How do I find a good therapist?
When you call us, we listen carefully to your concerns and help you find an experienced, licensed, feminist therapist whose areas of specialization can best meet your therapy needs and goals. Together we consider whether seeing someone individually or with important others might be more helpful. You may wish to consult with one of us. We will answer your questions and do our best to honor any preferences when helping you choose a therapist.
How does psychotherapy work? What do I have to do in my sessions?
Each person brings different concerns and goals when seeking therapy or counseling. Most callers are struggling with personal or work relationship problems, or report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, or a loss of enjoyment that interfere with sleep, mood or ability to function. Talking confidentially with a trained listener and compassionate witness enables you to move beyond the imprint of the unsatisfying and painful experiences that led to your call. We listen carefully to your concerns and consult with you about the best approaches to meet your therapy needs and goals.
We believe that psychotherapy is a journey of discovery, self-love, and healing. Typically, therapy sessions are scheduled on a weekly basis at a regular time in order to create a structure within which our work together can take place. Our contribution is to listen and utilize our understanding, skill and professional experience, to help you acknowledge, clarify your therapy needs and goals and heal. Your contribution is to participate with your therapist as openly as possible in this healing journey.
What if I need medication? Will only taking medication be enough to manage my problems?
Our humanity, relationships, symptoms, and suffering are multi-faceted requiring taking a deeper look at many health factors. These include biological, psychological, interpersonal and even spiritual aspects of daily life. Medication can be a very effective tool to promote regulation and healing. Often psychotherapy and medication work together to achieve more effective results. All medication requests must be evaluated, prescribed and followed by a psychiatrist or medical doctor. We can discuss resources with you and may be able to help you find a medication consultation. This will largely depend on your medical insurance plan and available community resources.
I am seeing a therapist and would like to see someone else. Can you help me with this decision?
Sometimes clients call us to discuss concerns about a current therapy experience. We have been able to help callers define the problem, listening carefully to their thoughts and feelings, so they can decide how best to approach the impasse when speaking with their current therapist. Discomfort and resistance at various points in a psychotherapy relationship are to be expected, especially when sensitive material is revealed.
Even in the best of therapeutic relationships, the therapist’s response may not meet with expectations and feel disappointing. We recommend speaking honestly and directly to your therapist about your thoughts and feelings. Your therapist has a professional responsibility to be helpful and take care of your best interests. Ultimately, the decision to continue or end therapy is a personal one belonging to the client.
How long does psychotherapy take?
This is an excellent question to bring to your therapist’s attention as you begin your psychotherapy consultation. Everyone’s circumstances, history, and desired outcomes are unique to them. The length of time for progress to occur and to allow you to accomplish your goals at your own pace depending on the circumstances that motivated you to initiate therapy, your desire for personal development, growth and change, and your commitment to this collaborative effort.
How much does therapy cost?
Appointment scheduling, cancellation policy, questions about fees and using your mental health insurance benefits are typically discussed during the initial contact with your therapist. Feminist Therapy Connection therapists charge $180 for each hour session. We also reserve hours, on a limited basis, in our psychotherapy practices for new patients who may need an adjusted fee. If you cannot afford our standard fee, please be sure to discuss your financial needs with your therapist during the initial contact.
What about using my mental health insurance?
This is a very frequently asked question! Insurance benefits vary widely depending on your policy which is based on your employer or state agency’s contract with that company. If you plan to use insurance for your therapy appointments, be sure to check with your health plan in advance so you know what is covered, what your benefits are, and whether you can see the therapist of your choice or if there is a pre-approved panel from which you must select a therapist. In some cases, your services may require pre-authorization before you can schedule an appointment.
Some clients prefer to pay privately to ensure confidentiality as all private health information (PHI) is now entered into a computer database. In order to reimburse you or your therapist for psychotherapy services, your insurance company requires that confidential psychotherapy information including your dates of service, diagnosis, treatment plan, and progress be submitted and reviewed for ongoing approval and authorization. In addition, some insurance plans restrict the number of visits and what types of services are covered or reimbursed. For example, many insurance companies have determined that couple therapy is not “medically necessary” and therefore not a covered benefit.
General categories include:
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) where services are offered by specific providers who are employed by or contracted with the HMO. You must select a therapist from their list of providers.
PPO (Preferred Provider Plans) are similar to an HMO and require working with an in-network therapist authorized to accept your medical care plan, and who agrees to accept reimbursement for services. Another PPO option is that your insurance company may also offer an opportunity to work with a therapist “out of network” with a higher copay cost for the patient.
Medi-Cal and Medicare require working with an in-network therapist authorized to accept your medical care plan and who agrees to accept reimbursement for services.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) may allow patients to choose any licensed psychotherapist or choose from a panel of pre-authorized therapists. Usually, EAP benefits are offered by employers to assist their employees with personal or work problems. If you have an EAP option, a specified, limited number of sessions per year are covered.
Mental Health coverage provided by some insurance plans may be more open-ended after the patient meets the annual deductible negotiated and set by your employer and the insurance company. You can then receive reimbursement for psychotherapy services according to a pre-determined percentage.
Some Questions to Ask Your Mental Health Insurance Provider About Your Coverage
- Do I have mental health benefits under my insurance plan?
- Do I need pre-authorization to start psychotherapy or can I self-refer?
- Must I choose a therapist from my health plan provider panel or will my plan cover my sessions with the “out of network” therapist of my choice?
- What is the difference in cost (my co-payment) for me to work with a therapist on my insurance panel, or to work with an “out of network” psychotherapist?
- What and how much is my annual deductible? Is there an annual or lifetime cap or limit on reimbursement for in-network and out of network psychotherapy services?
- Can I receive reimbursement from my insurance company for the cost of my psychotherapy sessions paid to my therapist? How is this amount determined and what is required to request and receive my reimbursement?
- How many sessions per calendar year will my plan cover? Is there a lifetime limit or cap?
- Does my plan have restrictions regarding my presenting problem or diagnosis?
- Is couple, family therapy or therapy for relationship problems covered by my mental health insurance plan?
- What information about me does my insurance company require that my psychotherapist provide to them in order to authorize treatment, and what is considered to be confidential?
Can you refer a feminist therapist outside of the SF Bay Area?
Most of our referrals are made to SF Bay Area therapists whose work we know and trust. Sometimes we have connections to feminist therapists and women’s therapy clinics in other geographic areas. We will do our best to refer you to a therapist outside of the SF Bay Area whenever possible.