The following information outlines our office policies regarding psychological services, confidentiality, record keeping, telephone availability, and emergencies. Should you have any questions regarding these policies, please do not hesitate to call us and/or raise questions with your therapist during session.
Psychotherapy varies considerably with respect to theoretical orientation, choice of intervention/technique, and duration of treatment. One may seek psychotherapy for a vast array of difficulties, discomforts, and/or curiosities. Moreover, beginning psychotherapy involves a thoughtful commitment of time, energy, and financial resources. It is therefore essential that in selecting a psychotherapist, you carefully consider the different treatment options and clinicians available to you.
Initial Evaluation: Our normal practice is to conduct an initial evaluation, which typically lasts 2-3 sessions. During these initial sessions, your therapist will gather information regarding you and/or your child's current difficulties and psychiatric, medical, and family history. Upon completing this evaluation, your therapist will discuss with you his/her initial diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations, and outline an initial treatment plan. At this time, you and your therapist can both decide whether he/she is the appropriate clinician to meet your treatment needs.
Orientation: Our therapists are trained in a number of therapeutic modalities (including, but not limited to, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, play therapy, etc.), and will select appropriate therapeutic interventions based on your difficulties and needs. Should you have any questions regarding your therapist's orientation or the differences among therapeutic paradigms, we encourage you to voice these questions as soon as they arise, so that your therapist might address them as needed.
Sessions: When psychotherapy is initiated, your therapist will typically schedule one 50-minute session per week. Our therapists are happy to schedule more frequent sessions if necessary, and to reduce the frequency of sessions (i.e., to once every 2-3 weeks) toward the end of therapy.
Because appointment scheduling involves the reservation of time specifically for you, it is important to provide at least 48-hours notice should you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment; otherwise, the full fee will be charged for missed sessions and due at the time of your next appointment. We certainly expect to make exceptions to this policy for physical illness, inclement weather, or any unanticipated circumstance that could reasonably be called an "emergency."
Sessions generally start on time. Occasionally, your therapist may be up to 10 minutes late. If your therapist begins a session late, he/she will make up the missed time in some mutually agreeable fashion, usually be extending the session, if convenient, or reducing the fee accordingly. Should you arrive late to your appointment, the session will still end at the regularly scheduled time.
Termination: Because therapy is a highly individualized matter, it is often difficult to predict its exact duration. It is wise to inquire about the anticipated length of therapy, even though the answer may not be precise. Typically, therapy ends when you and your therapist decide that you have made satisfactory progress in achieving treatment goals.
Should you wish, at any time, to consult with or transfer to another therapist, we will be happy to assist you in finding a qualified clinician. With your written consent, our office will gladly provide another therapist with information regarding your treatment to-date and ongoing therapeutic concerns. You have the right to terminate therapy at any time, but we recommend you discuss your plans to end therapy well in advance so that you and your therapist can review progress and process termination. In therapy, good-byes are as important as hellos.
Alternately, your therapist may choose to terminate therapy earlier than predicted for one of the following reasons: inability to maintain a frequency of sessions recommended to support significant change, noncompliance with treatment plan, need for services we am unable to provide, minimal progress despite appropriate treatment, and/or reasons related to your therapist's personal needs.
It is important you know that your privacy in consulting with a licensed psychologist is protected by law, and your disclosures are generally held to be confidential. In the case of these sessions, you hold the legal right of privileged communication, which means that in a court of law, your psychologist may not reveal any information your have revealed in session, unless compelled by a court order or a valid subpoena.
In general, a mental health professional may not reveal any personally identifiable information about you to anyone, unless you first provide authorization by signing a consent form (exceptions discussed below). For example, in the event that it would be beneficial to discuss aspects of your treatment with a third party (e.g., consultant, referring psychiatrist, physician, etc.) and if you would be personally identified, your therapist would first discuss this with you and obtain your written consent. Occasionally, your therapist may find it helpful to consult about your case with other professionals. In these consultations, your therapist makes every effort to protect your identity. The consultant is also legally bound to maintain confidentiality.
