Sometimes seeking therapy or medication services off campus is your best option to address a particular concern or meet your individual needs. If CAPS has recommended off-campus services or you are looking into them on your own, the information on this page can help. One way to find off-campus therapy referrals is to use our searchable database of local therapists who have expressed an interest in working with UCSC students. To log in, use your CruzID Blue.
The following sections provide more information about reasons for seeking off-campus services and the process of connecting with someone off campus.
Table of Contents
- Reasons to Seek Off-Campus Therapy
- Reasons to Seek Off-Campus Psychiatry (Medication) Services
- Assistance With and Resources for Off-Campus Referrals
Off-campus therapy provides several advantages over therapy on campus through CAPS:
- Off campus, you may be able to see a therapist on evenings or weekends, which is not currently possible on campus.
- Off campus, you typically have more flexibility to see a therapist for as long as you need or want. This is particularly beneficial when you have longstanding, complex, or more severe issues (e.g., ongoing depression, trauma, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, psychosis, complicated family history, drug and alcohol addiction)—you may find that you can make more progress on such issues when you are able to continue in therapy for longer than is usually possible on campus. Furthermore, some students just prefer open-ended rather than brief therapy.
- Off campus, you often have more choice in the therapist you see, as there are hundreds of therapists in the Santa Cruz area (often just one bus ride away), many of whom accept UCSC's insurance plan (SHIP).
- Off campus, services are available that are not available on campus, such as intensive outpatient and inpatient treatment for mental illness, eating disorders, and substance use disorders and comprehensive psychological or educational testing.
- At many times during the academic year, CAPS receives more requests for counseling services than we can address in a timely way, resulting in a wait time of 1 to 4 weeks for a first in-person counseling appointment; off campus, the wait time to begin counseling is typically shorter, so you can get the help you need sooner.
- You may prefer seeing an off-campus therapist for other reasons, such as when you live off campus.
In some situations, you may be interested in considering psychotropic medication (medication for mental health conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, anxiety, and ADHD). Psychiatry services include being evaluated for the need for medication, getting information about medication options and side effects, obtaining prescriptions for medications, medication follow-up, and in some cases, counseling. (Some psychiatrists provide both medication services and counseling; others provide medication services only.) Off-campus psychiatry may be preferable to psychiatry services at CAPS in a number of situations:
- The process of transferring medication care to CAPS from your existing doctor may take several weeks or longer, resulting in a lapse in your medication if you have not planned ahead; thus, in some cases, it makes more sense to continue receiving your ongoing prescriptions from your established doctor or transferring care to an off-campus clinician.
- At many times during the academic year, CAPS receives more requests for psychiatry services than we can address in a timely way, resulting in a wait time for an initial psychiatry assessment; off campus, the wait time to begin services may be shorter, so you can get the help you need sooner.
- CAPS, like many university counseling centers, takes a conservative approach to prescribing certain medications (such as medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]); thus, obtaining or continuing prescriptions for certain medications off campus may require fewer steps than getting these prescriptions filled through CAPS. (See our ADHD FAQ page.)
- If you have Kaiser insurance, your plan won't pay for appointments at non-Kaiser facilities and prescriptions written by non-Kaiser clinicians.
CAPS staff can provide you with a list of referrals for therapy or psychiatry services off campus and information about the process of connecting with these referrals. Call CAPS at (831) 459-2628 or stop by during business hours (Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) to schedule a phone appointment, during which we can assess your needs and discuss your options, or if you already have a counselor at CAPS, they can provide assistance. We have also created two downloadable brochures, one on seeking off-campus therapy and one on seeking off-campus psychiatry services, with information and tips about the process. You can also call your insurance company or visit its website to get referrals.
CAPS has created a searchable database to help you find an off-campus therapist in the Santa Cruz area. Sign in with your Cruz ID and blue password. If you are unable to access or use the database, please call CAPS during business hours at (831) 459-2628 for assistance.
If you have SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan through Anthem Blue Cross) and want to use your insurance to pay for off-campus services, you will need a SHIP referral form, which you will give to the off-campus clinician during your first appointment. CAPS can create this form, once you've spoken to one of our staff about what your concerns and needs are. Once this form is created, you can get it from a CAPS counselor if you are meeting in person with one, pick it up at the CAPS front desk during business hours, or log in to Health e-Messenger (the secure messaging system used by CAPS and the health center) to print out a PDF copy of this form (under "Referrals"). Using SHIP insurance, your out-of-pocket cost per therapy session or psychiatry appointment (the copay) is $20. There is no maximum number of sessions, and you do not need to meet a deductible for SHIP to pay for these services. If you are using SHIP to pay for ongoing off-campus services, you'll need to get a new referral form at the start of fall quarter to continue using SHIP to pay for these services, as the previous year's form will expire.
Students who have an insurance plan other than SHIP should contact their insurance company to ask what their plan covers. For students with Kaiser insurance, note that Kaiser only pays for services at one of its own facilities: The closest Kaiser locations are in Santa Clara, San Jose, and Campbell. Students with Medi-Cal coverage in Santa Cruz County can call Beacon Health Strategies to get local therapy referrals. For students with no insurance or whose insurance does not cover counseling, there are several low-fee options for counseling in the Santa Cruz area. CAPS can tell you about these options.
Please call CAPS at (831) 459-2628 during business hours (Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) for more information.