Options for Care Outside of CAPS
Clinicians at CAPS can help you get connected with some of the many excellent therapists and psychiatrists who provide mental health care in the community surrounding Stanford.
- Who is licensed to provide therapy?
It is important to choose a provider who is licensed to provide therapy or medication. Licensed providers agree to abide by a professional code of ethics, are overseen by a practice board, and must meet specific levels of education and testing to maintain their licenses.
Providers with the following types of titles/licenses are able to provide individual therapy:
- Psychologist (PhD, PsyD)
- Clinical Social Workers (MSW, LCSW)
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)
- Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCC)
Only Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are able to prescribe medication. Most therapists can refer you for medication evaluation and management when indicated. Some Psychiatrists provide both therapy and medication management.
- Psychiatrists (MD)- these providers are able to prescribe medication
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)- these providers are able to prescribe medication
- How do I use my insurance for therapy?
- I have Cardinal Care Insurance
Managed Health Network (MHN) covers the mental health portion of Cardinal Care. Mental health services are covered with a $25 copay for visits if you see an in-network provider. There is no reimbursement for out-of-network providers. You do not need a referral to see a therapist or psychiatrist.
Most students find it easiest to use web-based search tools provided on this site to find a local therapist who accepts MHN. You can enter “MHN” as the insurance in any of the web search tools. For local searches, The Shrink Space (TSS) has partnered with CAPS to build up the MHN provider base. On the TSS site you can get detailed info about providers and send messages directly to them.
MHN Referrals and Support line (1.800.327.4103) provides direct assistance with referrals in your local zip code. If you contact MHN directly using the support line, please complete the online contact form here to give us feedback on your experience. We want to be sure you are receiving the referrals you need.
If you obtain a list directly from MHN, we recommend checking out this Decoding Mental Health Provider List –this will help you reduce confusion as you review lists of in-network providers and decide whom to call for an appointment.
- I have a different insurance
Please note, each insurance company has its own system in place, but the procedure to obtaining referrals is common to many insurance plans. If you are not sure what benefits you have under your plan, we have made some guidelines to help you get that information.
If you already know your benefits and are seeking providers who take your insurance, you can search The Shrink Space as well as other sites under Options for Care Outside of CAPS, to find local providers who accept your Insurance.
Click below for specific instructions detailing how to:
- Contact your insurance, understand your benefits: Calling to clarify your insurance coverage for mental health services (PDF)
- Navigate your insurance if you have a plan through Kaiser Permanente (PDF)
- Navigate your insurance if you have a plan through United Healthcare / United Behavioral Health / Optum (PDF)
- Navigate your insurance if you have a plan through Medi-Cal or Medicaid (PDF)
You may use this Decoding Mental Health Provider Lists (PDF) guide – link if you are looking for providers in the San Francisco Bay Area- this will help you avoid a lot of confusion related to large clinics.
- I Would Like Additional Assistance Navigating My Mental Health Benefits
Students with Cardinal Care and other insurances can get referral assistance at the time of their initial CAPS Connects appointment. CAPS also has personal Referral Coordination services available to students who do not have Cardinal Care and could benefit from more in-depth personal consultation to find a therapist or psychiatrist outside of CAPS.
Referral Coordination services can help students get the information they need to connect with resources. If you think you may benefit from referral assistance, call 650-723-3785 for a CAPS Connects visit. Let the CAPS Connects provider know about your needs and your interest in referrals off campus.
- I have Cardinal Care Insurance
- I want search tools to find a therapist or psychiatrist
Please note that CAPS does not endorse or monitor information contained in the links below, and they are provided solely as an additional outside resource.
