Student studying at PMU, looking at his laptop.

Community Referral Services

A student’s needs may best be served by a referral to community resources. CAPS provides referral support by offering additional meetings and specialized services to connect you to an outside provider.

Examples of referrals to services outside CAPS include a need for specialized or more intensive care, graduation or leaving the state, and benefit from more frequent or long-term care.

When would someone use the off-campus referral guide?

This information will help provide you with information to help you get connected to the mental health services you need. CAPS offers short-term, in-house psychological and psychiatric services. When students prefer or require ongoing, long-term, or specialized treatment they may be referred to an off-campus provider as part of our network of support. Insurance is intended to help you cover the cost of such care. If you do not have insurance, there are local treatment facilities and private practitioners who offer services for a reduced fee.

This information is meant to provide a guide to finding a therapist outside of CAPS. CAPS' care management team is here to support you if you need assistance with any of the steps below; however, we do ask that you read the information on this page before contacting CAPS. You can reach our care management team by calling 765-494-6995.

What are the steps to using my insurance?

Step 1. Find your insurance card. If you do not have your card at school, ask your parent/ guardian to text you a picture of the front and back of the card or give you the information on the card by phone. Typically, you will need identifying information from the front and the insurance website and telephone number on the back of the card.

Step 2. Call your insurance company. Call the number on your card for mental health services. The phone number is likely on the back of your card and may be listed under “behavioral health services” or something similar.

Step 3. Get information about your benefits. Once you dial the number on the back of your insurance card, you will speak with a representative from your insurance company. They will ask you to verify some information to ensure that you are the individual covered by the insurance plan. When they ask why you are calling you can say “to find out what my benefits will cover for outpatient counseling.”

  • Some insurance plans require a payment for each visit you make to a provider. Ask how much you will pay per session; this is called a "co-pay."
  • Some insurance plans have an amount that you have to pay out of your pocket first; this is called a “deductible.” Once you pay that amount your insurance company will cover part or all of your visit. Ask what your yearly deductible is and how much is still owed for the year.

Step 4. Find in-network providers. Ask your insurance company for assistance with finding a mental health provider.

  • If you are looking for someone to talk with, ask for a list of counselors. These may include master level trained therapists (LMFT, LMHC, LCSW, etc.) or doctoral level trained therapists (PsyD or PhD).
  • If you are looking for someone who can prescribe medication, ask for a list of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or primary care physicians (PCPs).
What other resources are there to find a therapist?

There are many practical and creative ways to find a clinician to work with when you are living or traveling outside of Purdue or if you cannot see a provider at CAPS.

  • Local colleges or universities often have a list of recommended clinicians in their area. Search “counseling services at ____ university” and call the main number. Explain that you are a current or past Purdue student looking for referral recommendations in their city and they will typically pass on some names to you. They may also be able to match your insurance with specific providers.
  • Many clinicians have personal websites or profiles on large online databases to help find them. On these databases, you typically search by location and then sort findings by variables such as insurance, mental health issues, treatment approaches, etc. to find specific providers who may best support you. These are two examples:
  • If you are using your health insurance to pay for services, you can log into their website to search for providers.
  • Most cities have a local Mental Health America (MHA) branch that can provide assistance online or by phone for finding local mental health providers. Locally, MHA of Tippecanoe hosts both a Crisis Helpline (765-742-0244 call or text) and Mental Health Navigator Services (765-742-1800) or
Making the first contact with a therapist

After identifying providers, start by contacting at least one or two of them. You may need to contact more if the first few you contact do not call you back within 24-48 hours. Private practice providers almost never respond right away so do not get discouraged if you do not seem to be getting any responses. It is also not a bad idea to get on a waitlist at a clinic while looking for available private providers elsewhere. Consider the following in your initial outreach messages to providers:

  • For a voicemail, start the message with your full name and phone number.
  • Tell them what type or service you are looking for (i.e. talk therapy, medication, coaching, etc.).
  • Say something about what has been bothering you and/or what has led you to call for help – keep this brief.
  • Tell them what kind of insurance you have or what your financial situation is.
  • Tell them when you are generally available to meet for treatment.
  • Tell them the best way and time to reach you.
  • For a voicemail, end the message with your full name and number again.

Providers may call you back in a couple days or so. When you make contact, in addition to setting up a time to meet, you may also consider asking some questions. Depending on your needs and situation, it is appropriate to ask a potential provider any of the following:

  • "My concerns have to do with ___. Do you have experience working with these concerns?”
  • “What is your approach to working with these issues?”
  • “I have ___ insurance. Are you in my network? What are your fees and payment policies?”
  • “I do not have insurance coverage. Do you offer any discounts or other fee arrangements like sliding scale?”

