How to find a therapist
- Call the customer service number on your insurance card and ask for a list of providers in your area.
- Look at the list of agencies and low cost providers at the bottom of this page.
- Use the Psychology Today Therapist Finder page:
- On the left hand side of the screen you are able to narrow your search by insurance carrier, presenting concern and other variables.
- There are pictures of the therapists and they write about themselves. Often it’s easier to see if it’s someone you want to work with rather than just looking at a list of names.
Do you have PPO or HMO Insurance?
- You can find out if you have a PPO or HMO by looking at your insurance card.
- If you have an HMO, you will need to see a therapist that is already "in network" with your insurance. See the steps above to find someone who is already in your network of providers.
- If you have a PPO, you can choose almost any therapist. Here’s how that works:
- You pay the therapist’s fees up front.
- The therapist will provide you with a Superbill, which is a detailed receipt for your insurance company.
You can submit that Superbill to your insurance for full or partial reimbursement (depending on your insurance).
There is an app called Better Claims that makes this process easy. Just take a picture of your insurance card and your Superbill and they take care of the rest.
If You Have Kaiser Permanente Insurance
In some instances, Kaiser Permanente will approve its members to receive services from community providers for mental health-related care on an outpatient basis. In order to request this, call the Department of Psychiatry (NOT Member Services) in your Kaiser Permanente service area and explain why you are requesting treatment from a community provider (i.e., discuss your symptoms and lack of access to a Kaiser facility in SLO County). If you are immediately refused, you can ask to speak to the manager and make your request to them. You do not need a referral to the Department of Psychiatry from your PCP.
Approval for these referrals generally comes after you have been assessed by a Kaiser Permanente provider in the Department of Psychiatry (at a Kaiser facility). You will need to schedule an "Intake" with someone in that department and discuss your symptoms. If you have been seeing a counselor, you can sign a Release of Information for your counselor to speak with your Kaiser-assigned provider. Ultimately, the Kaiser provider you see in the Department of Psychiatry will make the referral to another treatment center.
If You Have CenCal Medi-Cal Insurance
CenCal Medi-Cal partners with The Holman Group to administer behavioral health benefits for their customers. The Holman Group has a contracted network of behavioral health providers throughout San Luis Obispo County who you may contact directly to schedule an appointment. Here is a list of providers contracted with The Holman Group. You may also contact The Holman Group toll free at 1-800-321-2843.
If You Do Not Have Insurance
San Luis Obispo County has a Nurse Navigator who can help you understand some available options. Please access that information here.
Online Peer Counseling
There are a group of trained peers (not affiliated with Cal Poly) available online. There is a moderate fee for this services. See the Peer Collective website for additional information.
Factors to Consider When Looking For a Therapist
The relationship, or fit, between therapist and client accounts for over 80% of what works in therapy. Make sure you trust your therapist and feel comfortable with them. If you attend a session or two and you don’t feel good with the therapist, go somewhere else!
Potential questions to ask therapists when you call.
- Are you taking new clients?
- How often can I be seen by you? (Once a week is fairly typical)
- What is the cost per session? Do you have a sliding scale or special rates for Cal Poly students? Are you able to provide a Superbill? (This is if you have a PPO Insurance)
- What is your therapy style? How do you typically operate in session?
- Do you have any experience working with my type of concern?
Intensive Outpatient Services
Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Care
95 miles from Cal Poly
The resources below provide low or no cost services. Please contact the resource directly with any questions and to see if you are eligible.
Low Fee Options
Online national directory of affordable and sliding scale counseling services: lowcosthelp.com
Here are some specialty agencies you might consider: