Avery Cook Named Director of CAPS

March 3, 2023

Following a national search conducted by the search firm Keeling and Associates, Avery Cook, LCSW MSW has been named Director of UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Cook has been with CAPS since 2006 serving in various clinical and leadership roles including Associate Director and Clinical Coordinator. They have served as Interim Director since 2021 following the retirement of the previous CAPS Director, Dr. Allen O’Barr. 

“Avery Cook is a talented leader and practitioner who emerged from our national search as the clear choice to guide our CAPS team and our university’s approach to supporting student mental health.  We look forward to seeing our CAPS resources continue to strengthen under their leadership,” states Amy Johnson, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. 

Cook holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Davidson College and a Master of Social Work degree from the UNC School of Social Work. Cook also attended Duke University Divinity School as an Aldersgate Scholar. They are a member of both the National and North Carolina Associations of Social Work and have served in various capacities within the Orange County and UNC mental health communities. Cook currently volunteers as a leader of Bad Believer Inc, a national non-profit organization providing mental health support and resources to LGBTQ+ individuals for treatment of spiritual trauma. 

During their time as interim director, Cook prioritized immediate access for students in need, a focus that will continue in their permanent role. Cook commented, “It’s important to us that our students know they can access counseling resources when and where they need them: there’s no wait for students to be seen for initial appointments and walk-in opportunities are available every day. Students can connect with a mental health professional through CAPS 24/7 and with the addition of telehealth services, we also provide students brief therapy support on nights and weekends.”  

Looking ahead, Cook has big plans, saying, “I hope to continue to grow and expand our innovative programs such as the Multicultural Health Program and our embedded counselor program, in addition to continuing to find ways to increase access and decrease stigma for students in need of care.”  

UNC CAPS has more than 17,000 annual visits inclusive of both psychiatry and psychotherapy.  Services include brief therapy, group therapy, medication management, referral coordination, case management, crisis services, a Multicultural Health Program, and an Embedded Counselor Program within a number of graduate and professional schools. CAPS is a department of UNC Student Affairs and is organizationally structured within Campus Health. 

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