Welcome, thank you for choosing Breakthrough Counseling Services, LLC. This document is designed to answer some frequently asked questions about myself, the process, our professional relationship, confidentiality, and your finanical obligations. As you read this feel free to mark any places which are not clear to you or write in any questions which come to mind, so we can discuss them. Both of us need to be clear as to what your needs are and how I can best serve those needs. This will allow us to work most productively and comfortably together. So, in order to accomplish this, we will enter the necessary information in the provided spaces, as well as sign and date the appropriate pages. You will have the original for periodic review. If our work together uncovers a problem area beyond my expertise, I will help you obtain services from an appropriate specialist.
The document (the agreement) also contains important information about my professional and business policies. You also have the right to obtain or review summary information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act (HIPAA), a federal law that provides privacy protections and patient rights with regard to the use and disclosure of your Protected Health Information (PHI) used for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations. The law requires that I obtain your signature acknowledging that I have given you the opportunity to review HIPAA regulations. When you sign this document, it will also represent an agreement between us. You may revoke this agreement in writing at any time. The revocation will be binding on me unless I have taken action in reliance on it; if there are obligations imposed on me by your health insurer in order to process or substantiate claims made under your policy; or if you have not satisfied any financial obligations you have incurred.
The professionals at Breakthrough Counseling Services, LLC are trained and specialize in a wide variety of areas. The professionals are licensed in their state they are practicing. In addition, the professionals at Breakthrough Counseling Services have a diverse background and training in their fields. Please feel free to ask me any specific questions that pertain to my educational background, approach, and training.
The ultimate goals of counseling would be to gain self-awareness into what is disturbing you; explore and understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; to seek a greater sense of happiness and contentment; and for you to choose and maintain behavioral changes. To acheive these goals, some persons need only a few sessions, whereas others may require months or even years. Most therapy sessions will be 45-55 minutes in length. Your provider will also go over their fees, explain how many meetings should occur, and help you to reach your goal in their specific area.
With some issues, there are no instant, painless, or passive cures- "no magic pills." Instead, there will be serious exploration of your history, feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and how you interact with others. There may be "homework" where you will have to think and feel, observe yourself and how you interact and even complete assignments, exercises, keep diaries, or other projects. Change sometimes is easy and swift. However, for the most part, change is slow, frustrating, and requires hard work and dedication on your part. I will assit and help you in all of your struggles along the way.
I do not take on a client whom, in my professional opinion, I cannot help using the knowledge and techniques I have available. If I do not feel that I can be of help, I will refer you to others or agencies which would be better able to serve your needs. If necessary, I will make these referrals at our inital conversation on the telephone or in our intial meetings. In some cases, it takes multiple meetings to assess one's needs. We may come to a point where I feel that I can no longer meet your needs. If that occurs, we will talk about the issues and I will direct you to the person or services, which will be better able to serve your needs.
Due to my schedule, I am often not immediately available by phone. I am usually with clients. Therefore, you may leave a message with the front desk for the office staff to forward to me. I will make every effort to return your call on the same day you make it, with the exceptions of weekends and holidays. If you are difficult to reach, please inform me of some times when you will be available. In emergencies, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. If you are unable to reach me and feel that you can't wait for me to return your call, contact your family physician or the nearest emergency room. If I will be unavailable for an extended period of time, I will provide you with the name of a colleague to contact, if necessary.
I regard the information and feelings you have expressed with me with the greatest respect. In general, I will tell no one what you tell me. The privacy and confidentially of our conversations and records are a privilege of yours and is legally protected by state law and my ethical principles. However, Insurance companies, but more likely, managed care companies (HMO, PPO, etc) may ask for my progress notes for more detailed information on your symptoms, diagnosis, issue, or my treatment plans or methods. For managed care, after a certain number of visits or an amount of time, I have to submit a treatment plan. The treatment plan consists of all identifying information, diagnosis, treatment goals and approach, and other information. I will review these treatment plans with you at any time. However, after submitting a treatment plan or billing to a managed care company or insurance company, in today's world, everything is entered into a computer. Your name, diagnosis, and information/issues could be obtained by someone else. I try to enter on a treatment plan or claim form the minimum information necessary. You will always have the choice of not submitting your bills to your insurance company.
In addition, there are certain situations where what you say and who you are may be discussed or heard by another person. I may consult with another colleage regarding some aspect of your situation. I may at times talk with other persons, such as your physician, attorney, social service worker, or another mental health professional. However, if I need to speak with one of these professionals I will obtain a signed release of information form from you.
