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Before Scheduling Your Therapy Intake: 4 Things to Know

In today’s challenging world, mental health issues have become increasingly common. Fortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health has decreased, and more individuals are seeking help through therapy. If you’re considering starting mental health therapy, you’re taking a significant step towards improving your well-being and overall quality of life. In this quick list, we’ll walk you through the process of preparing for your intake appointment. By taking these next four steps you are setting your therapy journey up for success!

1. Finances: The Cost of Mental Health Therapy

You have two options, to use your health insurance coverage, or to decline and opt for self pay (a.k.a. cash rate). If you are selecting self pay, you as the client will be responsible for the therapist’s full rate each session. Thanks to the No Surprises Act, the therapist will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate. This document will allow you to see the total cost of treatment; and with this information you can create a budget that will include your session cost and frequency so that down the line, cost will not become a barrier to needed treatment.

Find out more about the No Surprises Act and Implementation for Maryland here.

If you are going to receive mental health therapy using your health insurance coverage, find out if the therapist is in or out of network with plan benefits. This information can be found on the insurance company’s online directory, by confirming with the practice, or contacting the customer service line (phone number can be found on the back of the insurance card). You will want to know your financial responsibility each session. Every insurance plan is different so your provider may not know your plan details during a consultation call. Before the intake appointment confirm the following information:

  • Is there an annual deductible?
  • What is your responsibility for each session copay or coinsurance?
  • Has the annual deductible been met?
  • Does your plan cover telehealth?

Once you have a clear understanding of your plan details and coverage you are now able to move forward to the next steps.

2. Consultation Calls: How to Find a Good Fit

You have found a bio that speaks to your needs and concerns but you would like to know more about how the therapist works with their clients. Scheduling a consultation call will allow you the opportunity to briefly speak with the therapist about your depressive thoughts, anxiety attacks, PTSD symptoms and more. During this call you have the opportunity to find out what methods the therapist uses for treatment (ex. DBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Attachment Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Family Therapy, etc.). The consultation call is not an interview where you have endless time for questions and reflections on past experience. The consultation call with a prospective therapist should be used to determine appropriate fit. You are looking to answer the following questions:

  • Can this provider treat your concerns/condition?
  • Do they have availability that meets your schedule?
  • Do they offer a modality of treatment you are searching for? If not, how do they treat this condition?)
  • Does the therapist feel welcoming? Will you be able to create a safe space with this person?)

The relationship between a therapist and client is ever developing. Your therapist is on the healing journey with you. It is important to have a provider that you can be completely honest with, that will provide evidence based interventions, and that will provide ethical and professional practice.

3. Location: Telehealth Vs. In Office

Telehealth had taken a surge in popularity during the health crisis where many offices were closed. Telehealth is a method of visiting with your provider either via video conferencing or telephone. Many advantages of telehealth are that you can have the session in the convenience of your home, no worrying about traffic or parking. This often alleviates a barrier to starting therapy as it can conveniently fit into your homelife schedule. For most you will only need a device (cell phone, tablet, computer) and internet service. A few insider tips to consider if choosing telehealth may be getting headphones to increase privacy and having a designated space each week for the therapy session. If you live in a home with others it may be worth letting them know you have an appointment to decrease interruptions during your session. It is possible to work with the therapist to have help in finding a confidential space for therapy.

Having therapy in the provider’s office space allows you to eliminate the worry of creating a confidential setting on your own. Your provider’s space is well equipped to address privacy, noise concerns, no concerns over internet connection. Selecting a therapist office that is close to your daily routine will increase your likelihood of commitment. When therapy is far out of our normal course, it soon becomes an additional ‘task’ and when times get tough, or stress increases we often first look at cutting out extra ‘tasks’. In selecting a therapy office, set yourself up for success by having a location that fits into your life. This can look like an office near your: home, job, grocery store, nail shop or children’s daycare. These are all places that you frequent and can easily maintain appointments.

4. Time Expectations: How Soon Can I Expect to See Results

Everyone loves the comfort of an ‘ETA’- estimated time of arrival. When will we get there, and how long will it take? This same question is frequently asked in mental health treatment. The symptoms you are experiencing may be so distressing that you are looking for urgent relief. You may be experiencing insomnia, changes in appetite, brain fog, irritability, or even social withdrawal to name a few. These types of symptoms can dramatically impact your daily functioning and how you engage in your world. By starting therapy you are looking for change. The unfortunate fact is that there is no ETA in mental health treatment. The process is so individualized that such a general statement cannot be made. The good news is that every session should bring you a step closer to the changes you want to see. For some providers that is going back to assess previous trauma which can take time to report and process. The journey is not always quick but for it to be lasting there are steps, assessments, and time to dedicate. Usually the symptoms did not arrive overnight, and so it will take some time to address them properly to create lasting change.

Starting mental health therapy is a courageous and essential step towards a happier, healthier life. Remember that you are not alone on this journey, and there are countless professionals and resources available to help you along the way. By understanding the process, setting realistic expectations, and committing to self-improvement, you can embark on a path to healing and personal growth through therapy.

If you’re looking for support, please get in touch with us via our contact form, or you can use the buttons below to book an appointment or free consultation.

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