Psychotherapy is not easily described in general statements. It varies depending on the personalities of the psychotherapist and patient, and the particular problems you are experiencing. There are various methods your psychotherapist may use to deal with the problems that you hope to address. Psychotherapy is not like a medical doctor visit. Instead, it calls for active involvement on your part. In order for the therapy to be most successful, you will have to work on things you talk about with your psychotherapist, both during your sessions and at home. Psychotherapy can have risks and benefits. Since therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, anxiety and helplessness. Your problems may temporarily worsen after the beginning of therapy. For instance, individuals seeking treatment for anxiety often notice an increase in symptom severity during the first several weeks of therapy as they learn new ways of managing their anxiety. Finally, even with best efforts, there is a risk that therapy may not bring you your desired outcomes. On the other hand, psychotherapy is well-documented to have many benefits. It 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. The first few sessions will involve an evaluation of your goals and needs. By the end of the evaluation, your psychotherapist will be able to offer you some first impressions of what your work together 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 your psychotherapist. Therapy involves a large commitment of time, money and energy, so please be careful about the psychotherapist you select. If you have questions about your psychotherapist’s procedures, you and your psychotherapist should discuss them whenever they arise. You may, at any time, refuse treatment, request a change in treatment approach, or ask for a referral elsewhere. There are circumstances in which your psychotherapist may not be the most appropriate provider for your psychological services. This may occur if your concerns are outside the scope of your psychotherapist’s training or expertise, if your working together would create a conflict of interest, or if your psychotherapist’s approach to therapy appears not to be working after a reasonable amount of time and effort.
Your psychotherapist will normally conduct a diagnostic evaluation that will last from one to three sessions. During that time, you can both decide if your psychotherapist is the best person to provide the services you need in order to meet your treatment goals. If psychotherapy is begun, your psychotherapist will usually schedule one 45-60 minute session per week at a time you both agree on. However, you and your psychotherapist may decide to meet for a different length of time, and/or more or less frequently.
Sessions are billed at $80 to $225 depending upon the complexity and length of the visit. If you have insurance benefits, session fees will be billed to your insurance and reduced to the rates we have agreed to as a contracted provider to your insurance company. If you have questions about your coverage, you should contact your insurance company. Other services such as written reports, travel time, review of records, communication with other professionals, and services provided by telephone may be charged at an hourly rate as determined by your psychotherapist. If you become involved in legal proceedings that require your psychotherapist’s participation, you will be expected to pay for all of their professional time, including preparation and transportation costs, even if they are called to testify by another party. Legal involvement may be charged at an hourly rate as determined by your psychotherapist. If you have special financial needs, please discuss these with your psychotherapist.
When you call the office number (800-693-1916 or 888-345-3561), or email firstname.lastname@example.org, you will reach our non-clinical office staff team. Due to your psychotherapist’s work schedule, they are often not immediately available by telephone. Generally, they will not answer the phone when they are in session. When unavailable, most psychotherapists route their calls to a personal voicemail that they monitor and your psychotherapist will make every effort to return your call on the same day you make it, with the exception of weekends and holidays. If you are unable to reach your psychotherapist and your situation is a non-emergency, you may contact the office by telephone or email. If you are unable to reach your psychotherapist and feel that your situation is life threatening, contact your family physician or the nearest emergency room. If your psychotherapist will be unavailable for an extended time, they should provide you with the name of a colleague to contact, if necessary.
The law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a psychotherapist. In most situations, we can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign an Authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by state law and/or HIPAA. However, your signature on this Agreement provides consent that we may disclose information in the following situations:
- We may communicate with another health care provider within the organization in order to coordinate continuity of care if necessary. This includes sharing clinical information with a psychotherapist who may be providing temporary coverage while your usual psychotherapist is out of the office.
- We may occasionally consult with other health or behavioral health professionals about a case. Should your psychotherapist seek such consultation, they will make every effort to avoid revealing your identity. These other professionals are also legally bound to keep any information confidential. Unless you object, they will not tell you about these consultations unless they feel that it is important to your work together.
- We may access your Clinical Record for administrative purposes, including but not limited to billing insurance, conducting peer review or quality assurance activity, supervision, or for a purpose expressly authorized by the patient. Staff is trained to protect your privacy and will not release any information without permission.
