Using insurance for therapy ...
No one wants to pay for something they can get for free or on the cheap, right? Unfortunately, with therapy, as with anything else in life, sometimes you get what you pay for.
We get calls several times a day about whether we take insurance for therapy or help people get reimbursed for their sessions if we are "out of network", or whether people can just pay whatever they want to pay.
Here’s the thing. Insurance companies in this country are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They are big, giant, faceless corporations that are out to make money, paying out the minimum of money to the providers and patients that work with them. Have dental coverage? Awesome! Have medical coverage? Also great! How could you afford that emergency appendectomy, otherwise?! But psychotherapy, or therapy, or counseling (whatever you want to call it), does not have to be part of that dysfunctional system, and certainly the way we run this practice is an attempt at doing something a bit revolutionary.
We charge rates for therapy that are much less than what other therapists in Manhattan charge, however one that allows us to keep our doors open. The clients we get to our website or who call us, are largely referred by word of mouth. We don’t buy ads. We don’t sell our souls to insurance companies so THEY can refer us clients. We just do good, effective work. How do we measure what is good & effective? We don’t let insurance companies or the DSM (the book of mental illnesses written by psychiatrists) tell us what your problem is. We use evidence-based, rational emotive behavior therapy and a series of rating scales before and after every session to see if what we’re doing is effective for you.
Using insurance means you are sick, and you have x number of treatments until you are cured. Breaking up with your partner, then wanting therapy does not count as a sickness. Your partner cheating on you and wanting to do couples therapy is not covered, because couples therapy is not covered by insurance at all, in New York, or anywhere else. We don’t think many people who need/want therapy are sick. We think that they are human. And we all need a little help to get back on track. Therapy, driven by the client, not by an insurance company, can help do that.
When people think of therapy, many still imagine they are going to lie down on a psychoanalyst’s couch (especially when people think of therapy in New York). Psychoanalysis is something that is in-depth, and is usually several times a week for several years. Psychoanalysts are licensed in New York, and not many other places, because that style of therapy is not what insurance companies think is most effective. In fact, if you notice how many people are medicated in this country, you’ll start to get the idea of what insurance companies want. You have x illness, take x pills, and only see a psychiatrist once every 3 months for 15 minutes to get your medications refilled.
Modern therapy is relatively short-term. If you decide you are in crisis, we might go twice a week. Otherwise we go once a week for 4-8 sessions, then we check in with you. If you are ready to go every other week, we go every other week. If you’ve learned how to deal with what you came in for, and you can apply what you learned to other crises that will come up in life, then we encourage you to go out there and do it- not stay in the therapy room talking about your dreams, your mom and your miserable childhood.
So that’s it. Therapy = good. And therapy is not just a way for therapists to bleed you dry. Insurance = good for dental work, not great for emotional problems that took years to create (since they’re only going to give you weeks to “cure”).
During your individual intake session we discuss your fee, which is up to $145 and based on your individual financial situation. You should know this fee is less than what people spend on going out in NYC in a weekend. This is less, sometimes, than getting your hair done. And this is certainly less than hiring an attorney and getting a nasty divorce. When working with couples, we require an intake meeting with each person individually before beginning our couples work.
Because we believe in the work we do, we want to teach you how to be your own therapist, and get you out of therapy, which sometimes can happen in a matter of weeks or months, not years. Also, therapy is not about naming your price. Our sliding scale application is based on the federal government poverty guidelines, something unique among private practices. Each of our therapists has a limited number of sliding scale clients they are able to take, because this is, after all, our livelihood. Also we want to mention that our rate has only increased by $20 in the last 7 years from $125 to our current $145 per person per session.
If you are in a serious financial crisis, there are many non-profit agencies in New York that are able to work with you. If you are wish to receive a mental illness diagnosis and work through your insurance, turn your insurance card over and call the mental health line, someone will give you a list of names and numbers to call for an in-network mental health provider. However, if you want to work with modern, effective therapists in New York to get your life back in your hands, feel free to schedule with us!
New- 10/23/2013: We are able to bill as out-of-network providers for most plans and are currently in the process of credentialing for several Affordable Care Act insurance panels.