Navigating Off-Campus Services

Judson University students may need services aside from brief individual therapy or group services that the Wellness Center provides. When off-campus therapy is recommended by a therapist or preferred by students, the Wellness Center provides a list of local resources that may meet your needs.

The Wellness Center is committed to providing comprehensive referral services. If you have already met with a Wellness Center counselor and they referred you to an off-campus provider, they will follow-up with you via telephone to ensure that you followed-through with recommendations and to answer additional questions that may arise.

The following information includes helpful ideas, tips and steps to consider when seeking services off campus. Remember, therapist personality, treatment style, fees and availability can vary considerably from provider to provider, the following information can empower you to navigate the referral process.

Locating Mental Health Providers

Attempting to locate a reputable mental health provider may seem overwhelming, however, the following tips may prove helpful.

  • Contact your insurance company. A customer service representative can provide referral options either by phone or website (see Insurance Plans section below for more guidance). Contact information is located on the back of your card.
  • Ask your primary care/family doctor. He or she may be able to offer local referral options.
  • Check with trusted friends or family members. They may provide suggestions for therapists they have worked with who may be appropriate for you to contact.
  • Contact colleges/universities in your hometown. Often college/university counseling centers maintain a list of local mental health providers who have experience working with college-age students.
  • Review the following websites:

While these resources are helpful, it is important to verify information with providers before deciding to begin services.

Initial Appointment Phone Call

Calling a counselor for the first time can sometimes feel like an intimidating task. Please remember that therapists are people too, and they understand the feelings of nervousness and hesitation that often surround new experiences. Be as prepared as possible with the information they will need. Have a pen and paper ready for writing down important information provided to you during the call. This may include appointment date/time, address and/or directions to office, or billing information.

Often the first phone call will result in a voicemail, and you will hear back from the provider within 1-3 days. When leaving a voicemail, share the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Let them know you are calling to schedule an initial therapy appointment
  • Referred by Judson University Wellness Center
  • Insurance Information – share with them the company that your insurance is through
  • Day/Time when you are available for Return Call
  • Repeat Your Phone Number Two Times SLOWLY

Beyond the Basics

Providing the same information may be necessary when speaking to a counselor, but use this opportunity to ask questions, as well. A crucial first step to the counseling process is becoming informed about a provider’s style, training, and experiences working with college or graduate students. A brief phone conversation will provide you a good sense of who you may connect or work well with.

Suggested questions:

  • Training: What is their experience in dealing with your particular concerns?
  • Style: How do they approach therapy?
  • Availability: How soon can you schedule an appointment? What hours/days are they available to meet with you? Do they offer evening or weekend hours?
  • Transportation: If you are not very familiar with the Elgin area – ask for directions to the office and parking.
  • Fees: What are their practices regarding payment? For example, are you required to pay the fee up front and then you submit your receipts for reimbursement to your insurance company? Do they offer sliding scale? Do they offer cash payments if they do not accept your insurance?

Trust your gut reactions during this conversation:

  • Was the counselor willing to share information?
  • Did you get a good impression? Did she/he put you at ease?
  • If you really felt uncomfortable talking with them, then contact the next agency on the list.

Financial Considerations

There are a variety of ways students choose to cover the cost of mental health services, including insurance benefits, self-pay, or reduced cost/pro-bono options. Most students prefer to access their health insurance benefits to help cover the cost of therapy and psychiatric services. Visit our Insurance FAQs page for more information about insurance.

No Insurance/Paying “Out-of-Pocket”?

If you are unable to use your health insurance benefits and have to pay for services out of pocket, examining your monthly budget and seeking financial support from others (parent or partner) are helpful first steps. Determine how much you can reasonably afford and still meet your financial obligations. Many Psychologists (PhD. or PsyD.), Social Workers (LCSW) and Professional Counselors (LPC or LCPC) typically charge between $80-140 per fifty-minute session. Be aware, especially if you are going to pay for counseling out of pocket (without insurance), that some counselors offer “sliding scale” fees that are lower than the full fee. Please note that these openings fill very quickly and every counselor does not provide this option. When calling a counselor you may want to ask them if and when they anticipate having such an opening.

Transportation Considerations

For students with access to cars, most of the referral providers listed will be easily accessible within a 10-15 minute drive from Judson University.

For students who do not have access, or who prefer public transportation, there are still many ways to safely get to your off-campus appointments. Options include:

  • Pace Bus Transit Services: A Pace bus stops at Judson University, near the HWAC building. Route 550 serves the Algonquin, Carpentersville, Crystal Lake, Elgin, and Lake in the Hills area. Route 552 serves the Elgin and West Dundee area. (
  • Uber or Lyft: App for accessing local licensed drivers using Smart Phone. Simply go to the Google Play Store (for Android/Google phone) or the App Store (for Apple phones) and search for the apps to download.

If you do not have a car, it is a good idea to take a taxi to your first session or two until you learn less expensive means of transportation. If you are completely unfamiliar with an area, it is often helpful to use Google maps to orient yourself to the area of the city where a provider is located. Street level views can be helpful to recognize the location when you arrive and identify helpful landmarks to orient yourself in the future.

You can also ask the provider if they offer any shuttle services or ride share options. Also, some providers will come to your home (even if it’s on campus), so you can also ask if they provide in-home services.