Who should I see?

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians who specialize in mental health and can prescribe medication as part of your treatment. Psychiatrists also provide consultation and evaluation to clarify your mental health needs, so may prescribe ‘therapy.’ Several of our psychiatrists also provide therapy that focuses on talking through problems and issues.

Psychologists are licensed mental health provides who have completed a doctorate or Ph.D. They have specialized training in psychological testing to help with diagnosis and treatment. Most of our psychologists spend the majority of their time in direct treatment and therapy—figuring out what you need to get feeling better, but some also spend time doing assessments and evaluations.

Clinical Social Workers have completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work and are licensed to help you with a wide range of issues that affect your well-being.  The social work perspective is one of “person in environment,” and exploration of contributing factors—job, school, marriage, family relationships, and life transitions—is customary.

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What can I expect at my first meeting?

The first meeting is different than follow-up appointments because:

  • time is spent reviewing paperwork and discussing treatment
  • it is a give-and-take interview that may seem different than therapy

By the end of the first meeting you should:

  • know whether to schedule another appointment
  • know if you need to contact other providers
  • have a good idea of your next steps toward feeling better

Most of the first meeting is spent in an interview with the clinician asking questions about your current concerns and your personal history. By the end of the first appointment, you and your clinician should be able to formulate a general plan of how to proceed. You might continue to work with that clinician, be referred to someone who might better meet your needs, or be asked to expand your treatment to include other providers. The core issues will be identified and if you are using insurance, you will have a diagnosis (i.e. a formal way of categorizing your mental health needs).
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Will insurance pay for treatment?

If you choose to use insurance, you are responsible for understanding your policy. Check with their benefits coordinator to verify coverage for you and your provider, and to check for prior authorization requirements. Treatment that is ‘medically necessary’ is usually covered, but some policies have specific restrictions you need to know about.

Services that are not directly related to patient care are rarely covered by insurance. Things like team meetings to coordinate care (mostly for children and teens), phone consultations, copying of medical records for legal cases, non-clinical reports (e.g. for a school or legal issue), or coordinating on a legal issue are usually out-of-pocket expenses. We will work with your insurance company to help you get the coverage you deserve.
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What should I tell my doctor if I try medication?

If you work with a psychiatrist who prescribes medication to help you, it is important for you to tell your other doctors what you are taking. Some psychiatric medications interact badly with common medications, so you should list all your medications whenever any physician asks, including your psychiatrist. Most physicians have numerous patients who take medications for mental health problems, so are not surprised if you are receiving medication from a psychiatrist. What you tell your primary care physician about other aspects of your treatment or the personal issues that affect your mental health is up to you. If your psychiatrist would like to discuss your overall health with another physician, he or she will get a signed release before information is shared.
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What should I bring to the first appointment?

Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to complete your paperwork.

You need to bring:

  • a copy of your insurance card
  • any information about prior authorizations from your insurer
  • a parent or legal guardian who can consent to treatment for a child or teen

You might also bring:

  • names and contact information for previous treatment providers
  • reports from test results or legal proceedings that might be important
  • print-outs of any forms you completed on-line

At your first appointment we will obtain general information about you, a fee agreement and specific permission to bill your insurance company if you choose. Your clinician will also provide an overview of mental health treatment so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment. If a child or teen is being treated, consent must be obtained from the parent or legal guardian in order to begin treatment. Teens who are 14 years old or older are also asked to consent to treatment.

If your clinician determines that there are other people (such as physicians, teachers, etc.) who might be able to provide useful information about your treatment, you will be asked for written permission to talk with them or obtain their records. Teens will also be asked for their permission before anyone is contacted.
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