NOTE: It is important to feel comfortable with your provider for therapy to be effective. If after a few sessions with the provider you do not feel that they are a good fit for you or therapy is not working, it is advisable to discuss these concerns with them. It is okay to look for another provider with whom there is better fit, but it is important to know what didn’t work in the first place to know what to look for with a new provider.

Need Assistance Obtaining Health Insurance?

Purdue University partners with UnitedHealthcare to provide a Purdue student health insurance plan. UnitedHealthcare offers comprehensive health insurance coverage to students within a network of local and national health care providers to ensure accessible health care. You are not required to use your student insurance to pay for private care, but many students do. You can contact an insurance representative by calling (855) 870-5858 or logging in at

If you have problems with your student insurance or have questions about benefits, claims or other insurance information, there are representatives at the Purdue University Student Health Center (room G11 and G13) who may be able to assist you. The Student Insurance Office can be contacted by phone at (765) 496-3998 or by email at

Financial Assistance for off-campus therapy

If you need financial assistance to help pay for your deductible or other services, you may be eligible for an emergency loan through the Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS). Loan applicants must call ODOS at (765) 494-1747 to initiate the application process for an emergency loan.

If you do not have insurance or cannot use your insurance for whatever reason, there are therapists in the community who will see patients for reduced fees or other fee arrangements like a sliding scale. Make sure to ask about these arrangements when making a call to community providers. The Aspin Lafayette Navigator/Community Health Worker will also work with those in need of applying for health insurance for the first time. You can contact Aspin by phone at (877) 313-7215 or online at  

How much will my appointment cost?
Call your insurance company to find out the answer. Inquire what your co-pay is to see a therapist/psychiatrist. A co-pay is the amount that you will be responsible for paying at each session. If your insurance plan does not have a co-pay it will have a deductible, which means that you have to pay 100% of the session cost until your deductible has been met. Your insurance company will then pay for part or all of your session cost. You can also ask if the plan has an out of pocket limit. This means that once your family has spent this amount of money (co-pays, medication etc.) insurance will cover your expenses at 100%.
What if I do not have insurance or my insurance doesn't cover providers in the greater Lafayette area?
Some providers offer a lower rate for out-of-pocket payments or sliding scale arrangements. Sliding scale typically means that session fees would be determined by an assessment of your financial means. Some providers are not yet licensed (but practice under the supervision of a licensed clinician) and are able to offer lower cost sessions.
Will my parents know that I am going to a mental health provider if I am on their insurance plan?
While confidentiality of mental health services is legally protected, some information (including date and type of appointments) may be conveyed in correspondence sent to the person who pays for your insurance. For more details, please speak to your insurance company and your provider.
Can I just look on the internet to find a provider that takes my insrance?
If you decide to use the "Find a Provider" feature on the website for your insurance company, be sure to enter your member number or plan name. If you just go to the website of the main insurance company on your card, you might end up with a list of providers that do not take your specific insurance. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to confirm that your insurance covers your treatment.
What is the difference between the kinds of mental health providers?
  • Mental Health Providers for Counseling (Note: This is a non-exclusive list. Licensures may vary by state)
    • Ph.D. and Psy.D. (Psychologist with a doctorate, should indicate licensure status)
    • LMHS (Licensed Mental Health Clinician)
    • LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist)
    • LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)
  • Mental Health Providers for Medication (Note: This is a non-exclusive list. Licensures may vary by state)
    • Psychiatrist (MD or DO) or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
    • Some family doctors and primary care physicians will prescribe medications, often for anxiety or depression
What if I want to see someone who does not contract with my insurance?
It will likely be more expensive to see an ‘out-of-network provider’ than a provider on your insurance company’s panel. However, you can ask your insurance company if your plan is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). If you do have a PPO, it is possible that your company will pay a portion of the fee for an out-of-network provider.
What if I need to speak with someone immediately for a mental health emergency?
  • Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM:
    • Call the local Crisis Line at (765) 742-0244
    • Call the local Crisis Line at (765) 742-0244 or CAPS’s after hour’s service at (765) 494-6995 (and Dial 1)
  • After hours or on the weekend:
    • Call the local Crisis Line at (765) 742-0244 or CAPS’s after hour’s service at (765) 494-6995 (and Dial 1)
    • Go to the nearest Emergency Room at
      • IU Health – 5165 McCarty Ln, Lafayette, IN
      • St. Elizabeth – East – 1701 S. Creasy Ln, Lafayette, IN