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Frequently Asked Questions

Note
The information provided on this website is not intended to replace a professional consultation, nor does it imply that a professional relationship has been established.


Who will answer my phone calls?
I personally return phone calls within 24 hours. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency receiving facility. If you have a mental health emergency and need a referral, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225


What will my first appointment be like?
Our first meeting will be for about 90 minutes. We will discuss any concerns or problems you have. I will obtain relevant background information, provide an assessment of your situation, and explain my approach in plain English. At the end of the meeting, I will propose a solution-focused action plan based on your goals and values. I want you to have the information you need to help you decide whether I will be a good fit for you. My goal is to serve as a guide through the next steps in your life journey


What are fees and financial arrangements?
I charge $200.00 per hour, payable by cash, check, or online payment. Payment is due at the time services are provided, although established clients may handle their accounts monthly for their convenience. I schedule most clients for approximately 90 to 120 minutes each week or every other week. I charge the same fees to all clients and do not use a sliding scale.


What about health insurance and managed care?
Because health insurance reduces privacy and limits the amount of time in sessions, I do not accept insurance payments, file insurance forms, or provide superbills for reimbursement. If you have a mental disorder or psychiatric diagnosis and wish to use insurance, I can provide you with the names of licensed mental health professionals or organizations that provide treatment.


What about Medicare?
have chosen to "opt out" of Medicare, and I do not accept Medicare payments. Doctors and other health care providers who don't want to work with the Medicare program may "opt out" of Medicare. Opting out means that Medicare doesn't pay for any covered items or services that a patient receives from an opt out doctor or other provider, except in the case of an emergency or urgent need. When a patient receives care from a provider who's opted out of Medicare, neither the patient nor the provider will submit a bill to Medicare for the services the patient receives from that provider, and Medicare won't reimburse the patient or the provider for the services. Instead, the provider bills the patient directly and the patient pays the provider out-of-pocket. A provider who has opted out of Medicare isn't required to accept only Medicare's fee-for-service charges. A patient can receive get care from these providers who have opted out, but the provider must enter into a private contract with the patient (unless the patient is in need of emergency or urgently needed care).


What is a private contract?
A private contract is a written agreement between a patient and a doctor or other health care provider who has decided not to provide services to anyone through Medicare. The private contract only applies to the services provided by the doctor or other provider who asked the patient to sign it. A patient doesn't have to sign a private contract, because the patient can always choose to go to another provider who providers services through Medicare.


What is the "No Surprises Rule?"
As an ethics professor, I teach my students to establish realistic expectations with their patients so that there are no surprises. As a practitioner, I strive to practice what I preach in terms of explaining to others what they need to know to make informed decisions. In doing so, I use the Golden Rule (treat others they way I would want to be treated), the Silver Rule (treat the others the way I would want my parents to be treated), and the Platinum Rule (treat others the way they want to be treated). No, it does not mean that I let others regulate my actions, but rather than I take into consideration the values and preferences of others in my work as their trusted servant.


What is a "Good Faith Estimate?"
Section 2799B-6 of the Public Health Service Act, also known as the "No Surprises Act" (H.R. 133, Public Law 116-260), is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Under this federal law, health care providers and health care facilities are required to inform individuals who are not enrolled in a plan or coverage or a Federal health care program, or not seeking to file a claim with their plan or coverage, both orally and in writing of their ability, upon request or at the time of scheduling health care items and services, of their right to receive a "Good Faith Estimate" of expected charges. Under this Federal law, individuals have the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for the total expected cost of any non-emergency items or services. This "Good Faith Estimate" includes related costs like medical tests, prescription drugs, equipment, and hospital fees. The information contained in the "Good Faith Estimate" and in the disclosure forms is also provided in compliance with the "Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act" (Ga. Code §33-20E-1) and form "Surprise Bill Exclusions" (Ga. Code § 33-20E-7). For additional information, click the link titled "No Surprises Act Disclosure" in the "Office Forms" box at the upper right corner of this page or click the following link: No Surprises Act Disclosure


How is the "No Surprises Act" regulated in Georgia?"
In Georgia, information related to "surprise billing" by health care providers is contained in several sections of law including but not limited to the "Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act" (Ga. Code §33-20E-1), "Payment for Nonemergency Medical Services" (Ga. Code §33-20E-5), and "Surprise Bill Exclusions" (Ga. Code § 33-20E-7). The rules and regulations concerning this law are contained in the Rules of Comptroller General Office of Commissioner of Insurance (Subject 120-2-106 Surprise Billing). For additional information, click the following link: Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act


How long are subsequent meetings after the first meeting?
Most people schedule meetings for one or two hours, although we can meet for additional time if you wish. Most clients prefer to meet weekly, although some prefer to meet twice weekly whereas others prefer to meet every other week. I require a minimum frequency of one meeting per month in order for someone to remain an active client.


What is the difference between counseling and psychotherapy?
The two terms are often used interchangeably because there are many more similarities than differences. Counseling has traditionally focused on helping people overcome obstacles to personal growth so that they achieve optimum development of their personal resources. Psychotherapy has traditionally focused on helping people recover from emotional distress or mental disorders that interfere with healthy functioning. For many years, I have provided education, teaching, and training for masters and doctoral level counselors and psychologists. I use techniques that are grounded in the science and theories of both counseling and psychotherapy.


How do I know if I need to be in counseling or therapy?
If you are completely satisfied with your life, satisfied with others around you, and others around you are satisfied with yourself, then you probably do not need counseling or therapy. On the other hand, if you think your life could be better in some way, then you could probably benefit from working with a professional who can help you discover some ways to live a better life.


