Off-Campus Mental Health

CAPS focuses on time-limited counseling services for students, so at times it may be appropriate for students to find the longer-term or specialized treatment they may wish to have.

If you would benefit from longer-term or specialized treatment, we may refer you to a provider in the community.

Even if you are not working with one of our clinicians, we can help you find a qualified professional available in the community.

Finding a provider can be a daunting task! There are so many different aspects to consider and it can be hard to know where and how to start the process. It’s important to know you have options.

When searching for a mental health provider, it is important to consider:

  • What type of treatment do you want? (e.g. Individual therapy, group therapy, medications, long term, short term, etc.)
  • Do you want to use your insurance or do you want to pay out-of-pocket? What can you afford?
  • What qualities do you look for in a therapist? (Warm, caring, straightforward, honest, gentle, etc.)
  • Do you have any preferences in a therapist? (Gender, religious orientation, etc.)
  • How often and how long do you want to be seen?
  • What challenges may complicate your treatment experience? (Previous bad counseling experiences, unreliable transportation, etc.)

To help streamline the process of finding a community mental health provider, CAPS offers an online database of local providers: ThrivingCampus is a search engine of mental health providers and is a resource offered to the campus community.

You can also search for providers on your insurance provider’s website.

There are also several national search engines that can help you find a therapist near you:

  • American Psychological Association •
  • National Association of Social Workers •
  • National Board for Certified Counselors •
  • Psychology Today's Therapist Finder •

Once you identify a provider you should contact them via email or phone to find out if they have any availability.

When you leave them a message it is important you include some basic information:

  • Name, contact information (phone and email) and best time to contact you.
  • Insurance information
  • Your availability (days and time)
  • How did you find out about the provider (website, CMHS referral, etc.)?
  • What do you need treatment for (depression, anxiety, etc.)?
  • What services are you looking for (individual therapy, couples therapy, etc.)?

Other Questions to Ask

  • How soon can you see me? How often can you see me?
  • How much do you charge per session? Do you accept my insurance? What is your cancellation or reschedule policy?
  • How long have you been in practice? What is your success rate?
  • What kind of interventions do you use? What kind of therapy do you do?

Making the first phone call: You might not be able to reach the provider directly by phone on the first try. Leave a message clearly identifying yourself, saying who referred you, and stating your interest in scheduling an appointment.

Make sure to clearly state your name and provide information about when and how you can be reached. You will usually hear back within a day or so, and the first phone conversation will probably be brief.

Verify the provider accepts your health insurance and has availability for new clients. You can also ask questions about areas of specialty, clinical approach, and fees, etc.

The provider will probably ask you a few things about yourself and what you are looking for. Most private practices accept out-of-pocket payments for services. Ask about fees for service, sliding scale fees, prepaid package discounts, and student or family rates. It’s important to be mindful of your budget and know what you can afford.

The First Appointment: If you feel comfortable with the phone conversation, you can set up an initial appointment to meet the clinician. You will likely be given some forms to fill out and sign.

Just like at CAPS, the first meeting with any new mental health care provider often includes a general assessment of why you are seeking help, the nature of your concerns, developmental and family history, and questions to get to know you better and establish a foundation for treatment.

Getting Comfortable with your new provider: Sometimes it feels difficult to make the transition from one therapist to another.

You will have to establish a level of comfort and it may feel like you have to tell your story over again. This may be true, but it can also be an opportunity to revisit your concerns and how you talk about them. Maybe you notice familiar themes recurring or perhaps what you emphasize or bring forward has changed slightly.

In addition, different clinicians ask questions and respond in different ways, and this is often helpful in opening up new ways of understanding and addressing your concerns.

You might feel comfortable with your new clinician right away or it could take a few meetings before you have a sense if this is the right fit for you.

Try to expect that your sessions will feel different and give it some time to see how conversations develop. If you decide that your new clinician is not a good match, it’s fine to try another provider.

You are welcome to contact CAPS for assistance if you need additional help or other suggestions of area resources.

Search for Off-Campus Mental Health Providers