Secondly, upon occassion, I am away from the office. I have a trusted fellow professional to "cover" for me at all times. He or she will be available for emergencies or anything urgent. If I feel that you may call while I am away, I will let him or her know in order to enable him or her to be better able to respond.
Thirdly, by law, I am required to report any evidence of child abuse or strong suspicions of child abuse or neglect. I am also mandated to report abuse of handicapped or elderly persons.
Fourth, if subpoenaed to provide information in a court of law, I will first assert client-therapist privilege, if it applies. However, I can be ordered by a judge to disclose that information.
Fifth, parents have the right to any and all information regarding their dependent. Because the presence of trust is important in the therapeutic relationship between your dependent and myself it is generally best that we do not share specifics of individual sessions with you. However, you have the right and responsibility to question and understand the nature of your dependents' treatment and the progress being made. If your dependent is able to understand the issue of confidentiality, I will discuss with him/her the type of information that will be shared with you. If you have any objections to the manner in which information is shared with you regarding your dependent, we will need to resolve those differences before therapy begins.
Finally, if in my judgement, I feel any person is in serious and immediate risk of harming him/herself or another person, or will engage in criminal behavior, I will break confidentiality. I will notify other family members, the person to who harm is intended or the police in order to maintain safety.
To repeat, confidentiality will be maintained. It is only under the above situations that information will be imparted to others. Thus, you and your records have the privilege of privacy and confidentiality, but there are limits and boundaries. Please feel free to discuss your confidential exceptions with me at any time. This is particularly important from the onset of our meetings.
Termination is inevitable and it should not be done casually. Either of us may terminate our work together if we believe it is in your best interest. You can terminate at any time. I ask that we discuss the termination before we actually stop services in order to review goals and accomplishments, and any future issues to resolve later. Finally, termination means we have met our goals, but we can always work together again in the future. Termination is never final and the door will always be open for you at any time.
Please be advised that there are various persons who work in the same office as me. Knowing there are other people in the office that may become aware of you being a client, you agree to hold any other professional in the office harmless and/or not liable for any legal or civil action.
HIPAA provides you with several rights with regard to your clinical record and disclosure of protected health information. These rights include requesting that I amend your record; requesting restrictions on what information in your clinical record is disclosed to others; requesting an accounting of most disclosures of protected information; having any complaints you may make about my policies and procedures recorded in your records; and the right to paper copy of this agreement, the attached Notice Form, and the privacy policies and procedure. I am happy to discuss any of these rights with you.
Billing and Payment
You will be expected to pay for each session at the time it is held. Payment schedules for other professional services will be agreed to when they are requested. In circumstances of unusual financial hardship, I may be willing to negotiate a fee adjustment or payment installment plan.
If your account has not been paid for more than 60 days and arrangements for payment have not been agreed upon, I have the option of using legal means to secure the payment. This may involve hiring a collection agency or going through small claims court which will require me to disclose otherwise confidential information. In most collections situations, the only information I release regarding a client's treatment is his/her name, the nature of services provided, and the amount due. If such legal action is necessary, its cost will be included in the claim.
In order for us to set realistic treatment goals and priorities, it is important to evaluate what resources you have available to pay for treatment. If you have a health insurance policy, it will usually provide some coverage for mental health treatment. I will fill out forms and provide you with whatever assistance I can in helping you receive the benefits to which you are entitled; however, you (not your insurance company) are resonsible for full payment of my fees. It is very important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers.
Due to rising cost of healthcare, insurance benefits have increasingly become more complex. It is sometimes difficult to determine exactly how much mental health coverage is available. Managed Health Care Plans such as HMOs and PPOs often require authorization before they provide reimbursement for mental health services. These plans are often limited to short-term treatment approaches designed to work out specific problems that interfere with a person's usual level of functioning. It may be necessary to seek approval for more therapy after a certain number of sessions. Your signature allows me to submit a treatment plan to request further time or number of visits.
You should be aware that your contact with your health insurance company requires that I provide it with information relevant to the services that I provide for you. I am required to provide a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes I am required to provide additional clinical information such as treatment plans or summaries, or copies of your entire clinical record. In such situations, I will make every effort to release only the minimum information about you that is necessary for the purpose requested. This information will become part of the insurance company files and will likely be stored in a computer. Though all insurance companies claim to keep such information confidential, I have no control over what they do with it once once it is in their hands. In some cases, they may share information with a national medical information databank. I will provide you with a copy of any treatment plan I submit, if you request it. By signing this Agreement, you agree that I can provide requested information to your carrier. However, it is important to remember that you always have the right to pay for my services yourself to avoid the problems described above.