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About Therapy With Us

Welcome to Equip Counseling.  This page contains important information about our professional services and business policies.

Psychotherapy is not easily described in general statements.  It varies depending on the personality of both the therapist and the patient and the particular problems that the patient brings.  There are a number of different approaches that can be utilized to address the problems you hope to address. It is not like visiting a medical doctor, in that it requires a very active effort on your part.  In order to be most successful, you will have to work both during therapy sessions and at home.

Psychotherapy has both risks and benefits.  Risks sometimes include experiencing uncomfortable levels of feelings such as sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger and frustration, loneliness and helplessness.  In marital psychotherapy couples sometimes divorce. Psychotherapy often requires recalling unpleasant aspects of your history. Psychotherapy has also been shown to have benefits for people who undertake it.  It often leads to a significant reduction of feelings of distress, and better relationships and resolutions of specific problems. But there are no guarantees about what will happen.

By the end of the evaluation, I will be able to offer you some initial impressions of what our work will include and an initial treatment plan, if you decide to continue.  You should evaluate this information along with your own assessment about 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 work, we should discuss them whenever they arise. If your doubts persist, I will be happy to help you secure an appropriate consultation with another mental health professional. If you would like a referral for a medication evaluation, I will help you seek such if we see this as appropriate.

My normal practice is to conduct an evaluation that will last from 2 to 4 sessions.  During that time, we can both decide whether I am the best person to provide the services that you need in order to meet your treatment objectives.  Many people decide within the first month or so if they wish to continue or not. If they choose to continue, patients may be seen up to years at a time.  Once psychotherapy is initiated, I will usually schedule one forty-five minute session (one appointment session of forty-five minute duration) per week at a mutually agreed time, although sometimes sessions will be longer or will change in frequency.  You are responsible for payment at the time services are rendered. Once an appointment session is scheduled, you will be expected to pay for it unless you provide advance notice of cancellation. Notice of less than 2 days prior to the scheduled appointment will carry a $40 late cancellation fee.  Failure to provide notice of a cancellation will result in a fee equal to my full private pay session fee as described below. Fees can be waived if we both agree that you were unable to attend due to circumstances which were beyond your control. If it is possible, I will try to find another time to reschedule the appointment.

My private pay session fee is $150. In addition to weekly appointments, it is my practice to charge this amount on a prorated basis for other professional services you may require, such as, report writing, telephone conversations which last longer than 15 minutes, attendance at meetings or consultations with other professionals which you have authorized, preparation of records or treatment summaries or the time required to perform any other services which you may request of me.  In unusual circumstances, you may become involved in a litigation which may require my participation. You will be expected to pay for the professional time required even if I am compelled to testify by another party. Because of the complexity and difficulty of legal involvement, I charge $300 per hour in preparation for and attendance at any legal proceeding.

Payment is expected for each session at the time it is held, unless we agree otherwise or you have insurance coverage which requires another arrangement.  Payment schedules for other professional services will be agreed to at that time these services are requested. I charge $35 for all returned items such as personal checks that do not clear the bank.  You may request monthly statements at no cost. I will be happy to provide an additional itemized statement for a charge of $25.

In circumstances of unusual financial hardship, I may be willing to negotiate a fee adjustment or installment payment plan. These fee adjustments are based upon payment in full and your accounts being maintained as current zero balances.  In the event that you are unable to pay when services are rendered your fees will be assessed at the standard office fees at this time of $150 for an individual session, $50 for a group therapy session, or $75 for a family group session.

In order for us to set realistic treatment goals and priorities, it is important to evaluate what resources are available to pay for your treatment.  If you have a health benefits policy, it will likely provide some coverage for mental health treatment. I may or may not participate with your insurance provider, and that participation with affect your benefits with the provider.  I will provide you with whatever assistance I can, including facilitate you a receipt for the benefits to which you are entitled, as well as directly billing your insurance as appropriate. However, you, and not your insurance company are responsible for full payments of the fee to which we have agreed.  Therefore, it is important that you find out exactly what mental health services and service providers your insurance policy covers.

