This section includes some frequently asked questions many people have before attending their first session:
Q: Who will answer my phone call or email message?
A: I personally respond to all phone calls and emails, usually by the next business day. I do not normally return calls in the evening or over a weekend. Given the porous nature of electronic communications technology, I cannot guarantee the confidentiality of email correspondence to me.
Q: What will my first appointment consist of?
A: Your first appointment will be a consultation visit lasting approximately 55-60 minutes, in which you and I will discuss the problems you are having. At the end of this initial evaluation meeting, I will propose a treatment plan for you, based upon your needs, initial goals and situation. If I do not feel that I am the appropriate clinician for your situation, I will offer you names of qualified professionals with whom you may choose to work.
Q: Do you take insurance?
A: Yes. I am an approved provider for Presbyterian, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Lovelace, GEHA, Cigna, and Medicare. I also work with some insurance companies as an out-of-network provider. If I am not an approved provider for your health plan, I will be happy to help you file for reimbursement from your insurance carrier. Under this arrangement, you will first need to contact your insurance company to determine your particular policy’s coverage for behavioral-health treatment by “out-of-network providers.” Generally, insurance companies reimburse anywhere from 40% to 100% percent of an “allowable” fee depending on your plan and deductible. You would then pay my fee at the time of service and submit to your insurance carrier the “superbill” with which I will provide you. Your carrier will reimburse you directly according to your policy coverage.
Q: How long are all subsequent sessions?
A: Each following session is 55 minutes long. Most patients attend sessions on a weekly basis in the beginning, in order to build up a momentum of change but others opt to attend sessions twice a month. We can discuss the best schedule for you during our first consultation.
Q: How long will I need to be in therapy?
A: The length of your treatment depends on the issues that you want to address. After our first meeting, in which I will assess your situation, I will offer an initial treatment plan with the suggestion that we review your progress and satisfaction after several sessions. I am often unable to accurately estimate the length of your therapy, as I am not in control of all factors that may impact the course of your treatment. Some clients report feeling better after a few sessions; others find that their needs or goals change as they progress, which changes the treatment plan. As you create the changes you are seeking, you and I will discuss options for completing treatment, which may include a formal termination or a gradual tapering-off over several months in order to monitor the stability of the changes you have experienced. This decision will be made primarily by you, according to your comfort and preference.
Q: I heard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy emphasizes homework. Can you describe exactly what homework is?
A: Therapy is not a process that takes place solely during our time together. Noticeable change often takes place outside of the session, as a result of your applying new ideas or behaviors to your life and noticing the results. Although I usually do not assign formal “homework,” I offer suggestions for ideas or strategies for you to “test-drive”during the period between sessions, in order to maximize the effect of our work together. Homework may consist of suggested reading, self-observation such as tracking your moods, thoughts, or behaviors on paper, or changing certain patterns of communication with others. These suggestions are, of course, optional. However, your rate of progress is likely to be greatly influenced by the amount of between-session skills practice or application of new ideas.
Q: Is what I share with my therapist confidential?
A: Your confidentiality is protected by state and federal law and by the rules of my profession. All information concerning patients is held confidential and is released only through procedures consistent with the law and professional ethics. Certain exceptions to this confidentiality are mandated by law to ensure your own or others’ safety; these exceptions are described in my informed consent form available through the “Forms” link.
Q: What if I think I need to be evaluated for medications or I am already taking prescribed medication?
A: I am trained and licensed to practice psychology, not medicine, and I do not have prescription privileges. However, with your written permission, I will consult with your physician or psychiatrist in order to ensure coordinated care. I will also help you to locate a qualified physician in the event that a medications evaluation or other medical consultation appears to be appropriate.
Q: How will I know if I’m getting better?
A: After our first session together we will identify the goals that you would like to accomplish during therapy. In subsequent sessions, we will continue to monitor your progress in relation to these goals.
Q: Where can I go to learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
A: For more information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, visit the National Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists: http://www.nacbt.org/whatiscbt.htm