Counseling services at the Georgia Tech Counseling Center are free to enrolled students in a degree-seeking program. However, sometimes a student's needs may be better served by a referral, or some students may prefer a referral.
This guide is intended for current clients of the Georgia Tech Counseling Center, and is designed to be used in the context of a consultation with one of our counselors. Outside of this context, this material is provided for informational purposes only and does not imply the formation of a professional relationship with the reader nor a specific recommendation of any of these services.
This guide contains the following information:
(1) General advice about how to find appropriate professionals
(2) If you have insurance, how to determine what it covers and how to access it
(3) Information about the Georgia Tech Student Health Insurance (StudentBlue)
(4) A list of providers of lower-cost counseling services
(5) A list of providers of lower-cost psychiatric services
(6) Recommendations for clients with substance abuse or dependence issues
We recommend that you seek mental health services only from a licensed professional (or from a graduate-level trainee under the direct supervision of a licensed professional). In the state of Georgia, one may search for licensed professionals on the website of the Secretary of State.
Professionals who provide counseling (aka psychotherapy) include: licensed psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists. Psychologists are doctoral-level trained professionals and have either a PhD degree or a PsyD degree. Social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists are masters-level trained professionals. Social workers academic degree is typically the MSW, and their Georgia state license designation is either Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Counselors typically have a MS (Masters of Science in Counseling) degree, and their licensure designation is LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). Marriage and family therapists’ often have a MS degree and their licensure designation is LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist).
Professionals who prescribe medication include primary care physicians and psychiatrists (physicians who specialize in mental health) (both types of professionals typically have a MD degree). You can check for licensure status with the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
Referral databases for counselors
If you are looking for a counselor with a particular specialty, the major professional associations have online referral databases that you can search, including:
Other searchable databases include:
Selecting a professional
We suggest that you develop a short list of counselors (perhaps 3), and then interview them by phone before selecting one. Suggested questions to ask a prospective therapist: Are you accepting new clients? What are your fees? Do you accept my insurance? If relevant: Do you have a “sliding scale” for people with limited income?. What is your education, training, experience, and licensure status? How do you tend to work with clients, in general and with (your specific problem)? What can you tell me about your experience with (your specific problem)?
Continuity of care
After you meet with a counselor for the “initial consultation,” the counselor writes an “initial consultation report,” which is typically a 2-page summary of your concerns, any background information collected, and clinical recommendations. This report could potentially be useful to the professional whom you will begin working with. It also could save both of you some time because the professional wouldn’t have to start at the very beginning. With your written permission, we can send copy of the report to your chosen professional.
Step 1. Obtain your benefits booklet. This document will explain your coverage, the amount of your deductible and co-pay, and the procedures for accessing your services. Often, one can obtain this booklet by going to the insurance company’s website. Typically, you will need to create an online account. If you are unable to access your benefits booklet online or have questions, call the number on your insurance card.
Step 2. Review your benefits booklet to determine whether you have coverage for “behavioral health,” “mental health,” (or if applicable) “substance abuse” services. Note the following variables: How many sessions of outpatient treatment are allowed per year? What is the deductible and co-pay? What is the procedure for accessing services?
Step 3. Identify the “Network(s)” of service providers who have been approved by your company. Some insurance companies will only pay for providers who are in their network; other companies may provide coverage for providers who are “out of network,” but will require the covered individual to make a higher co-pay.
Step 4. Search for an appropriate provider. Typically, insurance company websites have a search function that allows you to search based on provider type and a certain radius around your location. Mental health professionals who provide counseling include psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, and marriage & family therapists. If you are interested in considering medication, you will want to search for psychiatrists. If a website search function is not available, or if you are not finding the information you desire, call your insurance company and tell them what you are looking for.
Step 5. Most insurance company databases offer little information about their providers beyond name, degree, and contact information. This can make it difficult to narrow the list down to the most appropriate providers. You can attempt to obtain more information about the providers on your list from one or more of the databases described above. You can also send your counselor the provider list to see if they are able to make any recommendations.
