Your top 10 QUESTIONS answered
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I'M NEW TO COUNSELING-WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
The first step is working together to identify your personal goals, strengths, and motivations for success. I then help tailor a plan with realistic and timeline and actionable steps to achieve your goals. I listen closely to your priorities, values, and unique experiences to help craft a plan with the best chance of success. Your commitment in the counseling process is to show up with an openness to trying on new behaviors or perspectives, to make self-observations, and give honest feedback about what works or not in the process, Carrying forward any insights or lessons learned builds inner wisdom and confidence to support your new, healthier patterns in becoming sustainable long-term. The process of change is not always comfortable, but we work at your pace and within the limits of challenge that work for your life. My job is to maintain a safe, supportive, and productive space, allowing you to connect from your authentic self in order to accomplish the work of real change and growth, to provide encouragement, new tools, or guidance as needed, as well as help you remain focused and accountable to yourself and your goals in the midst of your busy life or any setbacks. The process can help you discover useful and important things about yourself, change unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving, learn healthier, more effective ways of handling stress, anxiety, relationships, decisions, transitions, work, parenting, improve your focus, life balance, overall resilience, well-being and ability to relate compassionately to yourself and others.
ARE OUR CONVERSATIONS CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes-generally, but with specific (generally rare) primary exceptions, listed below. Confidentiality is the foundation of trust between you and any counselor, psychologist, or therapist, so professional ethics rules and laws require that your privacy is strictly protected and not disclosed without your knowledge or permission. However, there are several important, common sense exceptions, including:
- Serious risk or intention of harm to yourself of another person
- Abuse or neglect of a minor, elderly, disabled or any vulnerable person
- Disclosure of exploitation by a mental health professional (your report can be kept anonymous)
When you register as a new client, you will receive a copy of my Privacy Practices disclosure with provides more complete details regarding confidentiality.
WHAT ISSUES DO YOU WORK WITH? ARE THERE ANY ISSUES YOU DON'T WORK WITH?
HOW IS COUNSELING DIFFERENT THAN PSYCHOTHERAPY?
While there is an overlap between counseling and psychotherapy, there are important differences to understand. The words are used often used interchangeably, so can cause confusion. Click to read more about about therapy versus counseling.
DO YOU TAKE MY INSURANCE?
I'm able to work with most insurance plans and can accept payment from your FSA or HSA. If I’m in your health plan’s provider network, I will submit claims directly to your health plan. Even if I’m not a listed provider for your plan, I'm glad to assist with helping you get directly reimbursed using your out-of-network benefits, I can also help your find out what your session cost will be using your insurance before we get started. Click here to view the list of insurers I am currently contracted with in-network
WILL MY HEALTH PLAN PAY FOR MY COUNSELING SESSIONS?
Maybe. Health insurance plans generally require “medical necessity” for services. Medical necessity is defined by your plan, but generally means you have a condition causing significant impairment or dysfunction in some important area of life, such as relationships, work, parenting, health, sleep, mood, and others. If counseling services are covered for the issue you are seeking help for, you typically are responsible only for a co-payment, co-insurance, and any deductible at the time of service. You can find out the details of your coverage and your financial responsibility by calling the Customer Service phone number on the back of your insurance ID card. You can also inquire about whether you have an EAP (employee assistance program) or flexible/health spending account benefits which may help you pay for services even if your plan does not cover your treatment.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF USING MY INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR COUNSELING?
Pros Approximately 50% of people in the U.S. have a mental health disorder over the course of their lifetime, and mental health benefits can help many in affording needed treatment, Health plans have a medical necessity requirement, with a mental health diagnosis required for filing claims. At your first appointment I can help determine if the condition you are seeking help for is likely to be considered medically necessary.
Cons Those who pay for services without using their insurance benefits have the option to prevent any reporting of their condition to their health plan. If privacy of your counseling sessions is a high priority, then this a significant advantage. When applying for life, health, disability, or other insurance, your medical history may be reviewed as part of your qualification and can impact your rates or insurability in some cases. Most insurance plans limit the types of provider and treatment methods for mental health treatment, and sometimes the number of sessions allowed, and may limit the number of providers in their network, thus limiting your treatment options. In cases of audit, to document medical necessity, or to qualify for additional sessions, a treatment review may be required by your health plan in which details about your functioning and treatment are required to be disclosed.
DOES INSURANCE PAY FOR TELEHEALTH/VIDEO COUNSELING SERVICES?
Sometimes. Plan coverage for telehealth video counseling or therapy services varies from plan to plan, so it’s best to call member services at the phone number on your insurance card to get the details. Here are a few tips: I recommend that you use the following wording when inquiring about telehealth coverage—ask if your plan covers "medically necessary outpatient mental health treatment using a HIPAA ("hip-uh")-compliant video-conferencing technology by a licensed service provider." If you do have benefits for telehealth, ask whether special authorization or case management is required, or there are session limits. I also recommend asking for a written copy of any benefits verbally quoted for future reference. Note: If your plan has special requirements for provider location or other requirements, I may not be able to offer telehealth services, even if your plan provides coverage.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE INSURANCE OR CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY OUT OF POCKET?
I understand and respect that counseling or therapy often represent a significant investment in your well-being that is a stretch or even beyond the reach of many. I offer several options and considerations below that may help
- A 15% discount if you pay in full at the time of service
- A discount rate in special circumstances, such as documented temporary financial hardship
- Shorter, or less frequent session, when appropriate
- Setting realistic goals and timeline helps keep your progress and budget on track—many issues respond well within 2 to 12 sessions
- Therapeutic assignments that build momentum between sessions and accelerate progress. Examples include reading articles or books, journaling, practicing new skills, making lists, using tracking or reminder apps, trying new things, reporting progress, keeping a notebook of items to discuss, taking notes during sessions.
- Using evidence-based methods, wherever possible, to ensure effective treatment
DO YOU PRESCRIBE MEDICATIONS OR RECOMMEND ALTERNATIVES SUCH AS HERBS OR SUPPLEMENTS?
Generally, only medical doctors, such as psychiatrists or your primary care physician will prescribe medication for mental health conditions. I can refer you for medical evaluation and treatment if needed. Certain herbs, supplements, and alternative therapies can potentially play a helpful complementary role in mental health treatment. I can provide information on some adjunctive therapies, such as supplements, but can't "prescribe" or recommend them. I can offer information on alternative therapies for which research evidence supports a degree of effectiveness and safety including certain vitamins, "nutraceuticals," and herbs for common issues including anxiety, depression, mood, sleep problems, and others. Alternative medicine approaches such as acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, or other therapies may also provide some benefit for certain conditions, and I can refer you to alternative health providers in some of these areas. In all cases you are advised to further research and consult with your medical provider before starting alternative therapies.