Exceptions to Confidentiality: There are circumstances when a psychologist may break confidentiality, or is required to break confidentiality. Should such a circumstance arise, your therapist will make every reasonable effort to discuss with you his/her ethical or legal obligations to disclose confidential information before doing so. Exceptions to confidentiality include, but are not limited to, the following circumstances:
1. If the therapist has reasonable suspicion that a minor/child, elderly person, or disabled person is being abused or neglected, the therapist must report this to the appropriate agency.
Information Accessible by Our Office Manager and Support Staff: Our Office Manager interfaces regularly with new and current patients. Our office Support Staff (e.g., billing service, IT consultant, etc.) works behind the scenes to enhance patient services and ensure administrative efficiency. In the course performing their professional responsibilities, our Office Manager and Support Staff may have access to practical information in your clinical record necessary to perform adequately their work responsibilities; this information includes but is not limited to the following:
2. If the therapist believes a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, he/she is required to take protective actions, which may include notifying the potential victim, notifying the police, and/or seeking appropriate hospitalization for the patient.
3. If the therapist believes a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to him/herself, the therapist may be required to seek hospitalization for the patient, or to contact family members or others who can provide protection.
Our Office Manager and Support Staff will not have access to your progress notes. Moreover, all staff employed by or working as an independent contractor with Therapy Dallas have signed a written agreement to keep confidential any and all information listed above.
- Identifying information (e.g., name, date of birth, etc.)
- Contact information (e.g., phone number(s), e-mail address, mailing address, etc.)
- Patient Forms (e.g., Authorization to Release Information; General Information; Therapy Contract and Office Policies, etc.)
- Intake information (typically gathered during initial session)
- Billing information (e.g., statements, which may include diagnostic codes; outstanding balances; payment history, etc.)
We are required by both the law and the standards of our profession to maintain appropriate treatment records. These may include diagnosis, therapy goals, progress in treatment, documentation of mandated disclosures (e.g., report of child abuse), and other information. You have a right to review and/or receive a copy of your records unless doing so would be likely to cause you substantial harm, endanger your life or physical safety, or pose a significant risk of harm to another individual. Alternately, our office can prepare an appropriate summary of these records. Given their inclusion of professional language, these records may be difficult to interpret or understand. If you wish to review your records, we recommend you review them in your therapist's presence, to allow for adequate discussion of their content.
TELEPHONE AND E-MAIL AVAILABILITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Incoming calls and voicemails are received and managed by our Office Manager, who will either respond to you directly or forward your call/message to your therapist. Typically, our Office Manager returns any and all calls pertaining to non-clinical issues (e.g., scheduling, billing, etc.), and will forward to your therapist any calls or voicemails pertaining to clinical matters. Telephone calls are typically returned within 24-48 hours, during normal business hours. Our therapists do not answer the phone if consulting with a patient or in a meeting, so your therapist typically will not be immediately available by telephone. We check voicemails frequently, however, and return calls as promptly as possible during business days. We generally do not return calls after 5:30pm on business days or on Saturdays or Sundays, unless the call is urgent, in which case we will return it as soon as reasonably possible.
E-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be received and managed by our Office Manager, who will either respond directly to you (if the message pertains to non-clinical issues), or forward your message to your therapist (in the event your message pertains to clinical issues). Your therapist may also provide you with his/her direct e-mail, in which case any e-mails sent to this particular address should route directly to your therapist. Although e-mail has become an increasingly popular mode of communication between healthcare offices/providers and patients, it's important you acknowledge that our office cannot guarantee the security of any information exchanged via e-mail. For this reason and others, our office aims to keep outbound e-mails relatively brief, and pertaining to practical (rather than clinical) matters. Please note that our therapists do not conduct therapy via e-mail, and cannot respond to urgent matters received by e-mail.
It is important you understand that we do not provide emergency services. In an emergency situation, please call 911, contact your primary care doctor, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. If your therapist is unavailable for an extended period of time (e.g., due to professional conferences or vacation), he/she will provide the name and number of another Therapy Dallas clinician whom you may contact if necessary.