Finding Mental Health Care Off Campus

Students may seek out or be referred to mental health providers off-campus for a variety of reasons. These may include wanting long-term or ongoing therapy, or seeking a particular specialization or approach. Students can schedule an initial consultation at CAMHS to help identify the most appropriate services and care for their specific needs.

 
 
 
 

Resources & Info to find an Off Campus Mental Health Provider

ThrivingCampus

ThrivingCampus is a searchable database of mental health providers interested in working with college and graduate students.  Make sure to filter your search by insurance if you are looking for a therapist who is in-network with your insurance plan.  Students on the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan should select “Blue Cross Blue Shield” as their insurance.


See Tips section below for further guidance on how to search for and contact prospective therapists.

Additional Therapist Databases

Well Connection

Well Connection is a Blue Cross Blue Shield telehealth service that you can sign up for online (available for students on SHIP). To browse clinicians and schedule an appointment, follow the below steps:

  1. Create an account at https://www.bluecrossma.org/ 
  2. Select the My Care tab > Well Connection Video Visits
  3. Make sure to update your location in the top right corner if you are out of state
  4. Select "Therapy"
  5. Select "Choose by Provider" > Load More Providers to view all available clinicians and browse profiles
  6. Once you identify a therapist you are interested in working with, click “Schedule Appointment” 

Insurance and Cost Information

Students enrolled in the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan

  • If you see an outside provider who participates in the Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO network, your care will be covered in full for the first 8 visits. For visits 9 through 52, you will be responsible for a $35 copayment per visit, up to the 52-visit limit (August 1 – July 31). After 52 visits, you will be responsible for the full cost of your visit.
  • If you have further questions about your coverage, call HUSHP member services at (617) 495-2008.

If you are enrolled in a different insurance plan, you will need to contact your insurance directly to learn more about your benefits and potential out-of-pocket costs. Below are some important questions to ask when calling:

  • Does my plan cover Behavioral Health services in Massachusetts (or wherever you are located)?
  • What is my co-pay for "In-Network" outpatient Behavioral Health visits?
  • Do I have a deductible, and if so, what is the deductible for "In-Network" outpatient Behavioral Health services? How much of the deductible has already been met and when does it reset?
  • Do I have any "Out-of-Network" benefits?
  • How can I find a list of "In-Network" providers in my area?

Tips for Your Search

Searching Therapist Databases

  • Make sure to filter your search by insurance if you are looking for a therapist who is in-network with your insurance plan. Students on the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan should select “Blue Cross Blue Shield” as their insurance.  
  • Think of the initial search as “casting a wide net”.  It is best to identify a minimum of 5 therapists and reach out to all of them, even if you are not sure whether they will be the right fit.  
    • Your first goal is to identify therapists that are accepting new clients and have availability that aligns with yours.
  • Search in towns outside Cambridge/Boston for therapists offering teletherapy. During the pandemic, many therapists transitioned their practice to teletherapy only. There are still very limited in person therapy options in Cambridge & Boston. Therefore, if you are open to teletherapy, it will greatly expand your options and help you get connected quicker.    
    • Make sure to stick to therapists in Massachusetts, as they need to be licensed in the state you are located.
  • Licensed, trained therapists can have various types of degrees and licenses (PhD, PsyD, LICSW, LMHC).  The patient-therapist connection is generally a better predictor of outcomes, rather than the therapist’s degree.  Psychiatrists (MDs and Nurse Practitioners) typically prescribe and manage medication, and do not provide regular therapy.

Contacting Providers

You can email the therapist directly from their profile or website or call and leave a voicemail.  In your message, make sure to include: 

  • Your name
  • You are a student at Harvard University
  • Your insurance carrier (e.g., Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, etc.)
  • Contact information (email and phone)
  • Inquiry about their availability

Here is a sample script:  "My name is ____ and I am a student at Harvard University. I am currently searching for a therapist and have [BCBS PPO or other] for insurance. I am wondering if you have any availability in your practice at this time or in near future, and if so, if we could set up an initial meeting or a brief phone call to see if we could be a good fit. Thank you for considering and I look forward to hearing back from you.”

  • To save time and energy, write out an introduction/inquiry message that you can copy-paste into email or website contact forms. You can also write out a script for leaving voicemails. 
  • Therapists may not always return your call or email, or they will say they are "full" and unable to take new clients. This is part of the process and to be expected, so try not to be discouraged by this.  
  • Make sure your voicemail box is set up and can accept messages so the provider can leave you a voicemail if needed.

Assessing Fit and Choosing a Therapist

  • Once you hear back from someone with an opening, you can choose to set up an initial phone call or first meeting. This will allow you to get a much better sense of the therapist’s style, personality, and whether they have experience with the concerns you are hoping to address in therapy.   
  • If you hear back from multiple people, it is okay to speak with a couple different therapists first to assess fit before choosing one to work with. 
  • Sometimes it may take a few visits to really know if a therapist is the right fit for you.  Don’t be afraid to get started with someone, even if you’re not 100% sure. You can always look for a new therapist if needed and continue to work with the previous therapist for support in the interim.  

Navigating Insurance/Cost

  • Always confirm directly with the provider that they participate in your specific insurance plan. If the provider is unsure, you can call Member Services.
    • SHIP Member Services: (617) 495-2008
    • Other insurance plans – phone number for Member Services or Customer Services is on the back of your insurance card 
  • If you find a therapist that you are interested in working with, but they do not accept your insurance, you may still be able to see them as an “out-of-network” provider.   
    • Students enrolled in SHIP: If you see an outside provider who does not participate in the Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO network, you will be required to pay a $250 deductible, after which BCBS will reimburse 70% of the “allowable amount” of each visit. You may be balance billed for any amounts not considered allowable by Blue Cross Blue Shield. In addition, you may be required to pay in full at the time of your visit(s) and submit your claim(s) to BCBS for reimbursement.
    • If you are on a different insurance plan, contact Member Services (phone number on the back of your insurance card) to ask about your out-of-network benefits and whether you are eligible for reimbursement if you see an out-of-network provider. 
  • If you have concerns about covering the cost of copays, you can contact your financial aid officer.
  • Low Cost/Sliding Scale Therapy Resources in the Community:
    • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective: openpathcollective.org/ (sliding scale therapy - $30 - $50 for individual counseling, $30 - $80 for couples counseling)
    • The Therapy Center at Boston School for Psychoanalysis: https://talk-therapy.org/  (offers negotiable sliding scale rate)