I place high importance on protecting the privacy of my clients. When you come in for your first appointment, you will be given a copy of the HIPAA notice of privacy and confidentiality. The law requires that I obtain your signature acknowledging that I have provided you with this information. When you sign the acknowledgment of receipt and agreement form, it will represent an agreement between us. I will also explain the instances in which I am legally obligated to break confidentiality. Those instances are:
Counseling varies depending on the personalities of the therapist and client, and the particular problems you are experiencing. There are many different methods I may use to deal with the problems that you hope to address. We will work together as a team, but I cannot “fix” you: you will get out of therapy what you put into it. In order for the therapy to be most successful, you will have to work on things we talk about both during our sessions and in between sessions.
Psychotherapy and counseling 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 many benefits. Therapy often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. When therapy works, it will help you to take control of your own life. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience.
In our first few sessions I will formulate an idea of your stated and unstated needs. You should form your own opinions of whether you feel comfortable working with me. It is important that you understand that you are free to terminate therapy at any time. Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money, and energy, so you should be comfortable with the therapist you select. If you have questions about my procedures or anything else that happens in our sessions, please discuss them with me whenever they arise. If you wish, I’ll be glad to provide you with names of therapists who could see you for a second opinion or to whom you could transfer or you could seek a referral on your own.
Sessions are 50 minutes, generally once a week. For couples, I recommend that the first session is a “double” or 100 minutes, so that we can get to know each other and to provide enough time for you both to “get your story out.” The frequency of subsequent sessions is up to you: weekly is best, but I understand that the pressures of work schedules and finances may require that you come in every two weeks
I charge for cancellations of less than 24 hours and for no-shows. If you call to reschedule your appointment less than 24 hours before your scheduled time, I will waive the hourly charge only if we can agree on a new appointment time within three of my working days.
Contacting Me: 404-550-7540
Due to my schedule, I am often not immediately available by telephone. I check messages periodically during the day, and once or twice daily during weekends and holidays. Please speak clearly and give numbers slowly and twice, since I may not have any way to look up your number. If you have an urgent need, please make this very clear in your message. If it is an emergency, please call 911.
The laws and standards of my profession require that I keep a set of Psychotherapy Notes on your case. These Notes are for my own use and are designed to assist me in providing you with the best psychotherapy and counseling. While the contents of Psychotherapy Notes vary from client to client, they generally consist of notes to myself about our work that would not be very meaningful to others. Your file is kept in a locked file cabinet, in a locked office. You have the right to read your file if you wish. Because these are professional files, I recommend that you read it the first time in my presence so that I can explain anything to you that may not be clear. You have the right to a copy of your file, if you wish.
HIPAA provides you with several new or expanded rights with regard to your Client Record and disclosures of protected health information. These rights include requesting that I amend your record; requesting restrictions on what information from your Clinical Record is disclosed to others; requesting an accounting of most disclosures of protected health information that you have neither consented to nor authorized; determining the location to which protected information disclosures are sent; having any complaints you make about my policies and procedures recorded in your records; and the right to a paper copy of this Agreement, the attached Notice form, and my privacy policies and procedures. I am willing to discuss any of these rights with you.
Billing & Payments
You will be expected to pay for each therapy session at the time it is held. In cases of financial hardship, I may be willing to negotiate a payment installment plan or reduce my rate. This is done at my discretion on a case-by-case basis. I require 24 hour notice if you need to cancel an appointment so that someone else may take that time slot. Late cancellations and no-shows will be billed to you for the full amount. I accept cash, checks, credit cards or debit cards. You will be charged an administrative fee for returned checks, in addition to the amount of the check.
Considerations Regarding Third Party Payment (Insurance Reimbursement)
Some of my Clients elect to use their insurance to help pay for our time together. If you plan to file your own insurance, I will provide you with receipts of your visits. But, before deciding to use your insurance coverage, please read the following very carefully so you will know how filing for insurance may affect you.
Filing for third party reimbursement requires that your therapy, or "treatment," be certified as "medically necessary." This requires me to provide the insurance company with a diagnosis to justify your treatment. This diagnosis will be attached to your insurance records for a number of years to come. It is also my understanding that this diagnosis, and possibly other personal information about you and your therapy, will be kept in shared insurance computers for some period of time. The diagnosis may lead to your being uninsurable for underwritten insurance (e.g., disability, life, health, etc.) for a number of years.
If your insurance is a managed care policy, as most insurance policies are today, I may be required to send the insurance company much personal information about you in addition to the mental health diagnosis. I may also be required to write frequent reviews releasing more personal information with each review. I cannot guarantee that this information will be treated confidentially once it is released and out of my hands. Also, managed care policies usually limit the frequency of psychotherapy and counseling appointments and the total number of sessions they consider necessary to treat your diagnosis.
Insurance companies will not pay for missed therapy appointments, whether no-shows or late cancellations. You are responsible for paying for the reserved time.
At your first appointment, you will be given a set of documents to read and sign, which will become part of your permanent file. These documents include:
It is an honor to work with my clients. I appreciate your trust, and trust that you will honor your agreements with me. I look forward to working with you, and to traveling with you on your life journey.