Information about the student health insurance (StudentBlue) can be found on the health insurance page of the Stamps Health Service and at the StudentBlue website. You may search for an in-network professional by using your member ID or the following terms: State = Georgia; Plan Type = POS; Plan Name: Blue Open Access POS.
If you do not have insurance coverage and/or your finances are limited, there are several possibilities for obtaining counseling at a lower cost. Some professionals may be willing to lower their standard fee based on the client’s ability to pay (often called a “sliding scale”). Also, there are several university-based centers and private practice agencies that offer reduced rates. If you do not have a car, five of these agencies are easily accessible by public transportation, and one is within walking distance from campus.
Private practice agencies
Community Mental Health
The Georgia Tech Stamps Health Service Psychiatry Clinic offers lower-cost psychiatric services to Georgia Tech Students.
Other sources for lower-cost psychiatric services are listed below, all of which are accessible by public transportation.
This section is for current clients of the Georgia Tech Counseling Center who either: (1) are engaging in substance abuse or are substance dependent; or (2) are in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse or dependence. It provides the rationale for treatment recommendations that we often make for clients with these issues, as well as links to resources and services we may recommend. Our specific recommendations for each client are individualized and are based upon research, clinical judgment, and professional consultation.
General recommendations for clients who are substance dependent
Clients who are substance dependent (see definition) are best served by a referral to a specialized service provider who can fully assess the client’s needs and offer a programmed set of customized services. These may involve a period of hospitalization for detoxification and stabilization, followed by partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient services, and participation in a recovery support group. Examples of Atlanta area providers that offer these services include Ridgeview Institute and Peachford Hospital.
General recommendations for clients engaging in substance abuse
We know from research and experience that substance abuse (see definition) often contributes significantly to the other problems clients may be experiencing, and that if substance abuse is not addressed it often undermines other mental health interventions, including counseling and medication. For these reasons, it is imperative that we fully evaluate the extent of the substance abuse and its effects on the client’s life, and make appropriate recommendations for adequately addressing the substance abuse.
Treatment recommendations for clients diagnosed with substance abuse varies according a variety of factors, including the extent and duration of the problem, the severity of the risks involved, other life stressors, and the client’s motivation for change. Recommendations might include partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient services, a recovery support group, and/or educational services.
The Georgia Tech Counseling Center offers generalist counseling, but does not provide some of the services that are appropriate for clients with substance abuse. Many clients are often best served by a referral to a provider who can offer comprehensive and integrated substance abuse treatment and counseling. Examples of such referrals include Ridgeview and Peachford (mentioned above) or private practitioners skilled in assisting with substance abuse recovery. In some cases, the counseling center may be able to appropriately offer counseling services to clients who are willing to stop using substances and participate in recommended activities such as participation in an educational program or a recovery support group.
General recommendations for clients in the early stages of recovery
Clients who are in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse, particularly those who choose to continue using substances, are at high risk for relapse. For this reason, it is critical that their needs for maintaining recovery be appropriately addressed. Often we recommend that clients participate in an educational program and/or a recovery support group. Clients who are willing to stop abusing substances and participate in recommended activities that support recovery may be appropriate for counseling services at the counseling center.
Prime for Life is an excellent educational program for Georgia Tech students offered by the Department of Health Promotion at the Georgia Tech Stamps Student Health Service. This program helps participants estimate the risks associated with their substance use, and provides a range of research-based, low-risk guidelines that reduce the risk of alcohol or drug related health or impairment problems. It is an 8 hour program that is presented in two 4 hour sessions and is free to Georgia Tech students who voluntarily participate. For more information, call 404-894-9980.
Many recovery support groups are offered in the Atlanta metro area. We sometimes encourage clients to attend at least one meeting to learn more about the recovery process and potential resources for assisting in it. Support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (also see Atlanta AA), Narcotics Anonymous, or a variety of non-12-step programs including SMART Recovery.
Other sources for referral information
Community mental health / Substance abuse service providers