Dr. Sherry Ceperich, the newest full-time staff psychologist for University of Richmond's Counseling and Psychological Services, will spend much of her time working with sexual assault victims. 

Ceperich, who began her role on Jan. 9, said she would be involved with the Sexual Assault Response Team and Center for Sexual Assault. 

“Dr. Ceperich is an accomplished therapist as well as researcher, and has expertise in sexual trauma, motivational interviewing, threat assessment, and mindfulness, among other strengths,” CAPS Director Dr. Peter LeViness said. “Dr. Ceperich has outstanding interpersonal skills, an excellent ability to collaborate as a team player, a flexible and adaptable style, and a warm, caring and professional demeanor.”

Ceperich had been working at the university in the role of a contracting provider, in which she worked with students part-time. As a staff psychologist, Ceperich will now be working with Richmond students for wellness and therapy assistance full-time.

“The position is an opportunity to become a more involved member of the university, and integrated member of the CAPS staff, ultimately to assist students more,” Ceperich said. 

Since her first high school psychology course, Ceperich has been interested in the field of psychology and counseling.

“One of the great things about being a psychologist is the diversity of roles and positions you can have,” Ceperich, who has had research positions at VCU and UVA and clinical positions at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, said.

In her new role as a full-time CAPS member, Ceperich said she hoped to aid students in ways that would help improve their psychological development.

Ceperich believes that collaboration, through therapy, outreach and wellness groups, will be a beneficial tool for students to learn how to cope with different obstacles, she said.

“It’s gratifying when they are intrinsically motivated to learn and use new skills and insights and move forward in positive ways in their lives despite challenges,” Ceperich said.

CAPS has formed multiple long waitlists in the past when the student demand for counseling services extended beyond the available resources. The addition of a new full-time psychologist could help lessen wait-time for appointments. 

“There is a growing utilization of college counseling services on almost every institution of higher education in the U.S., including UR,” LeViness said. “The biggest driver of this increase is the decreasing stigma about seeking mental health services.”

This past semester, there was no implementation of a waiting list for CAPS because of additional funding provided in order to hire more contractors. 

But LeViness foresees further need for mental health services in the future.

“Based on mental health surveys CAPS has conducted at UR over the past half dozen years or so, I expect the number of students seeking mental health services to continue to increase in the near future,” LeViness said. 

CAPS can work with 800 students per academic year, LeViness said. 

"When and if the demand increases beyond that point, we will likely need to institute a waiting list," LeViness said. "CAPS is also piloting software called Therapist-Assisted Online (TAO), which may eventually enable CAPS to see more students in a given amount of time.”

Contact reporter Sydney Collins at sydney.collins@richmond.edu