Questions about Therapy

FAQ

Below are some questions that some people may have about therapy.  Most of this information is from my “Consent to Treatment” from (see other page on my website to read and/or download this form).  The form has more information within that you may also find helpful and useful.

What is therapy like?

Therapy is not easily described in a few sentences.  Although therapy has been shown to be helpful for many issues, there are no guarantees about treatment outcomes or what you will experience.  It varies depending on the personalities of the therapist and the client, and the particular problems you bring forward. Therapy is not like a medical doctor visit.   Instead, it calls for a very active effort on your part.   In order for the therapy to be most successful, you will have to work on things we talk about both during our sessions and at home.

How can therapy help me?

Therapy can have benefits and risks. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, therapy has also been shown to have benefits for people who go through it.  Therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience.  Addressing issues between family members and friends can lead to discomfort and may result in changes that were not originally intended.  I encourage you to discuss any uncomfortable thoughts and feelings with me as they arise during the course of treatment.  If you have any questions about my treatment methods or my business procedures, please discuss them with me in a timely manner.

 

How will I perhaps get an idea if working with you, Blair, will be a good fit for me?

I normally conduct an evaluation that will last from 2 to 4 sessions. During this time, we can both decide if I am the best person to provide the services you need in order to meet your treatment goals.  These first few sessions will involve an evaluation of your needs. By the end of the evaluation, I will be able to offer you some first impressions of what our work will include and a treatment plan to follow, if you decide to continue with therapy. You should evaluate this information along with your own opinions of whether you feel comfortable working with me. Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money, and energy, so you should be very careful about the therapist you select. If you have questions about my procedures, we should discuss them whenever they arise. If your doubts persist, I will be happy to help you set up a meeting with another mental health professional for a second opinion.

 

How long are appointments? 

 I will usually schedule one 50-minute session (one appointment hour of 50 minutes duration) per week at a time we agree on, although some sessions may be longer or more frequent.  It is important during the therapeutic process to keep your regular appointments in order to increase the likelihood of therapeutic gains.  When you are in treatment, your time is reserved solely for you.

What happens if I can unable to make one of our appointments?

As is customary with most professionals, if you cancel your appointment, a 24-hour notice is required.  If an appointment is missed or canceled with less than a 24-hour notice, you may be billed.

Do you take Insurance?

I am on both MHN and Aetna.  If you are a MHN or Aetna member, please call MHN or Aetna to verify that I am in your “Umbrella” for Providers.

I am with MHN (or Aetna) and you, Blair, are in my “Umbrella” for Providers.  What kind of coverage do I have?  What kind of information will my Insurance get from you?

You should carefully read the section in your insurance coverage booklet that describes mental health services. If you have questions about the coverage, call your plan administrator. Of course I will provide you with whatever information I can based on my experience and will be happy to help you in understanding the information you receive from your insurance company. If it is necessary to clear confusion, I will be willing to call the company on your behalf.

Please note that your insurance policy is a contact between you and your insurance company.  It’s important that you understand it’s provisions.  Although your insurance company will be billed for fees, you are responsible for that portion of the fee that is not reimbursed by your insurance carrier (e.g., deductibles, co-payments, cancelled session, etc).  If your insurance company pays only a portion of the bill or rejects it entirely, the insurance company will sent an explanation of benefits to you.  Reduction or rejection of your claim does not relieve you of your financial responsibility for your therapy session.

Due to the rising costs of health care, insurance benefits have increasingly become more complex. It is sometimes difficult to determine exactly how much mental health coverage is available.

“Managed Health Care” plans such as HMOs and PPOs often require authorization before they provide reimbursement for mental health services. These plans are often limited to short-term treatment approaches designed to work out specific problems that interfere with a person’s usual level of functioning. It may be necessary to seek approval for more therapy after a certain number of sessions. While a lot can be accomplished in short-term therapy, some clients feel that they need more services after insurance benefits end. [Some managed-care plans will not allow me to provide services to you once your benefits end. If this is the case, I will do my best to find another provider who will help you continue your psychotherapy.] If you have a co-payment, I will ask you to pay for it at the start of each session.

 

My Insurance is not covered by you.  Can I still work with you as my Therapist? 

Yes. In order for us to set realistic treatment goals and priorities, it is important to evaluate what resources you have available to pay for your treatment. If you have a health insurance policy, it will usually provide some coverage for mental health treatment.  I can give you a “Super Bill”  that you can submit for possible reimbursement.

However, please note that you (not your insurance company) are responsible for full payment of my fees. It is very important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers.  You should carefully read the section in your insurance coverage booklet that describes mental health services. If you have questions about the coverage, call your plan administrator.

 

I see that your phone number listed on the Psychology Today website is not the same one that is listed on your website.  Do you have two phone numbers?  Which one should I call?

The phone number listed on the Psychology Today website goes through their system.  I have found on a few occasions, when people have used that number it does not go to my cell phone.  In order to be sure to reach me, please use the phone of: (650) 522-0882 which is the direct number to my cell phone.

FAQ

Licensed Therapist, San Mateo, California