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Where to Find Appropriate Referrals (When Clients Cannot Afford Services)

Where to Find Appropriate Referrals (When Clients Cannot Afford Services)

It happens sometimes where there is a client that you want to help, but because of fees or you do not accept their insurance, it is just not going to work out. You probably want to find somewhere for them to go, but the question is where to send them, or even where to start looking. Finding appropriate referrals for your clients may be difficult at times, but it does not have to be an insurmountable obstacle. Here are some ideas on how to search out referrals for these particular clients. 

Let insurance companies be your ally. For clients with insurance, their carrier will be able to list providers in network in the area. They may be able to tell you if there are any practioners that specialize in something that the client needs, for example if a client is looking for help with addiction, or to get an intelligence test done, they may be able to provide that level of detail. This varies from carrier to carrier, but at worst you should be able to get a list of therapists that they will cover. 

The state mental health system and Medicaid/Medicare can be your sources of information and referral as well. The community mental health system is tasked with providing comprehensive mental health services to people from cradle to grave who are indigent or on Medicaid/Medicare. With this massive charge and the number of lives in their care, they are often restricting services to the most severe of the population. That may be something you wish to let your clients know ahead of time before referring them over to the CMH system.  

Hospitals and physician referral services can give a good amount of information as well on services and insurance accepted. This can be particularly useful when looking for someone to handle a specific issue, like a counselor specializing in grief and loss. Information and referral services can often provide a wealth of hidden knowledge, that can give your clients a next step towards finding a therapist. 

Use as a resource as well. With the area code search feature, you can get a list of counselors and agencies that can provide services at low or even no cost. This can be a service that you or clients can use. Even using it together, you might be able to help them search through the options to find the right therapist for them. 

This may be a good opportunity to remind yourself of the connections you already have in the human service community, and maybe branch out and make new ones. Innovation often happens at the grassroots level because of a need and gets advertised via word of mouth. Remember, as therapists, using what you know is the best tool you have. 

It is completely understandable and appropriate to refer clients out when you cannot reasonably provide them with services. Helping them find their way, and that next step to a possibly more helpful therapist or agency is one way you can do your part in getting them the assistance that they need. 

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Jason Simpkins
Posted on 04/27/2018 by Jason Simpkins

Jason Simpkins is a writer at Open Counseling. He is a clinical social worker in Michigan and is dedicated to having quality mental health care available to everyone. And as a University of Michigan graduate, he says a hearty, Go Blue!