Why should I seek counseling or psychotherapy?
Some people come because they are in crisis. In the process of resolving the crisis, they discover their strengths, learn how to build on them, and develop more resilience. This process can result in better coping skills, more fulfilling relationships, more successful careers, and greater happiness. If you want to keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy, a professional psychologist can be a wonderful resource to help you do so.


When should I seek counseling or psychotherapy?
You don't have to wait until a crisis or be psychologically disturbed to seek counseling or therapy. Most people who seek counseling have normal everyday life concerns such as work-related stress or relationship problems. Some people who seek counseling may just be in need of an emotional "tune-up."


How will I know if I'm making progress or getting better?
We will identify the goals that you would like to achieve. We will measure your improvement by evaluating your progress toward these goals as well as by assessing your ability to overcome obstacles that interfere with your progress. My philosophy is that stumbling blocks can be turned into stepping stones. You will be the first to know when you are feeling better and functioning better. If you are already feeling and functioning better, then your goals may involve finding more depth of meaning and a renewed sense of purpose in life.


How long will I need to be in counseling or therapy?
The length of time depends on the issues that you wish to address and the depth with which you wish to address them. Most clients report feeling better after a few sessions, whereas others continue for longer periods of time because they desire more permanent changes and the attainment of increasingly higher goals.


Do you provide telehealth or web-based counseling?
I meet with clients in private, individual, face-to-face sessions in my office. When there is a clear benefit to a client, I also provide telephone conferences between sessions. However, I provide phone conferencing only for clients with whom I have already established a professional relationship in the office. I do not provide counseling through video conferences, text messages, or email.


How can I explain to my family and friends that I'm seeing a "shrink"?
You may not need to say anything at all, because talking with a doctor or counselor is not even considered an unusual activity for most people. You can also say that you've found a professional who specializes in your concerns, and that you want some new ideas to help you feel better and get more out of life. You can say that you consult with someone so that you stay healthier and reach the goals that are important to you.


What is your theoretical orientation or approach to counseling?
It depends on your preferences, interests, and goals. Although I practice--and teach--several forms of psychotherapy, I prefer approaches that focus on the specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to positive outcomes. I also prefer interpersonal approaches that focus on relationships, including important relationships of the past, present, and future. I use an integrated eclectic approach to the extent that I also use various evidence-based approaches that are derived from a variety of theoretical models.


What "brand" of psychotherapeutic techniques do you use?
When we look for someone to provide a service, whether we are looking for an automobile mechanic or a vascular surgeon, our decision is not usually based on the brand of tools they use but rather the skill with which they use them. In other words, we look for competence in the expert, because part of competence involves choosing the right tools for the job. For this reason, I use different psychotherapeutic tools depending on the goals to be accomplished.


What is meant by the term cognitive behavioral "homework"?
Therapy is not a process that takes place solely during our meetings. Because it is important that you generalize what you learn in therapy to your everyday life, we will decide on homework assignments that you can work on between sessions. Homework consists of activities such as reading assignments; journaling activities; tracking your moods, thoughts, and behaviors; changing the way you communicate with others; and other beneficial activities.


Is what I share in my psychotherapy sessions confidential?
Your confidentiality is protected by the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association (APA), as well as by state and federal laws. According to Georgia law (OCGA §43-39-16), "The confidential relations and communications between a licensed psychologist and client are placed upon the same basis as those provided by law between attorney and client; and nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require any such privileged communication to be disclosed." The United States Supreme Court has upheld the psychotherapist-patient privilege in Jaffee v. Redmond (WL 315 841 US 1996), noting that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws honoring this privilege.


Why see a psychologist rather than another mental health professional?
With an average of seven years of doctoral training, psychologists are known as the educators of the mental health field. They not only practice counseling, but they often teach and conduct research in the field of counseling and psychotherapy. Psychologists have training in the application of learning principles, behavioral theories, personality formation, and normal human development throughout the lifespan.


What if I want to use my health insurance for the treatment of a mental disorder?
If you wish to use managed care or health insurance, contact your managed care company and request the name of a network provider. I do not work for managed care companies and I do not file insurance, accept insurance, or provide superbills for filing insurance.


What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists are often described as "doctors who listen." Psychologists earn doctoral degrees in clinical or counseling psychology followed by one year (minimum of 2,000 hours) of an APA-accredited internship training and one of two years of postdoctoral residency. Although psychologists perform clinical services such as psychological testing and psychotherapy, psychologists also provide nonclinical services such as relationship counseling, corporate consultations, career coaching, and sports psychology. Psychiatrists have doctoral degrees in medicine followed by internships and residency training in psychiatry, primarily focused on the biological treatment of mental illness using medications.


What if I need to be evaluated for medications or I am already prescribed medications?
Although in some states psychologists prescribe drugs, Georgia psychologists do not prescribe drugs but they do receive continuing education in psychopharmacology. Georgia psychologists are licensed to practice psychology---not medicine. A psychiatrist or other physician should be consulted for questions regarding initiation, dosage adjustment, or cessation of medication. I work with and refer to several physicians who can provide medical consultation and prescription of medication if needed. Your primary care physician can also provide prescription medication and can refer to a more specialized physician if needed.


Remember, the unquestioned answer is more dangerous than the unanswered question. If you would like to discuss my answers to your questions, please call me so we can set up a meeting.


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