Attending therapy can be intimidating and questions about the process may arise, especially if you have not had therapy before. Below are some frequently asked questions, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions or would like more details.
How do I know it is time to see a therapist?
If you are reading this, something internally has probably told you it is time to see a therapist. People describe feeling stuck, overwhelmed, not liking the way their lives are going in the moment, needing to make a change, and sometimes people feel that there is nowhere else to turn. At times, it may be a need to do something different, which can be empowering when feeling like you do not have control over your life. For some, it is due to family members or friends that encourage them to get professional support.
Why should I talk to a therapist? Why not a friend or family member?
Family and friends can be an extremely beneficial support system during difficult times. Family and friends often mean well, but already are emotionally connected to you and may offer advice, feedback, or judgments that may not be helpful to the situation at hand. Additionally, they want to maintain the relationship with you and may be supporting you while sparing your feelings in the process. A therapist has professional training to help you manage difficult life circumstances and does so in a way that creates a safe space without judgment so that you can explore your feelings, thoughts, or inner experiences without worrying about the impact of what you are expressing on someone you care about. My clients have told me they have shared things that they have never revealed to their spouse, parents, or siblings.
What should I expect at the first session?
I will begin the session by explaining what to expect and review some policies that are important as we begin our work together. I will ask you to tell me things about you, such as what brings you into treatment, past experiences that you think are important, and goals you would like to achieve in the future. Sometimes it is helpful to think of what you want to be different in your life and this can help you to identify the goals you want to achieve. At the end of the session, I will answer any questions you have. I will explain my ideas on how we can work together on the goals you identified already and hope to share these ideas and help you develop healthy skills and build upon abilities you already have, but may not recognize or be using to your best advantage. If you would like to continue the process, we will schedule another appointment. It is important to know that you do not have to share everything in the first session and you will guide how much or little you share and how fast or slow the process will be.
How long will therapy last?
Individual therapy sessions last 50 minutes per session. How often we meet will be discussed in the initial session. In terms of length of therapy, it is different for everyone. Some people come in for 4-6 sessions and some people come in for a year or more. It really depends on what you want to achieve in therapy, how frequently you are coming in, and other factors influencing your life at the time. As we move through treatment, I will check in with you to ensure that if you feel we are moving too fast or too slow, so that we can make adjustments along the way. Keep in mind, sometimes you may not want to come to treatment and change is difficult for everyone. I ask that you make every effort to participate fully in the treatment by coming to sessions, being honest about sharing your thoughts, feelings, and frustrations, and staying the course, even if you feel at times our work is challenging.
How do I know if therapy is covered by my insurance?
Navigating your insurance plan can be difficult. If you plan to use your insurance benefits, it is important for you to be well informed about your coverage and understand your out of pocket costs.
It may be helpful to call the number on the back of your card to inquire about your benefits. Below is a list of questions you may consider asking:
- Do I have a co-pay or co-insurance?
- Do I have a deductible and if so, has it been met?
- Is there out of network reimbursement?
- How many sessions per year are covered?
- What month does the coverage end or begin?
- Is a referral required for mental health treatment?
- Does my insurance cover Telemental Health services?
- Is pre-approval or "prior authorization" required for any services?
What is Telemental Health?
There is much more hype over Telemental Health services lately. Many insurance plans are now covering Telemental Health due to the benefits associated with the service. Chapter 224 of the Massachusetts Acts of 2012, Blue Cross defines telemedicine as the use of interactive audio, video, or other electronic media for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation, or treatment. Collective Counseling Center, LLC provides telemental health through video conferencing over a secure HIPAA compliant platform. Services are delivered in real time communication between the client and provider. There are many benefits and risk to using Telemental Health, which will be explained to you if you choose to utilize this tool. Feel free to reach out for more information!
What if I do not want to go through my insurance?
Some individuals choose to pay out of pocket rather than use their insurance coverage. If you prefer to pay out of pocket, my fee for individual counseling is $140.00 per 50 minute session and $175.00 for the 60 minute initial intake session. For couples counseling, my fee is $160.00 for 60 minute session and $200.00 for the 60 minute initial intake session. I accept cash, check, and credit cards.
