Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is psychotherapy?
2) Why would I consider psychotherapy?
3) What are some benefits of psychotherapy?
4) How can I get the most out of my sessions with my therapist?
5) Do I need medication versus therapy?
6) How do I find the right therapist for me and/or my family?
7) What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychiatric Nurse Clinical Specialist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Professional Counselor?
8) Do psychiatrists do psychotherapy?
9) What is a psychological assessment and what does it involve?
10) Who should receive a psychological assessment?
11) Who is qualified to conduct psychological testing?
12) Will my insurance cover psychological testing?
13) Do you provide tele-mental health services?
14) Do you provide Chemical dependency and detox services?
15) Can I text or email my therapist?
16) Insurance – do you take it and how does it work
17) When is it advisable to use out-of-network benefits?
18) What is your confidentiality policy?
19) What is your cancellation policy?
20) Are weekend and evening appointments available?
21) Will you work with my child’s school?
22) What treatment is best for specific disorders?
23) Who answers the phone?
24) How long are appointments?
25) Isn’t therapy expensive?
26) What questions should I ask my therapist to be sure this is a good “fit” for me and my child?
27) How will I know I am making progress in my therapy?

1) What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is an interactional process in which you and a therapist build a confidential relationship to enhance self-awareness and explore ways to address your problematic or stressful life situations.  Because each person has different issues and goals, psychotherapy will be a unique experience for each individual.  The therapeutic relationship provides a setting in which personal strengths and resources can be identified to promote change, growth, and an enhanced self-awareness.

2)    Why would I consider psychotherapy?

-There is a crisis or there is a specific emotional or behavior problem which is affecting your functioning and happiness
-You want to acquire new coping skills or pursue a change in your life
-You are going through a difficult life transition
-You have experienced loss, illness, an employment issue, financial problems, or relationship difficulties
-You or someone you love has experienced a traumatic event
-You need support that goes beyond what talking to your family or friends can provide
-You are interested in a reliable, informed and objective point of view
-You are questioning “Who am I?” or “How could this have happened to me?” regarding a life experience
-You want to improve the quality of your life in some way

3)    What are some benefits of psychotherapy?

-Attain a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
-Develop skills to improve your relationships
-Learn new ways to cope and resolve the issues that brought you to therapy
-Improve communication and listening skills
-Gain more confidence and better self-esteem
-Learn to cope with fears/anxiety to the extent that you are no longer impaired by them
-Modify unhealthy behavior and change hurtful long-standing behavior patterns
-Identify triggers that worsen symptoms
-Improve relationships with yourself, your family, friends, or business associates
-Resolve, desensitize, or diminish the impact of traumatic experiences
-Improve ability to cope with stress
-Enhance your overall quality of life

4)    How can I get the most out of my sessions with my therapist?

-Be actively involved in the work with your therapist
-Be as honest with your therapist as you can.
-Be on time and try not to miss any of your scheduled meetings.
-Between sessions, make time to think about the things you have discussed with your     therapist.
-Journal about topics discussed and be ready to raise these topics at your appointment.
-Do any homework assignments or readings your therapist has suggested.

5)    Do I need medication versus therapy?

There are some disorders where medication should be the primary mode of treatment; some where psychotherapy can be more effective, and some where a combination of medication and therapy produces the best results. Your psychiatrist or medical doctor determines what prescription is best for you at a medication evaluation.  Medication functions by restoring proper chemical functioning in the brain.  Medication can offer relief from the symptoms of depression more quickly than psychotherapy; but this relief can disappear when the medication is no longer taken.  In contrast, psychotherapy can teach the individual how to process and cope with life’s circumstances, assist in discovering the root causes of his or her symptoms, and learn techniques to manage those symptoms without the need for medication.  Some research also has shown that individuals who receive psychotherapy, for depression for example, can have less relapses of depressive episodes.  Therefore, a combined approach of medication and psychotherapy often works best for optimal treatment of psychiatric disorders.  Any decision about taking or discontinuing your medication must be made with your prescribing doctor.

