Off-Campus Referrals

Counseling Services

MCPHS Counseling Services offers short-term, in-house psychological services. When students require ongoing, long-term, specialized, and/or psychiatric treatment, they are referred to an off-campus provider.


Our community providers have access to services not available at Counseling Services (e.g., psychiatric care, hospitalization, medication, weekend hours, etc.). Counseling Services has access to many clinicians in the area, so do not hesitate to ask for additional referrals in order to find the right match for you.

Tips for finding an off-campus counselor

When students are referred to the local community for psychotherapy, they often have questions about licensure, how to find a therapist, and making the first appointment. Below are a few guidelines to help you.

Finding a therapist

You may utilize the Welltrack Connect website to find a therapist specialized to help students.

Degrees/types of providers/who’s who – what you’ll find:

  • Mental health counselors and clinical social workers have a master's or doctorate degree.
  • Psychologists have a master’s or doctorate in clinical or counseling psychology.
  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are able to prescribe medications in addition to offering psychotherapy, and are specialists in the use of medication to treat emotional distress.

The particular degree a counselor has may not matter as much as the "fit" you have with him or her. Licensure, however, is important.

Contacting counselors

Once you have received your off-campus referral and have determined your insurance coverage, the next step is to contact the counselor(s) you would like to see. Typically, this involves leaving a message for the counselor stating your name, number, and a brief description of why you are calling. The counselor will then call you back to discuss your options.

When the counselor calls, be prepared to give a few sentences describing why you are seeking counseling. For example, "I have been feeling______and it is affecting me _______." Be as specific as you can, especially if you have concerns about eating, substance use, unsafe behaviors, or an ongoing condition. Ask the counselor if they have any openings to see a new client. If so, ask about their experience and approach in dealing with your type of concern. If the counselor does not have any openings, you might ask if your name can be added to a waiting list or if you can contact a different counselor.

Setting up an appointment

If you feel comfortable with the answers you have received from the counselor, set up an appointment. If your insurance plan requires that you get a referral from your primary care physician, contact your doctor to explain that you are seeking counseling and need a referral for your insurance coverage.

Meeting the counselor for the first time

The counselor may ask you some standard questions about your concerns in the first meeting. If you have seen a counselor before, you can sign a "release of information," which allows your previous counselor to communicate with your new counselor. If after having some meetings with the new counselor you feel it is not a good fit, it is fine to discuss these concerns. Counselors can sometimes alter their approaches, or you may decide that this counselor is not right for you and choose to see someone else.

Navigating Your Insurance Benefits

Massachusetts requires all adult residents to have health insurance. You may either be covered by private insurance or the MCPHS Student Health insurance. Your student insurance or private insurance can help you cover the cost of such care. If you do not have in-state insurance, the Counseling Services staff can direct you to several local treatment facilities and private practitioners who offer service for a reduced fee.

Student Health Insurance Plan

MCPHS has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide health insurance coverage for students. Blue Cross Blue Shield provides comprehensive health insurance coverage to students within a network of local and national health care providers to ensure accessible health care. While you are not required to use student health insurance to pay for private care, many students do. If you are experiencing difficulties with your student insurance or have questions about benefits, claims, or other insurance information, please contact:

  • University Health Plans, Inc. at 1.800.437.6449
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield at 1.800.262.2583 or at
  • The Dean of Students Office at 617.732.2929

Step 1: Understand your insurance or ID card

Front of card:

  • Member: The person eligible for covered services.
  • Identification #: Helps the insurance company verify your eligibility and coverage when you call customer service. The three letters preceding your identification number are required for processing your claims.
  • Group #: Identifies the benefits of your particular plan.
  • Medical Network: Name of your healthcare provider network.

Back of card:

The back of your card typically has important phone numbers. They include but are not limited to a customer service number, TTY number for the hearing impaired, provider locator number, provider eligibility number, pharmacy locator/Medco pharmacy number, and 24-hour Nurse Line. The provider section includes important information for providers, including the claims submission address.

Step 2: Call the “Behavioral Health or Mental Health” number on the back of your card

Know your insurance # (located on the front of your card), date of birth, and home address. What you should say: “I am looking for behavioral health/mental health benefits for outpatient in-office treatment.”

Step 3: Understand the two different types of insurance benefits

In-Network: You must go to a therapist within your insurance plan’s network of providers.

Out-of-Network: You have the option to see a therapist outside of your insurance plan’s provider network. Out-of-Network may require you to pay the therapist a fee upfront and then submit a copy of the bill to the insurance company for reimbursement. You may also be responsible for paying the difference between the therapist rate and the “customary rate” determined by your insurance company. Make sure to clarify this with them on the phone before deciding to go the Out-of-Network route.

Step 4: Ask the right questions

It is important to remember that you are responsible for paying any fees you incur that are not paid by your insurance. Before beginning care, discuss how you are expected to handle payment with your provider. Is there a deductible to meet? If so, how much? How much has been met to date? (Not applicable for Student Health Insurance Plan.)

  • What is the co-pay or co-insurance?
  • How many sessions can I receive per year?
  • Is pre-authorization or a referral required before meeting with a therapist?

Step 5: Find out what providers in your area are In-Network with your insurance

Go to the insurance company’s website to view their provider list. This list will provide you with information on what providers are in your area and in your network.

Step 6: Find out as much information as possible.

Check out Psychology Today. Many providers are listed on this website and you can search a provider name to read reviews and find out more information.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact the MCPHS Counseling Services office on your campus or contact your clinician directly.