- We are allowed to disclose information to your health insurance company to bill your sessions or to collect past due fees.
There are some situations where we are permitted or legally required to disclose information without either your consent or Authorization:
- If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about the professional services we provided you and the records thereof, such information is usually protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege law. Whether we provide any information depends on 1) your written authorization; 2) you informing us that you are seeking a protective order against our compliance with a subpoena that has been properly served on your psychotherapist and of which you have been notified in a timely manner; or 3) a court order requiring the disclosure. If you are involved in or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney about likely required court disclosures.
- If a government agency is requesting the information for health oversight activities, we may be required to provide it to them.
- If you file a complaint or lawsuit against us, we may disclose information as relevant for our defense.
- If you file a worker’s compensation or automobile insurance claim, and your treatment is relevant to the injury involved in your claim, we must, upon appropriate request, provide information necessary for utilization review purposes.
- If your psychotherapist has reasonable suspicion that a child has suffered abuse or neglect, the law requires that the psychotherapist file a timely report with the appropriate government agency.
- If your psychotherapist has reasonable cause to believe that abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of a vulnerable adult has occurred, the law requires that the psychotherapist file a report with the appropriate government agency.
- If your psychotherapist has reason to believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger, your psychotherapist may be required by law to take protective actions, including notifying potential victims, contacting the police, seeking hospitalization for you, or contacting family members or others who can provide protection.
In any of the above situations, we will make an effort to discuss it with you before taking action and we will limit our disclosure to what is necessary.
In the event that support group sessions are provided, you are expected to keep materials shared in the group confidential. We cannot be held responsible for a breach of confidentiality on the part of group members.
While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential disclosures, it is important that you discuss any questions or concerns that you may have now or in the future with your psychotherapist. The laws governing confidentiality can be quite complex. In situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed.
The laws and standards of the psychotherapy profession require that we keep Protected Health Information (PHI) about you in your Clinical Record. It includes information about your reasons for seeking therapy, a description of the ways in which your problem impacts on your life, your diagnosis, the goals that are set for treatment, your progress towards those goals, your medical and social history, your treatment history, any past treatment records that are received from other providers, reports of any professional consultations, your billing records, and any reports that have been sent to anyone, including reports to your insurance carrier. Except in the unusual circumstance that your psychotherapist concludes that disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause danger to the life or safety of you or another, or that disclosure could reasonably be expected to lead to your identification of the person who provided information to your psychotherapist in confidence under circumstances where confidentiality is appropriate, you may examine and/or receive a copy of your Clinical Record, and you must request this in writing. Because these are clinical records, they can be misinterpreted and/or upsetting to untrained readers. For this reason, we recommend that you initially review them in the presence of your psychotherapist, or have them forwarded to another mental health professional so you can discuss the contents. (In most situations, we are allowed to charge a $25.00 clerical fee, and a copying fee of $1.00 per page for the first 20 pages, $0.50 per page from pages 21-50 and $0.25 per page for pages 51+). If we refuse your request for access to your records, you have a right of review (except for information supplied to us confidentially by others), which your psychotherapist will discuss with you upon request.
HIPAA provides expanded rights regarding Protected Health Information (PHI). You can provide a written request to 1) amend your Clinical Record; 2) request restrictions on what information in your Clinical Record is disclosed to others; 3) request an accounting of most disclosures of PHI and where they were sent; 4) request that any complaints you make about our policies and procedures be recorded in your record, and 5) receive a printed copy of this Agreement and our privacy policies.
Minors & Parents
Michigan patients under 18 years of age who are not emancipated, Illinois patients under 17 years of age who are not emancipated, and their parents should be aware that the law may allow parents to examine their child’s treatment records. They should also be aware that Michigan patients over 14 years of age can consent to (and control access to information about) their own treatment, although that treatment cannot extend beyond 12 sessions or 4 months. They should also be aware that Illinois patients over 12 years of age can consent to (and control access to information about) their own treatment, although that treatment cannot extend beyond 8 (90 minute) sessions. While privacy in psychotherapy is very important, particularly with adolescents, parental involvement is also essential to successful treatment. Therefore, it may be your psychotherapist’s policy to request an agreement from any patient between 14 and 18 years of age and his/her parents allowing the psychotherapist to share general information with parents about the progress of treatment and the child’s attendance at scheduled sessions.
