Is psychotherapy effective?

While there is no guarantee, the majority of people experience improvement and feel better with psychotherapy.  In fact, Seligman’s famous study in the 1990s showed the longer people were in therapy, the more improvement they experienced.  Clearly, there are a wide range of problems people face, many of which are more difficult to treat and have poorer outcomes.  Continued research in the field is refining which therapies are empirically supported, and it is my practice to continue studying and incorporating those approaches. 

What is Christian Accommodation Therapy?

Research shows that psychotherapy which is sensitive to a person’s religious faith provides added benefit to the therapeutic process.  Many clients come to my office because they know I will understand the culture of their church and religious experiences, and I seek to understand and live by the same conservative Christian values and Scriptures.  However, I enjoy working with people from a variety of faith backgrounds and do not discriminate in my practice based on any factor, religious or otherwise. 

Why does psychotherapy cost so much?

How much do you value your mental health? You are helping pay for years of education and continued training for therapists who desire to help you manage the complexity of issues life may bring your way.  As with any business, there are overhead expenses, including rent, etc., as well as liability insurance and other costs. Many of us seek to balance the business side of the equation with a real focus on ministry to those who struggle with anxiety, depression, marital issues, etc.  Even in churches where counseling with a pastor can be “free”, the pastor’s salary is paid through the church’s tithes and offerings – which cover the “business” side of running any church or religious organization.  For my services, health insurance helps with the majority of the costs to people.

What about health insurance for your services? 

While I do take Medicare (federal program, not Medicaid, the state program), most clients have other insurances that reimburse them.  I am “out of network” with most plans, and they penalize you for going out of network (that is, to the provider of your choice) by charging a deductible (often $100/year in the past) and reimbursing at a lower rate (often 70 – 80 % of the charge vs. a $10 copay).  I give a double receipt for your sessions, and with the added information from your health insurance card, you can send one copy to your insurance company to get reimbursed.  I advise people to call the behavioral health number on the back of your card to check on your “out of network” benefits, even before you set up your first appointment.  You want to “count the cost” in advance so that you do not get started with one person, then decide you want to go “in-network” due to your budget.  The health insurance companies have 45 days by law to pay reimburse you, although in my experience, most people receive payment within three weeks. 

Why is there a charge for missing an appointment?

You are really paying for the therapist’s time, whether you are present or not.  For many in my profession, we have waiting lists, and it is unfair to others when an appointment is not kept.  Furthermore, a key aspect of mental health is the issue of acceptance of responsibility for the choices we make in life.  It is not the therapist’s responsibility to pay (or lose income) when someone forgets their appointment or cancels without sufficient notice.  For these reasons, it is standard practice to have a 48 hours cancellation policy to give time for the therapist to offer the appointment time to someone else.  Your health insurance does not cover this cost, since they see it as the client’s responsibility.

What is the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, professional counselor and licensed clinical social worker?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with additional training in psychopharmacology (medication for psychological problems) and psychotherapy.  They often are in the role of providing medication to help people cope with their problems and work in cooperation with other mental health providers who do psychotherapy.

Psychologists typically have a doctorate (PhD or PsyD), and our training is in diagnosing and treating a wide range of psychological problems.  We help people cope more effectively in their lives without the use of medication, if possible.  Often we work in conjunction with medical doctors who do prescribe medication as an adjunct to therapy.  Educationally, there are more course requirements for psychologists than other therapists.  All mental health practitioners work under the supervision of others in the first two to five years after their initial education.

Most people providing psychotherapy today are Master’s level clinicians, either a Master’s in Social Work (LCSW after they are licensed) or a Masters in Counseling or Clinical Psychology (LPC after they are licensed – for Licensed Professional Counselor).  The course requirements are less than for psychologists and psychiatrists. 

In addition to these sources of help, there are clergy, lay counselors, and self-help groups that can be of help without any cost whatsoever. In the end, people with any of the above credentials can provide service that can help you deal with life’s struggles.