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What's the difference between therapist, psychiatrist, and all the other options?

  • Psychiatrists are doctors (MDs) who went to medical school. They can provide both medication and psychotherapy.
  • Psychologists have their doctorate degree in psychology and are referred to as "Dr. Smith" but they cannot prescribe medications. Their additional schooling in supervised practice allows for psychotherapy services.
  • Psychotherapists (like me!) provide counseling (AKA psychotherapy). No medication prescription or guidance as I cannot recommend specific medications. However I can educate you on the process to explore medication, and provide a referral. If this is the route chosen, I'm also able to consult with the licensed professional managing your medication upon your written consent.
  • And now in more recent years there’s what’s called a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) who both can prescribe medications (some also providing counseling).

What do "out of network benefits" even mean?

  • Essentially it means if you want to work with a therapist who doesn't take any insurance, you pay for their services up front and I'll provide you with an invoice (different then a receipt) to submit to your insurance as a claim. Depending on your plan, you may get reimbursed for sessions via check sent by your insurance company. 

OK, so how do I do that? And how long will it take to get reimbursed?

  • Give the number on the back of your insurance card a call and get someone on the phone to confirm what your "out of network benefits are for behavioral health for outpatient counseling"
  • Ask them how much are you responsible to pay yourself "out of pocket" before they begin to reimburse you for sessions (what's your “deductible”? If you have one)
  • Then when you hit that number, ask them what percentage of session cost will they cover.
  • Finally, inquire what the process to submit an invoice online is in order to get reimbursed and what the turnaround time for reimbursement is (typically 3-5 business days).

While you have them on the phone, if your current plan doesn’t offer out of network benefits it’s always a good idea to see which of their plans do, just to have in mind for future open enrollment changes.

Additionally have them email you a list of "in network counselors in your zip code area". Keeping a list of therapists who take your insurance, requiring you to only pay your co-pay is always helpful to just have!

This seems like a lot, will you help me further with this?

Yes! We’ll go over this further as I guide my clients in the insurance reimbursement process. And although it feels like a lot, its just a new and different process to you. One I'll assist with!

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