In certain cases, the psychotherapist’s responsibility to your child may require involvement in conflicts between parents. By signing the consent form, you agree that the psychotherapist’s involvement will be strictly limited to that which will benefit your child. This means, among other things, that you will treat anything that is said in session with the psychotherapist as confidential. Neither parent will attempt to gain advantage in any legal proceeding from treatment with your child. You agree that in any such proceedings, neither parent will ask the psychotherapist to testify in court, whether in person or by affidavit. You also agree to instruct your attorneys not to subpoena the psychotherapist or to refer in any court filing to anything that has been said in treatment. If the psychotherapist is required to testify, the psychotherapist is ethically bound not to give any opinion about either parents’ custody or visitation suitability. If the psychotherapist is required to appear as a witness, the party responsible for the psychotherapist’s participation agrees to reimburse at a rate to be determined with the psychotherapist in advance for time spent traveling, preparing reports, testifying, being in attendance, and any other case-related costs.
Payment for Services
You will be expected to pay for each session at the time it is held, unless we agree otherwise or you have insurance coverage that requires another arrangement (ie. balance to be billed to you upon receipt of the insurance processing). You are responsible for payment for all services you receive, whether or not your insurance reimburses for a portion of the charges. “No show” or “late cancel” appointments may also be billed to you. If there have been no payments on your account for more than 60 days and arrangements for payment have not been agreed upon, we have the option of using legal means to secure the payment. This may involve hiring a collection agency or going through small claims court, which will require us to disclose otherwise confidential information. In most collection situations, the only information we release regarding a client’s treatment is his/her name, the nature of services provided, and the amount due.
We do not anticipate collections procedures, but have established this policy so that all clients are clear as to our office procedure. If you have questions about fees, payments or your balance, please speak directly with your psychotherapist, contact us via email at email@example.com, or call us at either office number (800-693-1916 or 888-345-3561).
Many health insurance plans provide coverage for necessary mental health treatment when you see a licensed psychotherapist. It is your responsibility to know the limitations and restrictions to your insurance benefits. Note that many policies may only cover a limited number of sessions each year, may have restrictions on the licensure of the psychotherapist you see, and may or may not provide payment for a psychotherapist considered to be out of network with your health insurance plan. We will complete forms and provide you with whatever assistance we can in helping you receive the benefits to which you are entitled; however, you (not your insurance company) are responsible for full payment of fees. It is important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers. Great Lakes Psychology Group does not provide services through Medicaid, regardless of whether you are eligible for said benefits.
Please check your coverage carefully prior to your first session. Of course, our staff will provide you with whatever information we can based on our experience and will be happy to help you in understanding the information you receive from your insurance company. You can call the number on your insurance card and ask the following questions:
- Do I have benefits for outpatient mental health services?
- Do I have coverage when I see an Out of Network provider?
- How much is my deductible and has it been met this year?
- Is there a separate deductible for mental health services?
- What is my co-pay or coinsurance for mental health services?
- What are the “allowable amounts” for procedure codes 90791 (diagnostic evaluation), 90834 (psychotherapy, 37-52 minutes), and 90837 (psychotherapy, 53+ minutes)?
Insurance claims will be submitted to your health insurance company by Great Lakes Psychology Group. If your psychotherapist or your insurance company determine that your psychotherapy is not “medically necessary” according to the guidelines of the insurance industry, you will be responsible for the fee, as insurance covers only such “medically necessary” services.
You should also be aware that your contract with your health insurance company requires that we provide it with information relevant to the services that we provide to you. We are required to provide a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes we are required to provide additional clinical information such as treatment plans or summaries, or copies of your entire Clinical Record. In such situations, we will make every effort to release only the minimum information about you that is necessary for the purpose requested. This information will become part of the insurance company’s files and will probably be stored in a computer. Though all insurance companies claim to keep such information confidential, we have no control over what they do with it once it is in their possession. In some cases, they may share the information with a national medical information databank. We will provide you with a copy of any report we submit, if you request it. By signing this Agreement, you agree that we can provide requested information to your carrier.
