Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from a counseling session with you?
No two clients will ever be given the same, “prescriptive” services. I tailor my counseling strategies to the unique needs and personality styles of each individual. My therapy sessions run for 50 minutes, and you will have my undivided attention during this time. Some people need to come to counseling weekly, while others may need to come once or twice a month. Following an initial intake session where we thoroughly discuss your background and needs, we will develop a treatment plan. This plan is always amenable to change. If you’ve never been to counseling before, try to imagine sitting in the living room of an old friend. Therapy is often as simple as a conversation. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry, sometimes you ask questions and sometimes you give answers. My goal is to make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe to work on issues causing trouble for you.
What should I expect from a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation with you?
As with my counseling services, no two evaluations are ever the same. I am thorough in gathering background information together with your help, conducting observations in both the counseling and naturalistic settings if possible, and selecting instruments which are sensitive to the cultural backgrounds and specific needs of my clients. I am careful to try and rule out other disorders which may “look like” the area of concern. For example, some doctors and therapists may only look at ADHD when a parent comes to them with concerns about inattention, distractibility, and difficulty with work completion. I know firsthand that these symptoms, while at first glance may seem indicative of ADHD, may be a sign of a different issue (e.g., anxiety, learning difficulties, processing difficulties, to name a few). Think of it this way: if you went to your physician with a stomachache, the goal should be for the doctor to perform a comprehensive exam. While it’s possible that you have something as benign as indigestion, your doctor should ask plenty of questions, or even perform some diagnostic assessments in his office for other concerns. This may lead to further testing such as labwork or x-rays, and you may find out that your stomach pains may actually be radiating from your chest and are due to your heart! In a similar way, it is my goal to ensure that my evaluations take a comprehensive approach.
Do you take Insurance?
I provide services to clients on a self-pay basis only. At first glance, use of insurance may seem beneficial, as it may lower your out-of-pocket costs. However, there are significant downfalls to the use of insurance when it comes to mental health services.
First, insurance companies do NOT see you as an individual with needs that are unique. In order to be eligible for services with insurance, you must be given a diagnosis. In certain cases, you may just need help navigating your current life or family circumstances, such as help with parenting, communication between you and your child, or assistance with typical grief reactions; this does not in my opinion necessitate me diagnosing you with a “disorder”, per se. Once given a diagnosis, the insurance companies dictate that treatment goals focus on your diagnosis, not necessarily on the many other factors which may have brought you to therapy in the first place.
Second, insurance companies dictate session frequency and length. In some cases, they provide you with only a handful of sessions, and have the right to terminate services at any time for various reasons. As the client, this leaves you suddenly without mental health care, sometimes without notice. In terms of session length, although my sessions are typically 50 minutes, I have had circumstances where a family needed more time with me, and with self-pay, I am able to offer this option. When utilizing insurance, your session lengths are pre-determined and neither you nor I have control over that.
Finally, with self-pay, I can assure you that your records and information are completely safe and held in strictest confidence. With insurance, your mental health (and required diagnosis for treatment coverage) become part of your medical record. This may have an effect on future medical coverage or even life insurance coverage, and aspects of your health record may be accessible by other agencies. With self-pay, your records stay with me only, and are not shared except in the case of your express written consent, or in cases protected by law (e.g., your safety or the safety of others is at risk).
The most effective treatment occurs when both you and I can coordinate and determine your services together and make any decisions necessary to promote success; not when a managed care company dictates the decisions we make.
What is your Cancellation Policy?
Your therapy or evaluation appointment has been set just for you. I request that my clients provide me with a minimum of 48 hours prior to canceling an appointment, as it is often difficult to fill an appointment slot once it has been canceled. Failure to cancel a minimum of 48 hours in advance will result in a charge to you for the usual hourly fee.
What Should I Bring to My First Session?
Forms for our initial session together will be emailed directly to you upon scheduling an appointment. Please print off and complete these forms prior to our initial session together so that we can focus our time together on discussion rather than on completing and reviewing forms.