There are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing to self-pay versus go through your insurance. When going through insurance, the insurance companies requires “medical necessity,” meaning that I need to provide a diagnosis to submit our sessions for reimbursement. Your insurance company may ask for information about the symptoms you are experiencing in order to decide which treatments are covered for reimbursement. When using your insurance, there can also be restrictions placed on treatment, which may be frequency of treatment, amount of sessions covered per year, or types of treatment. Those who choose the self-pay option say they have peace of mind in terms of confidentiality and having more control over how their information is used. For additional information on confidentiality, please see the next question.
How do I ensure you will keep my information confidential?
Confidentiality and privacy are extremely important, especially with the sensitive nature of therapy. When we meet in person, I will provide a detailed description of confidentiality and how your information will be protected and maintained under the HIPAA laws. If there is anyone that you would like to participate in your treatment, I will then ask you to sign a Release of Information. Another consideration in relation to privacy and confidentiality is related to insurance reimbursement. Insurance payment requires “medical necessity,” meaning that I need to provide a diagnosis to submit our sessions for reimbursement. Your insurance company may ask for information about the symptoms you are experiencing in order to decide which treatments are covered for reimbursement. The diagnosis and your symptoms are protected health information, though it is important to understand how your information is used.
What if I don't feel connected to my therapist?
The relationship between you and your therapist is a very important aspect of the therapeutic process. If you do not feel a connection to your therapist, it is best to discuss this with your therapist in session. Do not worry about hurt feelings, as all therapists understand the importance of the therapeutic relationship and it is not possible to connect with every person. At times it may take a few visits to know if you feel connected, but if you continue therapy without feeling connected or leave prematurely without being connected to someone else you may miss out on a valuable growth experience. If you feel that we are not hitting it off, please let me know your concerns and if we cannot work through them, I will do my best to find someone that will be a good match for you.
What is the difference between a therapist, counselor, or clinician?
Often the terms therapist, counselor, and clinician are used interchangeably to represent someone who is professionally trained to help with mental health conditions. Professional representation often varies state to state. The professional programs also vary depending on the discipline. In Massachusetts, the Division of Public Licensure tracks licensing requirements and provides public records that you can look up to determine whether the professional you choose is a licensed professional. Additionally, each discipline practices under a code of ethics. For Social Workers like myself, we abide by the National Alliance of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.
Can a therapist prescribe medications?
LICSWs, LPCs, LMHC, and LMFTs are all professionally trained to assist you with your emotional difficulties. Psychiatrists and Advanced Practitioner Registered Nurses (APRNs) are qualified and trained to prescribe medications. If you are interested in medication management in addition to therapy, I can help connect you to someone who can provide a recommendation for medication management options.
Are you available 24/7 or in the event of a crisis?
The highest priority in treatment is your safety. As an outpatient, private practice therapist I am not available or reachable 24/7. If you find you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, please call 911. The National Suicide Prevention line is 1-800-273-8255, which is also staffed 24/7. In Massachusetts, you can also call the Emergency Program Services number at 1-877-382-1609 and enter your zipcode and they will provide you with the local mobile crisis.
Can I bring my child with me?
My office is baby friendly, which means you are welcome to bring babies that can remain in your arms. For various reasons, including your child's safety and for you to obtain the most out of your appointment, it is recommended that you secure childcare for your older children.
Is your office handicap accessible?
Yes, there is an elevator, handicap accessible parking, and restroom access throughout the building.
What if I decide I don't want to attend therapy right now?
Attending therapy is a personal decision and up to you. Therapy involves effort and can be challenging at times. If you have any concerns about therapy or the treatment process, please discuss your concerns at the initial session with me so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you would like to continue therapy. If you decide that therapy is not for you at this time, that is okay. It is empowering to know you have started to build a relationship, you know your options for support, and in the future if you feel you could benefit from therapy then you have someone you can reach out to.
I know someone who needs help. Can I refer a friend or colleague?
My practice is built on referrals, so you are more than welcome to refer a friend or colleague that is in need of services. Depending on the circumstances, some referrals may present a conflict of interest. If I feel there is a conflict of interest in seeing your referral, I will do my best to find another therapist that could be a good match for the person you have referred.
What if I still am unsure or have more questions about the process?
This means you are human! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a complimentary phone consultation. I would be happy to answer your questions and provide more details.