Long Term Counseling (referrals to community providers)

Long-term individual therapy sessions are covered by your health insurance. For UC SHIP holders, there is typically no copay required, making it accessible and affordable for students.

Community Referral Option

SMHW offers the option of long-term therapy with mental health providers in the community. This involves regular sessions over an extended period, allowing for in-depth exploration and support for various mental health concerns.

Suitability for Different Needs

Long-term therapy is beneficial for addressing both mild and more serious mental health issues. It provides a consistent space for individuals to receive support, enhance overall well-being, and gain insights into themselves and their relationships.

Referral Process

During your Brief Consult appointment at SMHW, clinicians can provide you with recommendations for therapists in the community who align with your needs and preferences. They also offer support in providing necessary referral forms for UC SHIP enrollees. Clinicians can often assist the student in managing the presenting concerns and provide support until the student is able to access suitable community resources (bridge care).

Timely Access to Community Therapy

Students opting for therapy in the community can typically schedule an initial appointment with a community provider after an online intake. SMHW strives to maintain an updated list of culturally appropriate community clinicians and group practices ensuring prompt access to long-term therapy services.

Community Providers

UCSF SMHW works with a number of agencies who take UC SHIP (Anthem) or other insurance plans including:

  • LiveHealth Online https://livehealthonline.com/psychology/ Phone: (855) 603-7985
    • LiveHealth Online (LHO) (only takes UC SHIP/Anthem) is a website and mobile application that gives patients 24/7 access to on-demand video visits (including medical and psychiatric care). It has an urgent care focus and provides convenient access anytime, anywhere in California, even at home, via smartphone, tablet or computer. LHO connects patients with board-certified physicians supporting physical and behavioral health. Physicians can electronically prescribe to the member’s pharmacy. Note: Only noncontrolled substances can be prescribed.  
    • To learn more, visit Resources on LiveHealth Online
  • Thriving Campus https://ucsf.thrivingcampus.com/
    • ThrivingCampus is an online referral database with licensed and vetted therapists and prescribers focused on working with college students.
    • To learn more, visit ThrivingCampus
  • Octave Mental Health Octave | A Modern Mental Health Practice (findoctave.com)
    • Octave Mental Health offers individual, couples, or family therapy, led by an expert provider who's focused on your needs.
  • Inclusive Therapists Contact Inclusive Therapists | Inclusive Therapists for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Queer, Transgender, Nonbinary, Neurodivergent, Disabled communities: BIPOC & LGBTQ affirming therapists, coaches, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists near me, virtual, telehealth
    • For crisis options that do not dispatch law enforcement without consent.

Disclaimer: Please note that UCSF does not endorse all of the named resources. The compiled list is meant to provide students with a starting place in finding appropriate resources according to their needs and interests.

Navigating Mental Health Referrals with Your Insurance

  • For UC SHIP Insurance Holders: If you have UC SHIP insurance, SMHW can provide you with the necessary referral form to access community providers. During a Brief Consult, our clinicians will guide you through the process and help you select community referrals that are a good match for your needs.
  • For Private Insurance Holders: If you have private insurance (not UC SHIP), you can directly access community providers without needing a referral from SMHW. Simply call the customer service number on your insurance card to obtain a list of providers in your area.

Understanding HMO and PPO Plans:

  • HMO Plans: You need to choose a therapist who is "in network" with your insurance.
  • PPO Plans: You have the flexibility to choose almost any therapist. Your insurance provider will give you specific details about your coverage.

If you have Kaiser insurance:

Kaiser Permanente may approve members to receive mental health services from community providers on an outpatient basis. Steps to follow:

  • Identify an outside provider. Check if they are accepting new clients and confirm they accept Kaiser insurance.
  • Call the Department of Psychiatry (not Member Services) in your Kaiser Permanente service area to schedule an intake appointment. SF Kaiser Department of Psychiatry: 415-833-2292, Oakland Kaiser Department of Psychiatry: 510-752-1075. Or go to https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/northern-california/health-wellness/mental-health/services
  • During the intake appointment: Explain why you are requesting treatment from a community provider. Discuss your symptoms and lack of access to a Kaiser facility. Explain how Kaiser’s short-term and group treatment models do not align with your long-term therapy goals. Mention that you have previously worked with this outside provider and want to continue. Request a letter of authorization to present to the outside provider for billing purposes.

Notes: It can take a few weeks to receive the authorization letter. If immediately refused, ask to speak to the manager and make your request to them. A referral to the Department of Psychiatry from your PCP is not needed.

Please review your plan benefits and coverage for copay and deductible or contact your Kaiser member services.   

If You Have Medi-Cal Insurance

Check your Medi-Cal insurance carrier. Call the customer service number on your insurance card and ask for a list of providers in your area.

Factors to Consider When Looking For a Therapist*

The relationship, or fit, between therapist and client accounts for over 80% of what works in therapy. Make sure you trust your therapist and feel comfortable with them. If you attend a session or two and you don't feel good with therapist, go somewhere else!

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get set up with services.

  • Any preferences you may have for a therapist, if any (e.g. gender, ethnicity, cultural background, language, etc.)
  • Their areas of specialty
  • Their location and convenience for transportation (if in-person is available)
  • Look over the list of providers given to you and see who accepts your insurance. Here are some things to consider when looking for a therapist:
  • Pick a couple of therapists that interest you. Some therapists may not have openings that work with your schedule.
  • Chances are you will need to leave a voicemail for your prospective therapist. Most therapists in the community are in private practice and may not be able to respond right away when you call.  If you reach their voicemail, leave the following details:
    • Your name and phone number so they can contact you. (They may not have caller ID).
    • Let them know what health insurance you have.
    • Let them know you are seeking therapy for ________ concerns (e.g. depression, anxiety, breakups, difficulty adjusting, etc.)
  • Ask them if they are currently taking on new clients and if so, that you are interested in scheduling an initial meeting and consultation with them.  
    • Leave your name and number again.
    • Before calling, check to make sure your voicemail on your phone is set up. If you have already set up a voicemail, please make sure that your voicemail isn’t full so they can leave a message if they need to call you back. Be sure your voicemail includes your name so when the therapist returns your call, they are confident when leaving a message that they have reached the right person.
    • It may take a few days before you hear back from a therapist. However, do follow-up with them if you have not heard back in 3-7 days.

Once you meet the therapist, consider the following:

It is important that you feel comfortable with your therapist so that you can get the best results possible. If you don’t like the first therapist you meet or it doesn’t feel like a good fit, keep interviewing others. There are multiple factors that determine whether a therapist is a good fit, such as personality style, schedule, specialty, training and most of all your comfort with them. You will clarify what you like in a therapist as you meet different clinicians. Be patient with the process of finding the right therapist, it will be worth it.

  • You can let the therapist know that you are meeting with a few different therapists to figure out who is the best fit for you. This is very common and often expected.  
  • If you have gone through all these steps and have not found a therapist that fits for you, please let us know at SMHW. We can provide additional support, if needed. We want to help you get the services you need to help you succeed at UCSF.

*adapted from UCSB CAPS