Questions to Ask Potential Off-Campus Providers

When looking for off-campus mental health services, it is important to be open and direct about your reasons for seeking services. It is equally important that you feel comfortable sharing personal information with the provider you have chosen. Just because you contact the referral source or schedule an appointment does not mean you have to commit yourself to working with that provider. Some people prefer to speak with several providers before making a final choice. Oftentimes providers offer a free 15-minute consultation (usually by phone) to ensure a good fit between client and provider.

Here are some questions you can ask in your initial conversations with a new provider to help you assess if they will be a good fit for you.

  • What insurances do you take?
  • Do you file insurance for clients? If not, do you provide any assistance with this process?
  • How do your clients normally pay any co-pays? Cash? Credit card? Which cards do you take?
  • Do I need to bring a copy of my insurance card?
  • Do you offer a sliding scale* or pro-bono** services based on ability to pay?
  • How much do you charge for the initial assessment? 
  • How much do you charge for each session?

*Sliding scale therapy refers to treatment priced by each person’s income and dependents. This fee structure exists to help make therapy more affordable for people living at a lower income level. A sliding fee scale may be ideal for clients who pay in cash, often because they don’t have health insurance. It can also be utilized by those who are seeing a therapist that is not in-network with their insurance provider. An important note for those who have insurance: A provider cannot charge an insured client less (or more) than they have contractually agreed to with a client’s insurance company.
**Pro bono counseling is offered at no charge, in limited situations, and is often accompanied by extenuating circumstances.

  • What is your current availability?
  • What are your typical days/hours?
  • How do clients schedule appointments with you?
  • How do clients cancel appointments?
  • How much notice do you require to cancel appointments? Is there a cancellation, no show, or late fee? 
  • How long are typical appointments?

  • What areas do you specialize in?
  • What is your treatment style?
  • What might a session with you look like?
  • Do you have experience treating _______?
  • Do you have experience treating people like me (fill in your demographic)?
  • Do you treat a lot of college students?
  • If a mental health emergency arises, will you be available for me to contact?

  • Are you on a bus line? Which one?
  • Is parking available? Do I have to pay for parking?
  • What should I do if I’m running late for an appointment or need further directions?