CPS Referral Guide for Off-Campus Psychological Services

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) offers short-term psychological and psychiatric services, but when students require ongoing, long-term or specialized treatment (e.g., stimulant medications, neurological services, intensive individual psychotherapy, drug detoxification/treatment) or if students prefer to seek treatment in the community, they are referred to an off-campus provider.

If you have been referred to off-campus care or are interested in pursuing off-campus psychological services, learn more about:

Insurance/Paying for Care

Ongoing, long-term mental health care is generally considered a private health care responsibility, not a routine service provided by the University. Your student insurance or private insurance is intended to help you cover the costs of such care.

Student Health Plan

If you have the Princeton University Student Health Plan (SHP), you are not required to use your student insurance to pay for off-campus care, but many students do. Remember that you are responsible for paying any fees you incur that are not paid by your insurance. The SHP has a network of providers, most of them local to the Princeton area, called the Princeton Exclusive Provider Network (EPN). You also have access to Aetna’s national network of providers on Aetna's website.

Contacts for Questions

If you have the Student Health Plan and have any questions about the insurance, please call Aetna Student Health directly at 877-437-6511 or visit the Aetna website.

You may also want to view the Student Health Plan office’s website for specifics on deductibles, copays and in- and out-of-network coverage. You may also email the SHP Office directly at shpo@princeton.edu.

Private Insurance Through a Parent/Guardian

If you are not on the SHP and have other insurance coverage, you must determine your policy’s coverage and benefits by logging into your insurance plan’s website or contacting your insurer directly. If you are on your parent/guardian’s plan, you may have to speak with your parent/guardian to gain access to your insurance. When looking into your insurance benefits, you may want to ask your insurance company some questions.

Sample Questions
  • Do I have mental health benefits?
  • What is the yearly deductible, and does it apply to mental health benefits?
  • What do the benefits cover?
  • How can I find an in-network provider?
  • Do I have out-of-network benefits?
  • How much does my plan cover, and how much is my responsibility?

Financial Assistance

If you need financial assistance to help pay for your deductible or for ongoing services, you may be eligible for some funding. Please visit the Campus Resource Guide's Emergency Funds information for more information about possible options.

Finding a Provider

The right match between students and a therapist/psychiatrist can be very important in contributing to effectiveness of treatment and care. We cannot guarantee the match and quality of care students receive from private providers, and it is important for you to make a choice that works for you. Sometimes the first provider you meet is the right one for you, but at other times that is not the case. If you feel you have not found a good match, do not hesitate to contact your referring CPS clinician or the CPS Clinical Treatment Coordinator immediately, and they will help you with your next steps, including providing other referrals.

Thriving Campus Database

Princeton University has partnered with Thriving Campus, a company committed to improving student access to mental health care. These providers have identified themselves as individuals and facilities providing mental health services, including specialized care and treatment for a variety of disorders and special populations. They have experience working with university students and were invited to join by Princeton’s CPS or by counseling center staff at other colleges or universities. Any provider with a profile on Thriving Campus has had their license verified. 

CPS will provide you with at least a few resource options so that you may determine which particular provider is appropriate for you and your mental health needs. You may also conduct a search on your own through the Thriving Campus database. You can search for providers for therapy and/or medication management in the Princeton area and also in other parts of the country if you are seeking care over the summer or while on a leave of absence. You do not need to create a login to search, and you can narrow down your search criteria using the options along the left side of the page.

How to Make the First Contact

Typically, you may reach a provider’s voicemail when you first call. Leave a message identifying yourself, saying who referred you, and when and how you can be reached. The provider will call you back usually within a day or so. When you make contact, in addition to setting up a time to meet, you may ask additional questions. Depending on your needs and situation, you may ask a potential provider some questions.

Sample Questions
  1. “My concerns have to do with anxiety/depression/eating issues/alcohol issues/relationship problems, etc., and I am looking for a therapist/psychiatrist. Do you have experience working with these concerns?”
  2. “What is your approach to working with these issues?”
  3. “Are you working virtually? If not, where is your office located?”
  4. “I have XX insurance. Are you a provider in my network, or will you be an out-of-network provider? What are your fees and payment policies?”
  5. “Do you offer any discounts or other fee arrangements such as sliding scale?”

Verifying a Provider's Credentials

You can obtain further information about providers by asking information their credentials. You can also contact the state licensing board of a specific profession to obtain verification of a person’s license and credentials from a third party. For example, if you are attempting to verify licensure information about a New Jersey licensed psychologist, you may contact the NJ Board of Psychological Examiners at 973-504-6470 or go to the website. Other mental health care providers you may want information about may be licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, or mental health facilities. You can access most information about these individuals and institutions by searching for the specific profession and “board licensing verification” or “credentialing.” If the provider is in the state of New Jersey, you may also visit the NJ Consumer Affairs website.

Contacts for Additional Questions

If you have any questions, concerns, or need help in any way, please contact the CPS clinician who referred you or the CPS Clinical Treatment Coordinator, and they will be happy to help. For additional questions about off-campus mental health care, please call Counseling and Psychological Services at 609-258-3141.