Once we have all the information about your insurance coverage, you may discuss with your psychotherapist what you can expect to accomplish with the benefits that are available and what will happen if they run out before you feel ready to end your sessions. You always have the right to pay for services yourself to avoid the problems described above (unless prohibited by contract), and we are also able to provide you with a statement which you can submit to your insurance company directly for reimbursement.
Telehealth involves the use of electronic communications to enable Great Lakes Psychology Group’s mental health professionals to connect with individuals using interactive video and audio communications.
Telehealth includes the practice of psychological health care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, referral to resources, education, and the transfer of medical and clinical data.
If you and your psychotherapist agree to schedule any telehealth appointments, you understand that you have the following rights with respect to telehealth:
- The laws that protect the confidentiality of your personal information also apply to telehealth. As such, you understand that the information disclosed during the course of your sessions is generally confidential. However, there are both mandatory and permissive exceptions to confidentiality, including, but not limited to, reporting child, elder, and dependent adult abuse; expressed threats of violence toward an ascertainable victim; and where you make your mental or emotional state an issue in a legal proceeding. You also understand that the dissemination of any personally identifiable images or information from the telehealth interaction to other entities shall not occur without your written consent.
- You understand that you have the right to withhold or withdraw your consent to the use of telehealth in the course of your care at any time, without affecting your right to future care or treatment.
- You understand that there are risks and consequences from telehealth, including, but not limited to, the possibility, despite reasonable efforts on the part of the psychotherapist, that: the transmission of your personal information could be disrupted or distorted by technical failures, the transmission of your personal information could be interrupted by unauthorized persons, and/or the electronic storage of your personal information could be unintentionally lost or accessed by unauthorized persons. Great Lakes Psychology Group utilizes secure, encrypted audio/video transmission software to deliver telehealth.
- You understand that there is a risk that services could be disrupted or distorted by unforeseen technical problems.
- In addition, you understand that teletherapy based services and care may not be as complete as face-to-face services. You also understand that if your psychotherapist believes you would be better served by another form of therapeutic services (e.g. face-to-face services) you will be referred to a professional who can provide such services in your area.
- You understand the alternatives to counseling through telehealth as they have been explained to you, and in choosing to participate in telehealth, you are agreeing to participate using video conferencing technology. You also understand that at your request or at the direction of your psychotherapist, you may be directed to “face-to-face” psychotherapy.
- You understand that you may expect the anticipated benefits such as improved access to care and more efficient evaluation and management from the use of telehealth in your care, but that no results can be guaranteed or assured. You understand that there are potential risks and benefits associated with any form of psychotherapy, and that despite your efforts and the efforts of your psychotherapist, your condition may not improve, and in some cases may even get worse.
- You understand that your healthcare information may be shared with other individuals for scheduling and billing purposes.
- You understand that you have a right to access your medical information and copies of your medical records in accordance with the laws pertaining to the state in which you reside.
- You accept that teletherapy does not provide emergency services. If you are experiencing an emergency situation, you understand that you can call 911 or proceed to the nearest hospital emergency room for help. If you are having suicidal thoughts or making plans to harm yourself, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) for free 24 hour hotline support. Clients who are actively at risk of harm to self or others are not suitable for teletherapy services. If this is the case or becomes the case in future, your psychotherapist will recommend more appropriate services.
- You understand that there is a risk of being overheard by anyone near you if you are not in a private room while participating in teletherapy. You are responsible for (1) providing the necessary computer, telecommunications equipment and internet access for your teletherapy sessions, and (2) arranging a location with sufficient lighting and privacy that is free from distractions or intrusions for your teletherapy sessions. It is the responsibility of the psychotherapist to do the same on their end.
- You understand that different states have different regulations for the use of telehealth and that if you travel out of state, you may not be able to receive telehealth services if your clinician is not licensed or otherwise authorized to practice psychotherapy in the state where you are physically located.
Payment for Telehealth Services
Great Lakes Psychology Group will bill insurance for telehealth services when these services have been determined to be covered by an individual’s insurance plan. In the event that insurance does not cover telehealth, the individual wishes to pay out-of-pocket, or when there is no insurance coverage, payment will be expected at the time of service unless otherwise agreed upon.