Looking for SF-based therapists: how's United Behavioral Health?
September 23, 2013 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for therapists in San Francisco and I just found out that I'm covered under United Behavioral Health. I'm wondering if people've had any experience seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist through them, and how I might go about finding someone in their provider directory who'd a good match for me. I'd also really appreciate any recommendations for therapists in SF who take UBH.

I'm asking this question partly because I haven't been able to find *anything* out there about subjective experiences people have had with United Behavioral Health (not United Health -- I have Kaiser for my medical insurance). My UBH plan seems to offer pretty good coverage, and apparently a heck of a lot of people out there are covered by it, but I can't seem to find stuff like reviews or blog posts or anything at all, really, about the logistics of what it's actually like to be covered by UBH, which strikes me as kind of... odd.

I've seen a therapist before, but this will be my first time involving insurance in the process, and it looks like my choice of providers will be a little more limited this time. So, I'm also wondering how I would best navigate UBH's directory of providers; under which criteria do I pick and choose when I really have no way to compare between therapists? Some therapists have websites, and some have Yelp reviews written on them, but those are, by far, more the exception than the rule. I imagine I could ask my PCP for a referral, but my PCP is a Kaiser doc, and Kaiser's options for in-house therapy seem pretty limited, so I dunno; she certainly wouldn't be able to work with or have much experience with my UBH plan.

Anyway, maybe this is kinda a long shot, but if any SF-based Mefites'd be able to recommend to me any particularly good people (either therapist or psychiatrist OK) to see for anxiety/mild depression, and who also happen to take UBH, I'd really appreciate it :)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One thing I've done in the past when using insurance to pay for therapy is to ask a health professional--a doctor or a therapist who has been highly recommended to me but is not in-network for me--if they could look at my insurance's list of in-network therapists (which I either print out and give to them, or e-mail them a PDF of if I'm not meeting them in person) and let me know who they know and can recommend off of that list. The people I've asked this of have been happy to do this and have generally been able to come up with a few names for me. Best of luck in your search, and I'm glad you're looking for help!
posted by beryllium at 7:38 AM on September 23, 2013

I looked through the list from what looked like the UBH webpage and saw over 500 names! (I got there by going from this, to the Find a Clinician link) If that's the right list, it doesn't seem very limited.

I saw some people I have worked with or known over the years. I'd prefer to MeMail them to you rather than post them, but since you're anonymous, I can't. Do you mind MeMailing me?

If you don't feel comfortable MeMailing me, don't worry about it. The fact that I've known these people doesn't say anything about the others on the list, or about whether any of these people I know would be right for you. Not knowing anything about you, it's hard to have any criteria about who to suggest - so much of a good relationship with a therapist is the "fit," which is pretty hard to quantify.

My suggestion is to take the list you have and use any criteria you like (e.g., therapist gender, neighborhood) to cull it down. Call around, and see if you can spend 5 minutes on the phone with people. Explain broadly the circumstances you are in and ask some questions about how they might work with someone with issues like that. Listen very carefully to what they say, expecially to their tone as they answer. The ones where you feel right, go ahead and make an appointment to meet, and see how it goes.

FWIW, I wouldn't recommend giving weight to Yelp reviews for therapists.
posted by jasper411 at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2013

I can't speak to your finding the therapist who's best for you (though jasper411's link above is the best place to start with UBH). I can tell you about being a UBH patient, though.

You, my friend, are a pretty lucky person. You don't need a referral for mental health care, and you don't need to call UBH to be preapproved. Just call up a doctor -- master's level through MD level -- and make an appointment. The first three appointments of the year are free, so you can visit three different docs if you'd like to see who fits you best. After that, there's a copay. (Mine's $20; don't know if it varies by employer.)

I've never had ANY hassle with the insurance company. Ever. Maybe I've been particularly lucky, dunno. In any case, I don't have a single complaint about UBH, and I'm glad you've discovered that you're covered by it.

I have also (briefly) used Kaiser's MH services, and swore them off. UBH is much, much better for this particular thing.

If you have any further questions, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:20 PM on September 23, 2013

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