time with family and friends.

tari cox, b.A., Psychology trainee

Tari Cox


Ms. Cox received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Winston-Salem State University and  is currently in her second year in the Clinical Psychology Master’s program at WCU. Tari’s research interests involve aspect of cross-cultural and health psychology. Specifically, she is interested in the effects of trauma and stress on physiological processes (i.e., sleep health) of minority individuals. She is also interested in addressing social justice issues as a potential source of these stressors and its effects on social adjustment. Tari favors person-centered and CBT therapeutic frameworks. In her free time she enjoys reading, dancing, attending church and catching up on new Netflix Series. 

savannah marino, BS, Counseling trainee

Savannah Marino


Ms. Marino received a double major in History and Psychology from WCU in May 2016. Currently, she is a second-year graduate student in the Master’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. She is particularly interested in the areas of trauma counseling and working with racial/ethnic minority populations to promote mental health care. Savannah favors the person-centered approach, feminist theory, and cognitive behavioral approaches in therapy. Outside of the office, she enjoys relaxing with friends and family, hiking in the beautiful mountains, and traveling. 

sonaly silva, M.A., psychology intern

Sonaly Silva


Ms. Silva earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Missouri University of Science & Technology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). She is currently a doctoral candidate pursuing her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology from TCSPP. Sonaly’s research interests relate to integrative care, health psychology, international psychology, cross-cultural psychology, and developmental disabilities. Sonaly has interests working with international students (acculturation issues), grief and loss issues, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, minority issues, and relational work. Her prior clinical work has been focused in community mental health, as well behavioral medicine. Her approach to counseling is primarily cognitive behavioral therapy integrated with aspects of person-centered therapy. She is also a certified Triple P Positive Parenting therapist, and has experience providing parent training and consultation sessions for parents who have newly diagnosed children with developmental disabilities. Furthermore, Sonaly has enjoyed presenting at several national and international conferences, and has presented on topics related to diversity issues, global health and wellness, intimate partner violence, alternative sexualities and immigration issues. Outside of work, Sonaly enjoys traveling and exploring the mountains, cooking, singing, and spending time with her family, friends and other loved ones. 

debbye mcgee, administrative assistant

Debbye McGee

Ms. McGee is originally from Grand Junction, Colorado.  She has lived in the area for 20 years.  She has two daughters Crystal and Lavender Sky.  Debbye also has two granddaughters Jazmine and Jewell Sky who are both nine years old.  She loves photography, traveling and making jewelry.  In her spare time she enjoys being one with nature, meditation, aromatherapy and practicing Mindful Living.

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