Frequently Asked Questions
Does it mean I am crazy or weak if I decide to seek mental health treatment?
Death, divorce, job loss, financial stress, and chronic illness all bring both stress and distress into your life. Even daily stressors, especially in today’s fast-paced world filled with the daily threats of disaster and war, can overwhelm you and throw your life out of balance. In the past, there has been a tremendous negative stigma associated with mental health treatment with people often referring to those in treatment as “crazy” or “weak”. More recent research has demonstrated that mental health treatment can support increased resilience to life’s stressors, improved health, and improved quality of life, overall. We agree that seeking treatment is actually a sign of strength and courage and we understand that a willingness to face issues and to initiate and follow through with treatment is an extremely difficult thing to do.
What is the difference between a social worker, psychologist, and psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor whose primary treatment modality is prescribing and managing psychiatric medications. Rarely, some psychiatrists provide psychotherapy as well. We do not have a psychiatrist on staff, but, as the standard of care for the treatment of some psychiatric disorders is psychotherapy and medication, we often collaborate with psychiatrists to insure the best possible treatment. The difference between a social worker and a psychologist is a bit more confusing, as their roles are often very similar. A social worker, as defined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has a Master’s Degree and appropriate training/supervision in counseling. A psychologist, as defined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has a doctoral degree and appropriate training/supervision. Aside from the educational level, the only difference between them is that a psychologist is qualified to independently administer and interpret psychological tests. We have psychologists and social workers associated with our agency and, even though their education and licensing are different, we regard them as equally qualified to provide mental health treatment. We do not assign cases based on education. Rather, we assign cases based upon area of expertise.
I think I or my child has ADHD, what do I need to do next?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complicated diagnosis that many people do not understand. Usually the school will inform the parent that the child is hyperactive or easily distractible and should be tested for ADHD. Also, a child’s primary care physician may request that a child be tested. The referral for “testing” is often misleading, as there is no test that actually measures ADHD. There are some psychological or neuropsychological tests that are associated with ADHD, but they are not perfect. Because there are different subtypes of ADHD, some people with ADHD do well on these tests and others without it do poorly. In children and adults, but especially in children since they are unable to decide if they want to take medication, I think of ADHD as a clinical diagnosis and work to understand how the person functions in their daily lives. I work to put myself into their shoes and determine factors that are interfering with their progress. I recommend that other diagnoses be excluded such as vision or hearing impairments, learning disabilities, intellectual deficits, lead exposure, etc. before providing a diagnosis. In children, this may require psychological testing or a referral to other specialists. I also work with the school to collect information including prior testing, academic records, questionnaires from teachers, and behavioral observations. In adults, psychological testing is usually not necessary. A clinical interview and completion of a questionnaire to identify significant symptoms is usually sufficient to make a diagnosis. In the end, all information is considered and a diagnosis, if appropriate it provided. I will then work with the family, school, and primary care physician to develop a treatment plan that may include medication and/or a structured behavioral plan.
Will information be held confidential?
Our providers, whether social workers or psychologists, are all bound by a code of ethics that requires them to maintain the highest level of confidentiality. Additionally, there are state and federal laws that insure that information will be held confidential (i.e., information discussed during treatment will be held between the client and the therapist). This means that, without a written consent, we will not reveal any information, even to your spouse or close relative. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. At the outset of treatment, if you have and plan to utilize your insurance benefits, we require that you sign a release for us to forward confidential information for the purpose of submitting an insurance claim on your behalf. In so doing, we always release the minimum necessary information to receive a claim which usually includes a diagnosis code and date of service. Although the limits of confidentiality are discussed more fully in the Contracts and Policies, it is important for you to know that we are legally required to break confidentiality for your protection, if you are believed to be an imminent threat to self or others or if we suspect child or elder abuse. Confidentiality with minor children is a big more complicated and will be defined during the initial session with the parents.
Once I have decided to seek treatment, what can I expect upon making the phone call to schedule?
After you decide to seek treatment, we would ask that you call to speak with our office staff, usually Tawny Dietrick or Candie Williamson. They will collect background information, mainly your name, date of birth, address, and insurance information. They will also ask you to briefly state your reason for seeking treatment. This is for the sole purpose of determining the best match for a therapist. It is not meant to be intrusive and it is not expected that you will go into great detail. The best match will be based upon the therapeutic issues and insurance carrier (i.e., unless you specifically request a therapist, then you will be matched with someone who accepts your insurance). Once the information is collected, you will be entered into our system. Then, the office staff will verify your insurance benefits and call you back with your benefits, as we are informed by your insurance company. It is important to us that you are completely informed of any cost that you will be incurred, to the best of our knowledge. The office staff will then call you to inform you of your benefits and offer to schedule the initial appointment. There are a number of forms for you to complete prior to your first visit. We request that you arrive one hour prior to your first session and we will provide you with the forms for you to complete. The initial session is a get-to-know-you session during which a thorough history will be collected and goals will be established. Assuming outpatient treatment is the correct method of treatment and you and your therapist are a good match, you will work together to make the significant changes in your life that are required to increase your mood, self-esteem, and, overall quality of life. The duration of treatment varies depending on the individual and therapeutic issue. Usually, the therapist can provide a rough estimate of how long you can expect to be in treatment at the end of the initial session.
What will I have to pay?
It is very important for us that you have an idea of what you can expect to pay in treatment, as we do not want anyone to end with with unexpected charges. The cost of treatment depends on whether you have insurance or not. If you do not have insurance, you will be expected to pay our rate as listed in our fee schedule. We will be happy to provide you with a receipt of payment for tax purposes. If you have insurance, we will verify your benefits prior to your first visit and inform you in advance of what you can expect to pay. Most insurances require you to pay a copayment which is a portion of their allowable rate. If we are a participating provider, we will verify, submit, and follow through with obtaining any required authorizations for treatment. If we become aware of any changes, we will notify you as soon as we become aware of them or before your next session. Either way, you will know in advance of what you are expected to pay. In every case, payment is due at the time of service in the form of a personal check or cash. At this time, we do not accept credit or debit cards.