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Practical questions answered! (insurance, fees, scheduling, etc.)

When potential clients call or email to schedule an appointment, they often have some basic, practical questions that need to be answered first. I thought I would make a short list of answers to the most important and most commonly asked questions:

1. How do I pay?

-I take Blue Cross Blue Shield, UHC, Cigna, Medcost, and all Medicaid plans. I also take debit and cash. The cash fee is $75/hr. Most therapists charge twice that much. If you don't have insurance, I can see you for free as a hardship case--I get special funding because my practice is a Medicaid Preferred Provider.

-Insurance does not pay for marriage/couples therapy anymore, unless the paying partner has a diagnosed mental illness. Any therapist who says otherwise MAY be cheating insurance, and might even be diagnosing you with a mental disorder behind your back to get insurance to pay.

-Unfortunately, I cannot take Medicare, even if you have other insurance. But most Medicare clients are likewise happy with the sliding scale fee. To explain, if you have Medicare, the government requires you to use it first, before any other insurance. And unfortunately, due to their powerful Federal political lobby, only Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW's) are allowed to bill Medicare.

2. How does scheduling work?

-I work Mon.-Thurs. 8-4, and Fri. 8-1. All of my sessions are 55 minutes long. Sessions are once per week, every week, same day, same time--so they are in "slots." So my first appointment is from 8-9, and my last appointment is 3-4 (or on Fridays, 12-1).

-After years of experience, I have found that effective therapy is once per week, every week. This is true for any type of therapy. Anything less involves using half the session to "catch up," and if you miss one session (it happens), then you don't have an appointment for a month. This is a waste of your time and money. To help clients out, sessions are always at the same time, same day.

-I am not interested in endless therapy. I want my clients to get better and get back out there into the world. My schedule stays full, and I am highly motivated to provide the highest quality service, in the shortest time needed. Some clients come for single-event PTSD and are cured in 1-2 sessions. The average number of marriage therapy sessions for LMFT's nationwide is 12. There are clients who are so severely damaged that their therapy more than a year to address safely.

-Our no-show policy is simple: give 24 hours notice, and there's no problem. Day-of cancellations are allowed four times before we refer a client out. No-call-no-shows are allowed two times before we refer elsewhere. There are just so many people who need help, many of whom have waited weeks or months to see me!

Which brings me to:

3. How soon can I be seen?

-I am ALWAYS accepting new clients. It is not a matter of if, but when, I can see you--I will get to your case. For this reason, my schedule is always full. If you are willing to wait, I can place you on my waitlist. I don't keep an "order," I simply go down the list when I have an opening, and the first person to answer the phone gets the appointment. Even if you have limited availability, I may be able to fit you in next week--or it may take much longer. I can't predict these things. But it is my desire to help as many clients as possible, so I never turn anyone away.

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