Questions for a Mental Health Agency
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This fact sheet will help families who have a child with mental health or behavioral health challenges as they look for therapy or counseling services for their child. After working with your child’s primary care doctor to get a list of potential agencies, use the questions below to help find the right provider for your child. If you need help finding providers contact Well Badger Resource Center at 1-800-642-7837.
When you call a provider agency, you should be prepared to answer a number of intake questions. This will include telling them about your child’s current diagnoses and behaviors. Then you can ask the following:
❖ What services does your agency provide?
Agencies offer a range of services which may include: individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy or specialized therapy. Some agencies offer cognitive/behavioral therapy, like Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. They may also have support groups or other informal programs.
❖ Are there any age limits for services?
Some programs serve only adults so make sure you check that the agency serves your child’s age group.
❖ I have insurance; does your agency accept that?
This is a critically important question to ask before your first appointment! You do not want to wait for a visit only to find out that the provider does not accept your insurance or is not in your provider network. If your child is covered by Medicaid it is VERY important that you make sure the agency accepts Medicaid.
If your child has both private insurance and Medicaid, you should let the agency know. In most cases private insurance will be billed first and Medicaid will cover the cost of your co-pays or other costs not covered by private insurance.
❖ Do I need a referral from my child’s doctor to be seen?
A referral is an order from a primary care doctor to see a specialist or get certain medical services. If a referral is not in place the health plan may not cover the cost of the visit. To learn about other coverage questions see the Family Voices fact sheet “Questions to Ask My Insurance Plan.”
After the first few therapy appointments, if you don’t feel comfortable with the provider or are not sure he or she is a good fit for your child, you can ask to meet with one of the other providers at the same agency.
❖ When and where will my child be seen?
Make sure the agency is in a place that is convenient for your family. Keep in mind that you may be going often. Some agencies have multiple locations so find the one that works best. Consider parking, public transportation and other factors that may make it easier or harder to get to appointments. Ask what days and times of day appointments are available. For example, some providers may offer evening appointments.