- The Shrink Space
- Psychology Today
- Open Path Psychotherapy Collective (sliding scale $30 - $50 for individual counseling, $30 - $80 for couples and family counseling)
- Healing for Activists (low-fee or free therapy for activists and community)
- Therapy For Black Girls
- Therapy For Black Men
- Inclusive Therapists
- African American Therapists Directory
- National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Kink and Polyamory Aware Professionals Directory (KAP)
- Bay Area Open Minds (sexual and gender diversity)
- Polyamory-Friendly Professionals Directory
- American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists
- EMDR International Association Member Search
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
- Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
- Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
- National Eating Disorders Association
- International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals
The Stanford Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences provides services outside of CAPS and Vaden Health Services. Call 650.498.9111 and share that you are a Stanford student self-referring to the Department.
If you are currently seeing a CAPS therapist, they can make the referral for you to the specific clinic you need.
- I Am Seeking Low-cost or Sliding Scale Therapy Options
- Gronowski Center- multiple specialties for affirmative gender identity care, LGBTQ+ specialty, trauma treatment, spanish-speaking services, and mind-body oriented treatment
- Family and Children’s Services
- Kara (Grief Support Services)
- Community Health Awareness Council
- Healing for Activists (low-fee or free therapy for activists and community)
- I Am Seeking Financial Support to Help with the Cost of Mental Health Services
- If you are currently enrolled and registered for classes, fill out the “medical/dental expense form” for assistance from the Financial Aid Office and meet with a Financial Aid Advisor.
- If you are low income or first generation, and are not registered in classes, or if you are enrolled in classes but Financial Aid options you received were not sufficient to cover medical expenses, you can apply for funds through the FLI Office (First gen and/or low income- FLI). Fill out the Opportunity Fund application and meet with a FLI advisor.
- If neither of these options are sufficient, you may also work with your Residence Director to see if you are eligible for further assistance through the Dean of Students office.
- There may be general financial support available through graduate departments to assist you in getting health insurance, Summer Access Fee, or other medical coverage expenses. You can meet with your department, or, if you want more support and information first, meet with a Graduate Life Office (GLO) Dean. GLO Deans are happy to support Graduate students.
- If your department is unable to provide sufficient assistance with your medical expenses, you can apply for Emergency Grant in Aid. Graduate Life Office (GLO) Deans can assist with this application. There is also a “Graduate Student Aid Fund” available through the Financial Aid Office.
- FLI office (first Gen and/or Low income- FLI) is for Graduate students too- connect with them to learn more- they can assist FLI Grad students with Grant in Aid and other programs.
LGBTQ+ students- In addition to the above resources, the QT fund is a grant program offered regularly through Queer Student Resources and Weiland- you can apply when the application cycles are open, for additional support of any kind, including mental health costs.
- Contacting therapists/psychiatrists- a how to guide
However, you may still need to use the phone to connect with the therapist to confirm they meet your requirements (insurance they accept, specialties they work with, experience with issues you want to address, etc) and some therapists decline to use email for confidentiality or other reasons.
If you use the phone for contact, know that most mental health clinicians do not have an administrative staff answering phones, so you may need to leave a voicemail and be prepared to answer a return call.
It is best to select a minimum of 3-5 providers, and reach out to all of them in one sitting, as it is common for practices to be full or holding a wait list- the more providers you contact, the better chance to link with a therapist and an appointment time that works for you!
How-To Guide: Connecting with Therapists/Psychiatrists over the phone or email
For any phone call, expect to get confidential voicemail and to leave a voicemail. In your first communication with a provider, provide this information on the voicemail, or in the email message:
- your name
- Your identity as a Stanford student
- If you received their name from someone, tell them who referred you (eg: Stanford CAPS or the name of your CAPS therapist)
- If you plan to use insurance, share your insurance name (eg: Cardinal Care student health insurance through MHN, Anthem Blue Cross, United, etc.) and ask if they are currently accepting new clients with your insurance plan.
- You preference for follow up (you can give both options for phone and email, but let them know if one is best- phone or email)
- Your phone number and what times/days are best to contact you directly. Let them know it is okay for them to leave a voicemail on your phone.
