Off-Campus Referrals

Off Campus Referral Database link

Sometimes seeking therapy or medication services off campus (i.e. with a provider who is not from CAPS or UCSC Psychiatry) 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

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 typically 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 numerous therapists in the Santa Cruz area (often just one bus ride away), many of whom accept UCSC's insurance plan (SHIP).
  • Off campus, certain 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, which can result in a wait time of several weeks for an appointment after the initial assessment or appointments being available only every 2-3 weeks; off campus, the wait time to begin counseling may be shorter, and weekly appointments are often possible.
  • You may prefer seeing an off-campus therapist for other reasons, such as when you live off campus.

Reasons to Seek Off-Campus Psychiatry (Medication) Services

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 UCSC in a number of situations:

  • The process of transferring medication care to UCSC Psychiatry 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.
  • At many times during the academic year, UCSC Psychiatry receives more requests for psychiatry services than we can address in a timely way, resulting in a wait time of several weeks 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.
  • UCSC Psychiatry, 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 insurance plan won't pay for appointments at non-Kaiser facilities or for prescriptions written by non-Kaiser clinicians. Thus, it is typically best to see a psychiatrist through the Kaiser system.

Assistance With and Resources for Off-Campus Referrals

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  to schedule an initial appointment, during which we can assess your needs and discuss your options. If you already know you want to pursue off-campus referrals, you can request a short phone appointment from a CAPS clinician. Or, if you already have been seen by a counselor at CAPS this academic year, they can provide assistance with referrals. We have created two 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 for clinicians who take your insurance.

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 UC SHIP (University of California Student Health Insurance Plan through Anthem Blue Cross) and want to use your insurance to pay for off-campus services, you will need a UC 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 by phone or in person about what your concerns and needs are. You can get a copy of the form by logging 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 UC SHIP insurance, your out-of-pocket cost per therapy session or psychiatry appointment (no copay) is $0. There is no maximum number of sessions, and you do not need to meet a deductible for UC 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. In most cases, you don't need an appointment at CAPS to renew your UC SHIP referral form--just call us and we can update the form for the new academic year.

Students who have an insurance plan other than UC 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. There are Kaiser locations in downtown Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Watsonville, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Campbell, although mental health services may be limited at some of these locations. Students with Medi-Cal coverage in Santa Cruz County can call Beacon Health Strategies to get local therapy referrals. There are also 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.