6)    How do I find the right therapist for me and/or my family?

Therapy is by no means “one size fits all.” It is important to find a psychologist that fits your needs. You should feel comfortable with your therapist, but this does not always happen after one appointment. Do not get discouraged if you don’t like the very first therapist you meet with. Finding a therapist might be a process.  Here are some guidelines that may help:
-Ask your doctor or a trusted professional; or you can call local or state     psychological/psychiatric associations such as GPA or GPPA.
-Contact your insurance company for a list of covered providers
-Ask a family member or friend for a recommendation
-Contact the local mental health community center.
-Ask your therapist about his or her training, expertise and credentials. Highly qualified therapists have been trained in a variety of educational settings, including Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), Licensed Masters Social Workers (LCSW) and licensed professional counselors (LPC).
-How many years have they been in practice?
-Are they Board Certified?
-Do they have experience in treating _____________ (briefly describe what you’ve been     struggling with)?
-Do they have expertise in working with adults…young children…PTSD…anxiety…etc?
-What kind of treatment do they use?
-Has their treatment been effective for the problems you are having?
-How long are their sessions?

7)    What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychiatric Nurse Clinical Specialist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Professional Counselor?

Psychiatrists (M.D.) are medical doctors who have gone to medical school and completed residency training and fellowships to specialize in psychiatry. Psychiatrists must pass a state-licensing exam. Child Psychiatrists have completed more specialized training in working with children. Psychiatrists can provide evaluation, diagnosis, and psychotherapy and also can prescribe and monitor medication. Conducting a medical evaluation and prescribing medication are two important ways that set psychiatrists apart from other mental health professionals.
Psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D) Psychologists complete a doctoral degree in psychology. Psychologists have expertise in providing psychotherapy, psychological testing, and diagnostic evaluations. Psychologists must pass a state-licensing exam. As part of their training, Psychologists complete approximately 4 years of pre-doctoral clinical training and 1-2 years of post-doctoral supervised work in clinical psychology. Child Psychologists focus that training on working with children and families. Psychologists do not prescribe medication. However, they often have advanced training in research and its application to mental illness, psychological assessment, and psychotherapeutic treatment for adults, children, and families.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are registered nurses who have completed a master’s degree and advanced clinical training.  A CNS must pass a state-licensing exam.  A Child-trained CNS has completed more specialized training in working with children. A Board Certified CNS can provide evaluation, diagnosis and psychotherapy and is trained to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals, couples, and families with psychiatric problems/disorders.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) are mental health workers who have completed a master’s degree in social work, followed by 1-2 years of training for clinical licensure. They have been trained to do psychotherapy with adults, children and/or families.
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) are mental health providers who have completed master’s degree in counseling. They are trained to counsel individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.  They have passed the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and are licensed in the state of Georgia to practice counseling.

8)    Do psychiatrists do psychotherapy?

Most Psychiatrists treat with medication only, but some do use psychotherapy as well. However this is usually a smaller part of their practice, as most of their time is used for medication evaluations and follow-up.  If you are interested in utilization of psychotherapy services with your Psychiatrist you may want to ask them if they offer this service.

9)    What is a psychological assessment and what does it involve?

A psychological assessment is a comprehensive approach to identifying the underlying causes of a child or adult’s learning, behavior and/or emotional problems. An assessment typically involves a full developmental history, administering a range of psychological and/or educational tests, obtaining a full developmental history, and obtaining information from teachers and others involved in the child’s care (or adult’s life, such as spouse). The assessment usually involves 5-8 hours of testing with the child and typically is completed within 1-2 sessions. A comprehensive assessment includes the following components, though the focus may vary depending on the specific presenting problems:
-Assessment measures may include the evaluation of intellectual strengths and weaknesses, academic achievement (reading, writing and math), language development, memory, attention/concentration, visual-motor coordination, and emotional and social functioning.
-Feedback session (usually scheduled within two weeks of testing) to review results and specific recommendations that address the child or adult’s relative strengths and limitations.
-A comprehensive written report detailing the results of the assessment, including information regarding strengths and weaknesses, diagnosis of any learning or emotional disorders, and treatment recommendations and intervention strategies.
-Continued consultation with educators and/or healthcare professionals involved in the child or adult’s care to ensure effective implementation of the needed interventions.

