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Clinicians at CAPS can help you get connected with one of the many excellent therapists and psychiatrists who provide mental health care in the community surrounding Stanford.

If You Are Covered Under Cardinal Care

Schedule a phone assessment appointment by using your Vaden Portal or calling 650-723-3785. During this appointment, let the clinician know that you are interested in finding a therapist or psychiatrist off campus and with whom you can work long term. Our phone assessment clinicians can help match your needs within our network of licensed mental health providers working in the community. You can also find additional Cardinal Care providers here: Cardinal Care providers link.

Cardinal Care will cover visits with therapists and psychiatrists within the MHN network. There is a $25 copay for services. There is no deductible, no required preauthorization, and no limit on number of sessions. You do not need a referral from Vaden to see a provider, you may call on your own and schedule an appointment.

Click below for specific instructions detailing how to:

Contact therapists or psychiatrists to request an appointment, select a provider who you feel is the best fit for you: Calling Therapists/Psychiatrists (PDF)

If You Are Covered Under a Different Insurance Plan

This is a general guideline for students with non-Cardinal Care insurance who need assistance understanding their mental health benefits and obtaining referrals. Please note, each insurance company has its own system in place, but the procedure to obtaining referrals is common to many insurance plans.

● Have your insurance card ready. If your physical card is with a family member in another city, ask the person who has your card to scan and email BOTH sides of the card to you. If there is no physical copy of your card, you may be able to log into your health insurance website to get information needed to access your benefits (such as your Member ID number).

● Look on your insurance card and locate “mental health benefits” phone number. If this number is not available, look for a “member services” phone number. If the medical benefits are issued through one company, do not assume the mental health benefits will be administered through the same company. For example, Health Net has mental health benefits contracted through a different company called Mental Health Networks (MHN).

● Follow the automated prompts for “members” and then “obtaining benefit information.” You also may be able to say “speak with a representative” if asked for a voice prompt. Once you are speaking with a live operator, let them know you would like your “mental health benefits information.” You may be asked to provide your name, your Member ID, your date of birth, and the address or phone number of the primary insurance holder (if you are on your parent/guardian’s insurance, you will likely need to provide their address rather than your current address at Stanford).

Click below for specific instructions detailing how to:

Contact your insurance, access and understanding benefits information: Calling to clarify your insurance coverage for mental health services (PDF)

Contact therapists or psychiatrists to request an appointment, select a provider who you feel is the best fit for you: Calling Therapists/Psychiatrists (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)

Questions to Ask About Benefits and Accessing In-Network Providers

Determining Mental Health Benefits

● Is there an in-network benefit vs. out of network benefit on the plan? If so, request an explanation.

● Is there a deductible (amount of money you will need to pay out of pocket before insurance will start to pay) that will need to be met by the individual or the family before the mental health      benefits can be utilized? If so, what is it?

● What is the co-pay or co-insurance?

● Are there any limits on the number of sessions the insurance will cover?

● What is the annual out-of-pocket maximum?

● What date does the calendar year begin?

● Are there any other restrictions you should be aware of?

Obtaining Referrals / Finding In-Network Providers

Ask the operator to describe to you how to search for in-network clinicians online. They may offer to send you a list of clinicians, but conducting your own search allows you to change your search criteria (searching by distance from campus, gender of therapist, etc.) without needing to call back every time you want to search. Feel free to have the operator send you a list AND have them walk you through your own search as well. Inform the operator about the type of mental health provider you are seeking. (For example, “I’d like a therapist who treats anxiety and insomnia.”) If it is important to you that the therapist be a specific gender or ethnicity, or that they specialize in sexual orientation or gender identity, let the operator know. (For example, “I’d like an Asian-American female therapist who understands transgender issues and specializes in anxiety.”)

If possible, try to search for providers while the operator is on the phone. Some search engines require you to select a specific type of insurance plan or enter an Employer ID. The operator can assist you in entering the appropriate information and completing your search. Search for clinicians near the 94306 zip code and let the operator know how many miles you are willing to travel to see the clinician. (You may search for a Psychiatrist if you need medication, or for Psychologists, LCSWs, LPCCs, and MFTs if you are seeking therapy only. You can also look for Psychiatrists who provide both medication management and therapy.)

If You Do Not Have Cardinal Care and Need Assistance Navigating Your Benefits

CAPS has Referral Coordination services available to students who do not have Cardinal Care and are seeking a therapist or psychiatrist outside of CAPS. While there is no back door to connect with services faster, Referral Coordination can help students get the information they need to connect themselves with resources. If you think you may benefit from referral assistance, call 650-723-3785 or go online to your Vaden Portal to schedule a CAPS phone assessment. During your phone assessment you will speak with a CAPS clinician. Let them know about your needs and your interest in referrals off campus and they can help you connect with the most appropriate resources, including Referral Coordination or other services.

Find a Therapist/Psychiatrist in the Community

You may use this guide Calling Therapists/Psychiatrists (PDF) for assistance in directly contacting therapists and psychiatrists and ask questions to determine goodness of fit. Keep in mind that online review sites may contain information that is inaccurate or biased, and they may not be the best sources of information that will help you determine if a clinician is a good fit for you. It is recommended that you use information that a clinician has provided about their own practice (such as on their website) as well as your own judgement and comfort when you speak to them directly.

The following websites may be helpful resources in gathering additional information about therapists or psychiatrists in the community:



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 Black Lives Matter activists and community)

Therapists of Color Bay Area

African American Therapists Directory

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network


Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) Kink-Aware Professionals Directory

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

* Please note that CAPS does not endorse or monitor information contained in the links above, and they are provided solely as an additional outside resource.

When you call clinicians in private practice, you are likely to reach a voicemail. Be prepared to leave them a message including your name, the fact that you are a Stanford student, the name of your insurance, and a good callback number (say this twice, slowly and clearly). Make sure the voicemail on your phone is set up and has space to receive new messages.

You can call and leave messages for several providers in one sitting (rather than calling just one clinician). 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 to schedule an appointment?”

If You Are Interested in Services at Stanford Department of Psychiatry

The Stanford Department of Psychiatry provides services separate from CAPS and Vaden, through Stanford Hospital rather than through Stanford University. They provide therapy, medication management, and several specialty mental health services. Click here for a full list of their outpatient services. You can also find instructions on their website for additional information on accessing these services.

If you are currently being seen at CAPS, you will need a referral for services at the Stanford Department of Psychiatry. If you are not currently being seen at CAPS, you can call and self-refer. Having a referral from CAPS will not have any significant impact on how quickly you are able to access services.

If You Are Seeking Low-cost or Sliding Scale Therapy Options

The following clinics operate on a sliding scale and can set a fee based on your income and ability to pay:

Gronowski Center Clinics

Gronowski Center Fee Schedule

Family and Children’s Services

Mental Research Institute (MRI)

Kara (Grief Support Services)

Community Health Awareness Council

If You Are Seeking Financial Support from Stanford to Help with the Cost of Services

Undergraduate Students:

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 Diversity and First Gen Office (D-Gen). Fill out the Opportunity Fund application and meet with a D-Gen advisor.

If neither of these options are sufficient, you may also work with your Residence Dean to see if you are eligible for further assistance through the Dean of Students office.

Graduate Students:

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 ask a GLO Dean if you are unsure how to meet with your department) to determine eligibility. (Contact information for the GLO Deans can be found here.)

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.Clinicians at CAPS can help you get connected with one of the many excellent therapists and psychiatrists who provide mental health care in the community surrounding Stanford.