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Referral Guidelines for Distance Learners

Because of the sensitive quality of the therapy relationship and the importance of having a face-to-face therapeutic interaction, the SCC does not provide therapy services to students via phone, e-mail, or internet. For students who are not physically located in Lubbock, Texas, the following guidelines may be useful in finding therapy services that will meet your needs.

If you are in immediate crisis, please call 911.

Do You Have Insurance Coverage? If so, you will need to find out if your policy includes mental health coverage (sometimes referred to as Behavioral Health or Behavioral Medicine coverage). Most policies provide coverage, but the limits of coverage vary widely. Your insurance card should have a number you can call to find out what your policy covers. Most insurance companies also have websites where you can find a list of providers in your area. (e.g., Blue Cross/Blue Shield provides a professional finder search on their website http://www.bcbs.com/). Most insurance comppaniess require that you submit a “co-pay” for each visit. This may be a set fee or a percentage of your provider’s hourly fee and is typically much less than the provider’s full fee.

What if I Don’t Have Insurance Coverage? You have a few options in this case. If you have the finances, you can pay for therapy on a fee-for-service basis. Depending on the therapist's level of education and geographic area, fees can vary widely. Hourly fees for doctoral-level psychologists in larger metropolitan areas can run upwards of $120 per hour or more. There are a few less expensive options, though. If you live near a large university that has graduate programs in psychology, call them to find out if they have an on-campus psychology clinic for community members. You will be seen by a graduate trainee under the supervision of a faculty member – often these services are very adequate for most presenting concerns. Many communities also have a community mental health agency, which provides low or no-cost mental health services to the community. The phone number can be found under the State Government Offices listing in your phone directory, or you can access the Texas Department of State Health Services website.

How Do I Find a Therapist That Will Meet My Needs? As a general rule of thumb, ask! Some therapists may agree to meet with you briefly at no charge to determine fit of services for you. You can also request to speak briefly with the therapist by phone. You will need to summarize your concerns very briefly – the therapist will tell you whether or not they have the expertise to meet your specific needs. If they do not, most therapists are happy to provide you with a referral name(s) for other providers.

For students who are interested in further reading about finding a therapist, you might consider reading A Guide to Psychotherapy by Gerald Amada, Ph.D. The following is an excerpt:

How Should I Select a Psychotherapist? Many people devote little forethought and inquiry to finding a therapist. Many of these same people will spend weeks, even months, anguishing and ruminating over which car they will purchase. They test-drive cars, consult Consumer Reports, discuss the matter with anyone who will listen to their plight and finally make what they hope is an intelligent choice. But when they experience a psychological crisis they unthinkingly open the Yellow Pages, read the listing of therapists and select, for instance, a therapist whose name is similar to that of their once favorite nursery school teacher. Perhaps without asking the therapist a single thing about his professional background, training and qualifications, they immediately request an appointment and, fingers anxiously crossed, hope for the best.