trying to find good quality therapy with medicaid is such a run around!

Hi everyone,

So yesterday afternoon I spent a lot of time running in circles on the phone looking for good therapy, or at least some therapy, that Medicaid accepts. This was mostly for Jess, but I’m in the same situation too as I’m also looking for therapy.

Called Depaul community and family services. Turns out they only take children up to age 18. They only had two referrals for adult therapy. One was C4, which I patiently informed the intake person that C4 isn’t accepting clients anytime in the near future. The other was for northwestern hospital.

I call northwestern. After listening to some nice classical music and the automated voice telling me every few minutes “ your call is important to us,” I got someone on the phone.

Apparently due to there three month waiting list and other reasons, they’re only taking people with a primary care doctor at northwestern, or who live in the downtown area. However they also had referals.

The first was St. Frances hospital behavioral health which is right down the street. Got this woman on the phone. Granted she could have been the receptionist but I decided to ask my questions.

Do they take aetna Medicaid? Yes. (first hoop jumped through)

Do they do therapy with adults, give our ages. Yes (second hoop jumped through)

Do any of the therapists work with self-injury?

“self-injury? Ummm I don’t know. What’s going on?”

“The person has a history of self injury. It’s not the whole issue but she’d absolutely need someone comfortable with it.”

“Oh cutting!” (High pitched voice.”


“Oh yeah we have therapists that can do that.”

(ok maybe?)

Do they do DBT or art therapy? No. (sigh)

Well better than nothing.

On to Evanston hospital also right down the street. Went through the procedure of calling listening to happy music and hearing that my call is important and then getting a stressed intake worker Julie. I only got through my first question do you guys take aetna Medicaid? When she told me that you would have to call a whole different number, the community access line, where the patient would have to answer specific questions (as in I suppose I couldn’t call on their behalf at that point I was too tired to try). And then they may or may not be directed to therapist actually in the Evanston hospital behavioral health department. I was very confused about this because at one point she said they’d be refered to some other organization and then she said it could possibly be people there so I’m not sure if the therapists themselves take Medicaid or why you would need to call a different number specifically for Medicaid patients.

I then went on to the aetna Medicaid website. Be cause the thing is so inaccessible I could only enter in my city and zip. To select specialty and other info you have to hit thisz link that says select but no box comes up. Writing to them has not helped. So I ended up just hiting search for Evanston. Having to scroll through all the results, all the internal medical doctors, other specialists, psychiatrists ETC. It was cool to see Friedman Place and Albany Care cdome up as results.

I found a few people. A couple had websites. None said anything specifically about self injury.

Sigh. It’s just so hard. Especially knowing if we weren’t dealing with Medicaid this would be so easy. Just go on psychology and hit the self harm specialty and then Chicago. There are so many therapists who use DBT and other modalities to work with this issue. There is an awesome sounding outpatient program with a company called Insights, that deals directly with mood disorders, eating disorders, and self injury. Edith called them once. She said they were the nicest people unfortunately no Medicaid.

There’s some weird law in IL a couple of private practice people have told me about, where an individual practitioner can’t take Medicaid or something. Why these few individual therapists were on the aetna site I don’t know. I bet if I were to ask them they wouldn’t even know their listed! That happens too. Someone literally has no idea they’re info ended up online which is wicked amusing.

Anyway this isn’t the case in Massachusetts. All kinds of therapists can apply for mass health. It’s not perfect and you sure get more options if you have other insurance or private pay but it’s better than here in some ways. In other ways not so much because IL and I believe California, are the only states that offer the psychiatric intermediate care facilities, which I keep saying in spite of their ups and downs, are really good services for those that need them.

So yeah just frustrated. By the lack of options, waiting lists and just in general you call other places and you can tell they really don’t care at all that they don’t take Medicaid and that you can’t see anyone, possibly.

What’s more frustrating is this other wonderful IL policy that says that a free standing behavioral health hospital can’t take Medicaid.

Alexian brothers behavioral hospital I have heard mixed reviews about I admit. However they do have one of a handful of centers specifically for the treatment of self injury. And recently wrote an awesome book. Talking to them about getting this book on Kindle, and later I requested it be on bookshare which it is, they’re pretty nice people.

I was very disappointed to learn that they can’t accept Medicaid. They actually seemed disappointed too. Actually it’s really confusing and frustrating because they actually do accept Medicaid for children up to 18. Over 18 though they can’t accept it.

It would be awesome to be able to work with an individual therapist who really understands the complexities of self injury as it relates to the whole picture of someone’s mental illness which could include: trauma, eating disorders, mood disorders ETC. They have a wonderful partial hospital program with a variety of groups including goals, DBT, process groups, expressive arts ETC. It’s just the thing I and Jess, for different reasons, both really need. But it’s inaccessible.

It’s so hard to know that due to the limits of insurance you’re left with so few options for care and often have to take what you can get even if it’s short term, more surface skills based therapy, (which sucks in my opinion because it doesn’t address the root causes of the issues in a long term trusting relationship with the therapist.) or see someone that doesn’t have specific training/ experience with your issue. Also money is an issue. When I had all my SSI check I was able to see some different therapists that I couldn’t have seen otherwise. I wish back then I could have used my insurance more, had thought of it instead of paying out of pocket. Especially with this really emotionally unethical therapist I saw for three years but that’s another story. Anyway back then I was under my parent’s insurance, tufts, as well as masshealth. I feel that if I were to come back to MA I probably would have more outpatient options than here or it seems that way. However I’d lose the stable living situation designed for my psychiatric needs with at least some ok services. So it’s a toss up.

Thoughts on similar experiences with finding services on Medicaid for mental health? What has helped/ worked for you?


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