You should carefully read the section in your insurance coverage booklet which describes mental health services.  If you have questions, you should call your plan and inquire. Of course, I will provide you with whatever information I can based on my experience and will be happy to try to assist you in deciphering the information you receive from your carrier.  If I am a contracted and credentialed provider with your insurance company, I can inquire and potentially resolve questions or concerns.

You should be aware that insurance billing requires me to provide clinical data about your care, such as diagnosis, a treatment plan or summary, or in rare cases, a copy of the entire record.  This information will become part of the insurance company’s computerized files. All insurance companies are subject to federal HIPAA privacy laws, requiring them to keep such information confidential, but once it is in their hands, I have no control over what they do with it.  In some cases they may share the information with a national medical information data bank, or they may merge it with health information from your other providers to determine the need for care management.

Once we have all of the information about your insurance coverage, we will discuss what we can expect to accomplish with the benefits that are available and what will happen if the insurance benefits run out before you feel you are ready to end our sessions.  It is important to remember you always have the right to pay for your sessions yourself and avoid the complexities which are described above.

Both law and the standards of my profession require that I keep appropriate treatment records.  You are entitled to receive a copy of the records, but if you wish, I can prepare an appropriate summary.  Because these are professional records, they can be misinterpreted and/or upsetting. If you wish to see your records, I recommend that you review them in my presence so that we can discuss what they contain.  (I am sometimes willing to conduct such a meeting without charge.) Patients will be charged an appropriate fee for any preparation time which is required to comply with all information requests.

If you are under 18 years of age, please be aware that the law provides your parents with the right to examine your treatment records.  In general, I will provide them only with an overview on how your treatment is proceeding, unless I feel that there is a high risk that you will seriously harm yourself or another, in which case I will notify them of my concern.  I will also provide them with a summary of your treatment when it is complete. Before giving them any information, I will discuss the matter with you and will do the best I can to resolve any objections you may have about what I am prepared to discuss.  If you are from a home where there has been a divorce, I require consent of treatment from the parent(s) who maintain legal custody.

In general, the confidentiality of all communications between a patient and a mental health professional is protected by law.  I can only release information about our work to others with written permission, however, there are a number of exceptions. I make every effort to discuss a situation of exception with you in advance before taking any action.

Group psychotherapy requires all patients maintain confidentiality of all communications.  All of the groups I conduct require members to abide by this understanding. Even so, I cannot be certain what fellow members discuss outside of treatments.  If this is a concern for you, be certain that the majority of patients do fine without being involved in group psychotherapy.

Electronic media allows us to facilitate our communications at a faster rate.  I often return telephone calls through cellular phones and I accept and reply to email and text message.  While these forms of communication are certainly personalized, I cannot insure that they will remain completely confidential.  I will assume you approve of the use of cellular phones and/or emails and text unless you notify me and we can discuss alternatives.

In most judicial proceedings, you have the right to prevent me from providing any information about your treatment.  However, in some circumstances such as child custody proceedings and proceedings in which your emotional condition is an important element, a judge may require my testimony if he/she determines that resolution of the issues before him/her demands it.

There are some situations in which I am legally required to take action to protect others from harm, even though that requires revealing some information about a patient’s treatment.

If I believe that a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person is being abused, I must file a report with the appropriate state agency.

If I believe that a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, I am required to take protective actions, which may include notifying the potential victim, notify the police, or seeking appropriate hospitalization.

If a patient threatens to harm him/herself, I may be required to seek hospitalization for the patient, or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.

I may occasionally find it helpful to consult about a case with other professionals.  In these consultations, I make every effort to avoid revealing the identity of my patients.  The consultant is, of course, also legally bound to keep the information confidential. Unless you object, I will not tell you about these consultations unless I feel that it is important to our work together.  As a Michigan Limited License Psychologist, I will be periodically consulting with a Licensed Psychologist. Your case may or may not be involved in this consultation.

While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you of the potential problems, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns you may have.  As you might suspect, the laws governing these issues are quite complex and I am not an attorney. While I am happy to discuss these issues with you, should you need specific advice, formal legal consultation may be desirable.  If you request, I will provide you with relevant portions or summaries of the applicable state laws governing these issues.

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