PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORMS AHEAD OF TIME. You will get an email inviting you to my Client Portal, which is where you will read the paperwork about policies, HIPAA, and sign the consent, all of which are really important to pay attention to. Let me know if you have questions or need help with it as I do need to have them done at the first session. If you do not have the forms filled out, you will need to use part of the session time to do so. You may want to contact me with your insurance information before filling out the forms to avoid doing so and then finding out I don't take your insurance.
RESCHEDULING OR CANCELING: If you need to reschedule or cancel, you can do so using the link in the email you will get from my electronic health record, Simple Practice. You can also call or email. I ask for 24 hours notice if you're unable to keep the appointment. You will be charged for the session if you cancel less than 24 hours ahead of time, or don’t show up. I have given you a no hassle, no direct contact way to cancel, so please be respectful and cancel instead of not showing up if you change your mind about coming to the initial appointment. More details about this policy is found here.
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION Email and text are NOT secure. You may consent to communicate this way with this in mind. I also use Hushmail to do HIPAA compliant, secure email communication. Hushmail is less convenient but is secure. If you do not have a Hushmail account and want to communicate securely, I can encrypt email using a question and answer, and you can provide me with a code word to use for this purpose. You can also sign up for a free Hushmail account here. The process is a bit convoluted (they don't make the free accounts obvious), so ask me if you need help with it. I may use Hushmail at times if I need to send you confidential information or documents. For secure text, you can use the Signal app. You can always request that I not communicate with you either by text or email.
Stuff happens. Everyone misses an appointment from time to time, whether we forget or have other important things come up. I just ask that you contact me, preferably 24 hours ahead of time, but if you can't call ahead, at least let me know! I'm pretty reasonable and understanding and will work with you when you can't avoid missing your appointment. The intention behind this policy is mutual respect and consideration. I will do my best to be understanding and respectful of your circumstances, and I ask that you also be aware and respectful of my time and need to maintain an income so that I can keep offering lower fees for my clients and can be flexible with missed session fees. I believe that the many reminders that I send you, both by email and text message, should be enough in most cases to help you remember in time to cancel or reschedule in time to avoid the fee if you need to do so.
I ask for 24 hours notice if clients need to cancel or reschedule an appointment. If a client does not show up and does not call, or cancels less than 24 hours in advance, there will be a fee equal to half of your regular fee charged, regardless of the cause. If you are a new client and have not yet had a paying appointment, your fee will be half of the lowest fee on my scale, which is currently $50 (so your fee would be $25). I will not charge the fee if another appointment can be scheduled within the same week, and I will do my best to accommodate your schedule for this. In rare circumstances (for example, in the event of a true emergency), I may agree to waive the fee even if a second appointment the same week can’t be scheduled.
Many therapists require that clients have a credit card on file with them, and agree that the therapist may automatically charge it for the missed session fee. I would like to avoid doing this but would consider it in the future should this new policy be ineffective in reducing cancellations and no shows.
If I'm sick, you can expect me to stay home and reschedule our appointment, especially if what I have is contagious. I respectfully ask the same from you...if you're sick, PLEASE call and reschedule, even if it's last minute. Since I don't charge for unavoidable stuff, it's really in the best interest of everyone for you to stay home and heal up.
SUBSTANCE USE POLICY
Don't come to an appointment high! It just doesn't work, and therapy while under the influence is a waste of time. If you need help with a drug or alcohol problem, I'll be very glad to help you find a treatment program...and I can also help if the need is not great enough to warrant an inpatient stay. But I can't help you while you're under the influence. So if you're high when it's time for your appointment, call and reschedule.
OUT OF SESSION ENCOUNTERS
If I see you outside of my office, please don't be offended when I don't acknowledge that I know you or even make eye contact. I do it for your protection to preserve confidentiality, even months or years after our sessions have ended. This is common practice among therapists, so I wanted to be sure I addressed it so you won't be hurt, or think I'm being rude. It will be up to you if you decide to speak to me anyway. Just realize that others could ask you who you were talking to and how you know me, so if you don't want others to know you're in therapy, it's better that you not talk to me.
Most people pay at the end of the session, and they pay each week (as opposed to paying monthly or biweekly). I offer a sliding scale and am fine with clients paying different amounts at different times (for example, sometimes when people are doing better financially, they opt to pay me more…or when they're not doing as well, they pay me less). This is at YOUR discretion. If you are going to need to pay me less than the fee we agreed upon, I ask that you clear it with me ahead of time.
I accept pretty much every form of payment-cash, check, credit or debit card. I ask that, if you are going to pay be credit or debit card, allow a few minutes at the end of the session (before the 50 minute mark) for me to process your card. Optionally, you can use an app on your phone (if you have a smartphone of some type) that will allow you to simply tell me how much you want to pay and I can do it much more quickly without a card swipe or signature. The app is called Square Wallet and works with the Square card reader I use to process credit cards. You can download the iPhone app here and the Android app here. It's really pretty cool and easy and saves time and effort. I hope you'll give it a shot.
CELL PHONE POLICY
I LOVE my iPhone! But I turn it off during our sessions, and I hope you will turn off your cell phone (and other buzzy things!) too. How many times each week do people get to ONLY focus on themselves, and put aside the stresses of the outside world? Our sessions are the time to do that, so cell phones beeping and buzzing and ringing take away from that. If you forget (I've done it occasionally by accident too), I'm not going to glare at you and look annoyed. I think you'll get more out of our sessions if you're not interrupted and distracted, though-and I'll be able to focus better too.