10)    Who should receive a psychological assessment?

There are many reasons for referring a child or adult for a psychological evaluation, including the frustrations and emotional struggles related to learning problems.  A thorough evaluation can accurately identify specific weaknesses and help rule out other possible contributors to the child/adult’s problem. For example, many students present with similar and overlapping symptoms, such as poor concentration, distractibility, low motivation, and general frustration regarding school.  These students may be experiencing ADHD, a learning disability, or other emotional/behavioral problems (e.g. anxiety or depression) that can interfere with their motivation and persistence to engage in tasks.  A psychological evaluation is uniquely suited to uncover such problems and to identify the most effective intervention for the identified concerns.  Click here for psychologists at CCPA, who offer these services.

11)    Who is qualified to conduct psychological testing?

Only a licensed doctoral-level psychologist is authorized to conduct psychological testing. It is important that the psychologist have specialized training in pediatric and adolescent assessment, often including neuropsychological assessment and knowledge of the varied issues related to learning disorders.

12)    Will my insurance cover psychological testing?

Fees for psychological testing are often covered under medical insurance plans; however such plans often do not cover testing for educational or academic problems.  Our office can assist you in determining whether your insurance may help in covering this service.

13)    Do you provide tele-mental health services?

Tele-mental health is a service in which clients can obtain treatment via phone or video conferencing.  Tele-mental health is covered by some insurance carriers and not others. We have therapists who are able to provide tele-mental health services through encrypted video conferencing.  Please inquire at the front desk.

14)    Do you provide Chemical dependency and detox services?

A number of our therapists help clients with alcohol and drug dependence issues often in conjunction with a client’s involvement in AA or NA. We do not provided detox services.

15)    Can I text or email my therapist?

At this time several therapists allow text and email via our secure portal.  Please check with your particular therapist to find out if your therapist has set up this secure means of contact.  Please also be aware that text and email should never be used in an emergency. Your therapist will review with you what his or her emergency procedures are.

16)    Insurance – do you take it and how does it work?

To determine if you have insurance coverage, call the mental health number on the back of your insurance card.  You will want to ask:
-Do I have mental health coverage?
-Is this therapist in my network?
-Is there a preauthorization requirement?
-What is my deductible and how much has been met?
-What is my co-pay?
-If the therapist is not in your network, it may be helpful to ask if you have out-of-network mental health benefits that you can use.

17)    When is it advisable to use out-of-network benefits?

There are times you may choose to see a particular therapist, who is out-of-network, but has specialty training for the presenting problem you are experiencing.  Ask your insurance about their coverage for out-of-network providers, as there are many times that once your out-of-network deductible is met, your session costs are similar to your in-network costs.  The advantage in choosing a therapist with specific expertise in your area of concern, is that you may to be more satisfied with treatment and might reach your goals faster.

18)    What is your confidentiality policy?

The law protects the privacy of communications between a patient and a therapist. Information can only be released about your treatment to others if you sign a written Authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by HIPAA. In instances of danger to self or others, or in the case of current child abuse, therapists may be required to break confidentiality.  Please see our New Client Form for an extensive explanation of this important topic.

19)    What is your cancellation policy?

It is not our policy to “double book” appointments, so the time is exclusively committed to your appointment.  When an appointment is missed, your therapist’s schedule is seriously disrupted as this time is not available to other clients. For this reason 24 hours notice is required of your intent to cancel an appointment. If you cancel an appointment without 24 hours’ notice, or if you miss an appointment, you will be charged the full amount of the session. As these charges are not covered by insurance, it is your responsibility, and is due within one week of the missed appointment.

