Durriya Meer, a licensed psychologist, is the new director of Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS), Georgetown’s primary mental health agency that helps students overcome difficulties that may interfere with the definition and accomplishment of their educational, personal and career goals.
Meer started her role as CAPS director Jan. 24 following a yearlong search that began in December 2020. The search process focused on finding a candidate whose expertise in the field included work with university age students and who would be interested in enhancing services CAPS offers, according to a university spokesperson.
According to Kathryn Castle, the assistant vice president for Student Health, Meer’s extensive experience in university counseling centers made her the right candidate for the role.
“Dr. Durriya Meer is a thoughtful and empathetic clinician who has spent more than 20 years in university counseling centers,” Castle wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Dr. Meer is inclusive and collaborative in her approach which I see as a marvelous fit with Georgetown University’s values.”
Meer said one of her priorities is to connect with students and understand their experiences.
“I want to hear from them what their experience with CAPS has been; through the grapevine I have heard varying opinions,” Meer wrote to The Hoya. “I aspire to be a bridge between the different stakeholders.”
According to Meer, gathering student input and improving channels of communication are key to improving the services that CAPS offers.
“Without truly hearing what students have to say, I do not believe that there can be positive change,” Meer wrote. “I hope that I can listen to the different stakeholders and carry messages across and between so that there is greater understanding and empathy for the different perspectives.”
Meer specializes in counseling and psychology for college students and has 20 years of experience between her time at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. She previously served as the associate director for the doctoral psychology internship and as a staff psychologist at Johns Hopkins University.
Meer will focus on making all students aware of the scope of CAPS services, according to Castle.
“Dr. Meer will spend more time in the Georgetown University community educating about the services offered at CAPS and listening to the mental health needs of students,” Castle wrote. “She will think creatively about the provision of mental health care on campus to expand the reach of CAPS across all campuses.”
The university also hired six new clinicians across all CAPS sites to provide direct services to students, according to the university spokesperson.
“These new hires have a wide range of clinical expertise, some of which include trauma work, group work, mindfulness and meditation and identity work,” the spokesperson wrote. “They also have extensive experience working with BIPOC communities, international students, immigrant populations, refugees, asylum seekers and sexual assault survivors.”
CAPS announced their spring 2022 counseling groups Jan. 27, including groups for understanding self and others, LGBTQ support, international students, Black Indigenous People of Color, interpersonal mindfulness, coping with loss and trauma recovery.
According to the spokesperson, CAPS services will continue to be provided free of charge this semester, and the university will hire clinical staff as student need arises.
As demand for counseling services rises, Meer commits to maintaining high standards of care for members of the Georgetown community.
“University counseling centers across the nation are seeing unprecedented demand and strained resources, yet I have seen therapists go above and beyond,” Meer wrote. “It is not just the 45-50 minutes that we spend face-to-face with the student, it is everything that goes on behind the scenes as well—the phone calls, the meetings, the check-ins, the consultations.”