TU Counseling Center vs. Private Counseling Services: How to Decide?
It’s a positive step that you are considering obtaining counseling help. Counseling can be very helpful for a great many difficulties. The Counseling Center provides brief counseling for issues that have arisen recently or will resolve quickly. If you are facing more ongoing difficulties (say, for six months or longer, or you have needed mental health help in the past), the Counseling Center is likely to recommend counseling services on a private basis that are not so strictly limited.
If you are unsure what is best for you, Counseling Center psychologists and therapists can assist you in determining what kind of help is appropriate for your needs. In addition, the Counseling Center offers group counseling and other services that might be useful to you whether or not you have ongoing individual counseling needs. However, if you would be more comfortable accessing counseling services on your own, you can use the Counseling Center’s Community Provider Database or the following information to arrange for outside counseling help.
If you are currently at risk in any way (e.g., if you are considering suicide or are at risk of physical harm), we urge you to call the Counseling Center right away and ask for an emergency appointment. If you need help after hours, we recommend that you use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and/or the Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline (1-800-422-0009), or call 911, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Finding a Therapist Off-Campus
If you are fairly sure you would like to access ongoing (vs. limited) counseling, there are a number of ways of finding quality help locally on your own. There is a wealth of information on the internet, making it relatively easy to find a therapist in the area. Once you find some possible therapists, the next step is for you to call any of these people to set up an initial appointment. You should discuss any questions you have on the telephone before agreeing to an appointment. You may then schedule one initial appointment in order to determine whether you feel comfortable continuing with that person. It will help if you are able to discuss any reservations you have in that meeting.
The following information is meant to help you meet your goal of obtaining treatment.
The above listings are not exhaustive, and our listing these links does not constitute our endorsement of the links or the clinicians that are listed there.
What are the different types of Mental Health providers?
You may be feeling uncertain about which mental health provider could be helpful to you. Below are some brief descriptions of the services that the different providers can deliver.
Nurse Practitioner (NP, CRNP, MHNP): nurses who have completed a master’s degree and their services can include prescribing medicine and counseling
Social Workers (LCSW-C) and Licensed Professional Counselors (LCPC): therapists who have Master’s degrees and provide counseling and a variety of other services
Psychiatrist (MD): medical doctors that can provide psychiatric evaluations and prescribe medication. Many psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy
Psychologist (PhD, PsyD): therapists who have doctoral degrees and can provide a variety of services including assessment, testing and psychotherapy/counseling
Factors to consider in choosing a Mental Health Provider
A very important factor in addressing your Mental Health needs is finding a clinician you can trust. Consider the following options to help in making your decision. Know that you do not need to have answers to all of these questions as you may be uncertain about the credentials you may want or which approach to counseling would be most helpful. Focus on the qualities and issues that are most important to you.
What type of services might you be in need of? Services you might be looking for include individual personal counseling, couples therapy, medication or psychological testing.
What are your goals and presenting concerns? For example, to decrease anxiety symptoms and improve relationships.
What type areas of expertise would you prefer? Clinical expertise areas include panic disorder, eating disorders, or ADHD Treatment.
What gender would you prefer? Some students may have a preference for working with a provider of a particular gender.
Might the cultural, ethnic or identity background or sensitivity of the provider be important to you?
What location(s) are preferable? Many provider offices are located within walking distance of campus.
What is their philosophy or approach to counseling? Providers operate from a wide variety of approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. However, it could be that having a therapist you trust, feel connected with, and who understands you well might be more important than the therapist’s style or approach.
Using Your Health Insurance
If you are considering using your health insurance to obtain counseling, you might want to find a therapist who has a relationship with your health insurance company. You may find such a therapist by contacting your health insurance company either by phone or through accessing their online database of health providers. The latter is generally the easiest route to finding a provider off campus, often called “Find a doctor” or “Doc Finder.” When accessing your health insurance company’s database, have your insurance card with you in order to provide information on your specific plan. Therapists and Psychiatrists are usually listed under Behavioral Health or Mental Health. If you need to find a therapist within walking distance of Towson University, use one of the following zip codes: 21252, 21204, and 21212.
Therapists who are not on the panel of your insurance company may still be able to submit information for reimbursement by your insurance company. Depending on the type of your policy, however, the reimbursement might be less. If a non-participating provider was recommended to you, also called an “out-of-plan provider,” you should feel free to ask that therapist and your insurance company about the level of coverage.
This link may help find a therapist through TU’s Student Health Insurance.
If You Do Not Have Health Insurance or Finances are a Concern
When considering making an appointment with an off campus provider, many students are concerned about finances, particularly if they do not have insurance or feel uncomfortable letting parents know about the need for treatment at this point. Please know that financial limitations do not need to be a barrier to receiving mental health treatment. Here are some suggestions:
If you find a provider in the community who interests you, consider contacting them to ask if s/he offers “sliding scale services” or a “reduced fee”. Be honest with the provider about what you can afford.
Consider a low cost provider. Some centers in the area that offer low cost or sliding scale services ($5-20). Some services may involve no cost. Check out the below no or low cost options.