20)    Are weekend and evening appointments available?

Our regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   However several therapists and our psychiatrist, have some limited evening and weekend hours.  Please check with the front office or your therapist regarding the availability of these appointments.

21)    Will you work with my child’s school?

This contact is determined by a parent’s choice.  Many times, it is helpful to talk with your child’s school counselor teacher to assess your child’s status and make recommendations; so that the school can give the right kind of support. In some cases, school-based services can be very helpful. For more serious mental health concerns, your child’s issue may be recognized through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Response to Intervention (RTI) plan that provides your child with added services and supports at school. It is important to work closely with your school to make sure your child is observed and tested so that he/she can get the right support and services if needed. For minor mental health concerns, some parents choose not to share the information with the school and are not required to share it, as this information is considered confidential.

22)    What treatment is best for specific disorders?

The mental health field has come a long way in knowing which treatments work best for certain problems, but there are often not easy answers. However a well-trained mental health professional can work with you to plan a treatment that best meets your or your child’s needs and includes our knowledge of best practices.
The first place to start is by having a thorough evaluation. During the evaluation, the therapist will collect a comprehensive history about the problem, your family, specific symptoms, and events leading up to the distress, school performance if applicable, relationships and other issues.  A clinical interview and at times some simple screening tests or rating forms may be utilized to better understand the nature of your or your child’s concerns.

23)    Who answers the phone?

During office hours you may press 0 to talk with our front office; or you may leave a message on your therapists’ voice mail.  If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency facility. The Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 is also a resource.  For further information, please see our New Client Form for an extensive explanation of this important topic.

24)    How long are appointments?

Generally, you will meet with your therapist regularly for 45-60 minutes in length, as determined by several factors.  The length and frequency of appointments varies with a number of factors including: your needs, your choice, limits set by your insurance company (which sometimes do not provide for the best interests of a client in treating a particular problem) and the severity of the symptoms being treated (often increased frequency of appointments, when symptoms are severe, can be used to prevent the need for hospitalization).  There are exceptions when a crisis occurs.  On those occasions, more extensive intervention may be required and an appointment may be longer.  After a suspension of treatment for 30 days or more, your chart will be closed, unless other arrangements have been made.  Most clients prefer to meet weekly to address difficulties effectively.

25)    Isn’t therapy expensive?

Many people worry about the cost of therapy. Yet therapy compares well with the price of other important services and personal needs such as auto repairs, dental work, health and fitness club memberships and services, legal services, accounting services, etc…  Your mental health affects your physical health. Investing in your emotional well-being can be very cost-effective in the long run.  As an example, research regarding patients, who have had a heart attack, demonstrates that patients who engaged in psychotherapy had a greater chance of avoiding another heart attack, when compared to patients who followed the same post-heart attack protocols, but didn’t have (group) psychotherapy.

26)    What questions should I ask my therapist to be sure this is a good “fit” for me and my child?

-What is your experience in working with children with issues like my child?
-What kind of training did you get to work with children with mental health issues/concerns?
-What is your approach or philosophy?
-How involved will I be in treatment and how will you keep me informed of my child’s progress?
-Will I be involved in helping to set goals for treatment?
-How long does treatment typically take and how will I know when my child has finished   treatment?
-What should I do if I have a crisis between treatment sessions or I need immediate help?
-What should I be doing at home to help support my child’s treatment?
-Is there anything out of the ordinary that I should expect because my child is in treatment?
-Are there any materials I can read to learn more about my child’s issues and concerns?
-Will my child get a formal “diagnosis” and will I have knowledge of that diagnosis?
-What information is kept in my child’s records and can others see those records?
-How should I talk to my child about what happens during treatment?

27)    How will I know I am making progress in my therapy?

Your therapist and you will set goals.  Your progress will be assessed as you progress in your coping with the problems and symptoms that have been obstacles in the past.  You should be open and honest with your therapist about what goals you are satisfied with your progress on and which ones you want to put more emphasis on.