- Your email address and that it is OK for them to contact you and on email if they are willing to use email. (some therapists and MDs will not use email)
- Request that they contact you to let you know either way, if they have an opening or if they are full.
- Make sure that your phone has voicemail set up and the voicemail box is not full.
- Answer calls that come in, even if they are “unknown” number, to avoid missing the call-backs from therapists
- Check your spam or “other” box in your email to prevent missing responses or reach-outs from therapists via email
- Don’t hesitate to send a follow up message or call if you do not hear back in 48 hours.
How to interview and choose:
You may find it helpful to spend a couple of minutes on the phone with several clinicians to get a sense of who you feel a connection with.
You may also choose to meet with a couple of different clinicians, then decide who you feel most comfortable with. It is okay to talk with or meet with a couple of different people, then make a decision about whom you would like to continue with. You are welcome to tell the providers you are doing this.
For example, “I am talking with a couple of therapists to get a feel for who might be the best fit for me. I’d like to talk with you for a couple of minutes about how we might work together. If this feels like the best fit, could I call you back or email you to schedule an appointment?”
If you talk with or meet with a couple of therapists, you may find it helpful to ask about the following when you are trying to get a sense of who might be a good fit:
- Tell them a little about how you are feeling and what you are struggling with. Ask how they might help someone with your concerns. What experience do they have helping someone with the types of problems you are experiencing?
- Could they describe their approach to treatment?
- What are their specialties?
- What hours are they available to see you?
- Any other questions you have for them
- What if I am studying abroad/internationally, or living out of state?
Mental Health Care Away from Campus
If you will be away from campus for summer break, a leave of absence, study abroad, or other reasons, get a head start in connecting to mental health services while you are away.
In the US:
Urgent Mental Health Needs In the United States
For urgent medical or mental health crises while you are in the U.S., call 9.1.1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Non-urgent care in the US for students
In an effort to increase mental health resources for Stanford students this year, CAPS is offering an additional therapy option for students via a new, one-year pilot program called WPO. Through this program, students can receive up to 5 free virtual therapy sessions (or in-person sessions if wanted and available) with a therapist, paid for by CAPS. WPO clinicians can also provide single-session therapy right at the time of your call. To access this new therapy service, call:
1.866.212.6113 (enrolled Stanford students currently located in the U.S.)
+1 984.239.2309 (enrolled Stanford students currently located outside of the U.S.)
- Use search tools to find local provider
If you know your insurance and want expand your search, and independently review and locate providers in the area you will be living, you can use the search tools below to search by state (use \the zip code where you will live) and by insurance, as well as therapist identities and specialties.
- Contact your insurance provider for referrals
You can contact your insurance directly for available therapists and help connecting. Call the customer or patient support line for your plan, and ask for referrals in the zip code where you will be living. You can also share specialties and identities you need and they can assist you in obtaining names.
For Urgent Mental Health Needs While Abroad
For students who are abroad for university programs, urgent support is available through International SOS (or ISOS for short). Students or any person supporting the student can call ISOS directly at +1 215.942.8226 for immediate consultation and help.
If you are abroad in a Stanford affiliated program, and seeking care for mental needs, you can also call ISOS for consultation.
Nonurgent Mental Health Services while Abroad
For Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP)
Many BOSP Stanford study abroad programs have contracted with local mental health resources recruited specifically to serve students abroad in some BOSP programs. Talk with BOSP prior to your overseas studies about what resources are available in the place you will be visiting and how to best get connected.
For students with Cardinal Care who want therapy while abroad for extended time:
If there is a therapist you want to see overseas, and you have Cardinal Care, you are eligible for reimbursement through your Tier 2 benefits. Additional information can be found in the Student Health Matters guide (which can be found online at https://vaden.stanford.edu/).
Please use the International Mental Health Using Cardinal Care tip sheet for instructions on using your Cardinal Care mental health benefits while overseas.