What is counseling and how do I know if I need it?
Counseling, also called therapy or psychotherapy, is the process of meeting with a professional to resolve problematic beliefs, thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. It can be individual counseling to change destructive behaviors and habits or resolve painful feelings, family counseling to improve communication and relationships, or group counseling to improve interaction and provide support. Some common reasons people consider counseling are feelings of unhappiness, anxiety, or distress in a way that interferes in every-day life, facing a transition, or experiencing a loss. A good rule of thumb is if you're asking yourself this question, you may already have your answer.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist and a counselor/therapist?
A psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) who has graduated from a medical school, where they focused on general medicine. They then completed a 3-4 year residency, specializing in psychiatry. For the most part, the preform psychiatric evaluations for the purpose of determining the need for treatment with medications. If so determined, the psychiatrist prescribes the medications and then follows the patient for medication management.
A psychologist is a clinician who holds a Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.). They must have 5-6 years of graduate work studying psychology, 1-2 years of internship, and 1-2 years of supervised clinical work experience before qualifying for the right to sit for the licensing examination. A psychologist does not prescribe medication. Instead, they provide psychotherapy through an extensive knowledge of psychological theory, therapy, research and diagnostic testing. Psychologists also specialize in psychological testing and are the only group of clinicians trained to do so.
Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC’s) hold Masters degrees in counseling. They have 2 years of graduate training and 1-2 years of supervised work experience. LMHC’s provide counseling to individuals, families and groups. They can partner with or refer to a psychiatrist if medication is needed for treatment.
How do I choose the right counselor?
This is an important and personal decision. The counselor you see should have relevant experience and expertise for your difficulty and goals. Please peruse our counselors section for their individual education, experience, and specialties. Beyond that, the relationship is the most important factor in an effective, rewarding counseling experience. You should truly feel comfortable with and trust your counselor as you need to feel safe sharing with them. It is your choice who you decide to work with and we have multiple counselors on staff you may try if you so choose.
What will my first appointment be like?
Upon arriving at the office for your first counseling appointment, you may be asked to sign in. You'll be given an intake packet containing information regarding our policies and privacy practices for you to read over and sign to acknowledge that you accept them. It will also include a form for you to give consent for us to bill your insurance if you have so chosen. You will also be asked to fill out a biographical form with personal, medical, and family history. We will make a copy of your ID and insurance card for our records. Your first session with the counselor will be used for the two of you to get to know each other. They may tell you about their counseling style and experience and background. They'll ask you about your presenting condition and symptoms, as well as your relevant history. You'll discuss your reasons for seeking counseling and what your goals are. At the end, you'll discuss if and when you'd like to come back and your counselor will recommend how often. Think of the first session as an introduction and a chance for you to begin a connection with your counselor. You should feel safe, respected, and comfortable, however, keep in mind that it may take some time. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a trusting relationship with your counselor.
At the end of the session, your counselor will accompany you out to the front where payment will be collected and another appointment can be scheduled. Your concerns will most likely not be dealt with in one session, so it is important that you continue to see your counselor regularly based on what was discussed.
How much does therapy cost?
Our rate is $150.00 per 1 hour session. We accept many of the major insurance companies. If you decide to use insurance, your fee will depend on your specific policy and coverage. For those who do not have insurance, we offer a sliding-scale fee that is an adjustment of the fee based on a gross yearly income less than $70,000. Please contact the office from more information on our sliding-scale fee. You may also choose to use an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for a limited number of free sessions. Please contact your employer for more information on EAPs. It is customary to pay for services when they are rendered.
What insurance do you accept?
We currently have counselors accepting plans from the the majority of insurance companies.
Unfortunately, we are currently not able to accept Medicaid or Medicare Advantage programs.
Upon calling our office, you will be asked what insurance company you have. We will then refer you to a specific therapist who works with your presenting problem and is also covered by your insurance. We will take care of filing the claim to your insurance company. Please be aware that as there are so many insurance companies with numerous plans, a particular therapist may be on one plan covered by your insurance company and may not be on another. Also, your particular insurance policy may not offer benefits for mental health services. It is recommended that you check with your insurance company about your individual benefits before scheduling.
For more in-depth information on insurance coverage for mental health services, the APA has a useful guide you can find here.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require 24 hours notice for cancellations, unless an emergency. Should you need to cancel within 24 hours of your appointment, a late cancellation fee of $35 will be added to your account. There will be a charge to your account of $65 for a "no-show", or not coming to your appointment without giving us prior notice. The rates for the Psychiatrist & ARNP is a fee of $85 for a late cancellation and $125 for a no show fee unless it is a 1st time appointment, the fees are increased to $325 for a no show appointment for your initial consultation. Voice mail is available to take messages if we are not in the office.
How will my information be used and protected?
Your Protected Health Information (PHI) includes any personal information you provide to use and any notes or records made by your counselor. The HIPAA law requires us to keep your PHI private and to give you notice of our privacy practices. You may read our practices in full here. We only share your PHI with your knowledge and consent unless otherwise required by law.
You can always call our office at (407) 423-3327 and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.