The American University Counseling Center has a video on Navigating Referrals to Off-Campus Mental Health Care.
Many services and resources that are not available on campus are readily available in the surrounding community. Examples include:
- formal psychological, psychiatric, or neurological evaluations;
- intensive or extensive outpatient psychotherapy;
- specialized treatment programs such as for alcohol or drug treatment or eating disorders;
- inpatient or day-treatment programs.
If you already know what sort of care or services you need, you are welcome to meet with a Counseling Center clinician simply to arrange a referral. You can also come to speak with a clinician about your personal concerns and then, as a result of your conversation, decide with your clinician that a referral to private care is the best course of action to address your particular concerns.
In either case, your clinician and our case manager can help you locate and connect with off campus resources that are as appropriate, accessible, and affordable as possible. Below are some guidelines to help you with your referral so that you get the maximum benefit from your private care.
- Availability. In some situations, private care can provide you with more immediately available services. For example, if you need an appointment sooner than the next available appointment on-campus, or you need a care-giver who has 24-hour access, or you need several appointments per week, private care is the appropriate resource for you.
- Specialty. The counseling staff at the Counseling Center consists of highly trained professionals, but of course we cannot provide every type of service that students may need. For example, if you require an inpatient or partial-day treatment program, coordinated care for a complex medical/psychological problem, formal assessment/diagnostic services, or specialized services, a referral to private care is necessary.
- Privacy. On-campus and off-campus providers adhere to the same ethical and legal standards of confidentiality with regard to your conversations and records. However, if you are especially sensitive about your privacy, off-campus care affords you the greatest degree of privacy.
ISSUES TO CONSIDER WHEN ARRANGING FOR PRIVATE CARE
It is important that you connect with a provider who can serve your particular needs. In arranging for private care, you should feel free to discuss the following issues with your Counseling Center clinician or with a potential provider:
- Credentials/Services. Is the provider well qualified to work with you on your particular concerns? Does the provider offer services that are appropriately extensive, immediate, or specialized?
- Accessibility. Where is the provider located and how would you get there? Is public transportation or parking available?
- Affordability. What are the provider's fees or charges? Will the provider accept your insurance? If the services are not covered on insurance, or the insurance has limited coverage, what are your payment options? What will the payment arrangements be if you exhaust your insurance benefits
- Personal preferences. With whom would you be most comfortable speaking (therapist gender, someone with a particular cultural or linguistic background, etc.)? How important are these preferences to you?
HOW TO ENSURE THE QUALITY OF YOUR CARE
Although your Counseling Center clinician can help you in your efforts to connect with off-campus care that is appropriate, affordable, and accessible, we do not monitor or guarantee the quality of care from private providers.
If you have any concerns about the quality of care you receive from a private provider, you should first consider bringing up your concerns with that provider.
You can also contact the Counseling Center and make an appointment to meet with a clinician who can listen to your concerns and help you determine your next steps.
Here are some resources for information about the nature of psychotherapy, to help you be an informed and self-reliant consumer:
American Psychological Association: Understanding Psychotherapy and How it Works
American Psychological Association: How to Find a Therapist
American Psychological Association: Resources and Information on Mental Health Insurance Coverage