Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect when I arrive for my first an appointment with you or bring in my child for a first appointment with you?
Upon your first arrival we will get you started with an initial evaluation, that will go over everything that is currently affecting your life, psychiatric and medical history, current and past medications and allergies, social history (work, school, job, relationship, military, abuse history, living situation, etc.), family history, as well as many other systems which factor into your day to day life. For children we will also review gestation and developmental history. While this evaluation may seem extremely extensive, possibly even irrelevant, all these areas may factor into what is going on with you or your child. Initial appointments typically last from forty-five minutes to an hour. Some may take as much as two or more hours for patients who desire a more holistic approach which further involves an assessment of dietary, exercise, sleep habits, and other environmental factors.
Follow up appointments for evaluations can be expected to be much briefer then the initial evaluation. The initial post-evaluation appointment will further review any changes that may have occurred to psychiatric, social, or medical history including current medications and/or any adverse effects or other concerns. These appointments range from thirty minutes to an hour.
What type of mental health professional should I see?
The goal of all mental health providers is to provide the best mental health treatment service for you. The decision as to which type of provider (psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, psychologist, or other therapist) to utilize depends on what treatment and modality works best for you. A summary of each method of treatment is listed below, however this brief description by no means encompasses all the skills or techniques these providers may offer.
Psychoanalysts base their therapies around unconscious factors that may impact an individual’s emotions and behaviors, creating unhappiness which is hard to address without the help of a specialist who can recognize proper symptoms. During an analysis, an individual is made aware of the underlying sources of their difficulties, and becomes more comfortable opening up to the professional about their thoughts in a non-judgmental, healing setting. Treatment demonstrates how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, traces them back to their historical origins, illustrates how they have changed and developed over time, and find methods of coping. The patient is able to gain new insight into their conditions and make deep and abiding changes to their daily life.
Psychologists often provide what is best known as “psychotherapy” which may be hour-long weekly sessions (some more, some less depending on individual patients needs and preferences). The goal in the basic sense, is to provide guidance to an individual with struggles such as processing stressors or traumas, improving communication in relationships, or changing maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors. In addition to these skills, psychologists may perform psychological testing for neuropsychological assessments for the appraisal of difficulties such as attention deficit disorders, personality disorders, or psycho-educational evaluation to evaluate learning disabilities.
Psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners center their focus on the more biological and genetic treatment of mental health conditions. Many of these professionals often incorporate different types of therapy or alternative treatments such as nutritional, natural supplements, behavioral changes and mindfulness practices, into the overall mental health treatment. Psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners often act as psychopharmacologists who incorporate medication as a form of their treatment, focusing primarily on the biological, genetic, and neurological/neurobiological aspect of mental health.
May I join in a session with my child if I wish?
Absolutely! For the treatment of children in particular, providers must get perspective of the patient’s life from key people who can bring up topics which the child may be hesitant to discuss. However, you may be asked to step out of the room from time to time or for an appointment to be solely with your child so that the provider can talk to the child one on one. This is to determine if there are things which the child feels more comfortable discussing without a parent present. Furthermore, both parent and the child should know that nurses, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, psychologist, etc. are legally bound by HIPPA which protect patient-provider confidentiality. There may be things discussed that your child does not want shared with you, which by law, the provider must honor. The provider can share medical and psychiatric information with patient’s consent, a court order, in certain emergent situations or if a person is an imminent danger to themselves or to others, or otherwise the patient’s inability to take care of their basic needs. While this may sound intimidating to parents, it is important to remember that a good provider will find a way to work with the child in order to find a way to make him/her comfortable expressing or discussing the issue at hand with their parent or loved one.
If I feel that my current provider isn't helping, what can or should I do?
The goal of any treatment is to best benefit your needs! You are free to express all your needs and concerns, and to seek treatment from whomever you feel most comfortable and from whom you are receiving the best care. If you believe that a medication is not helping or has intolerable side-effects, or that the particular therapy style isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to speak up! This is YOUR TIME and YOUR TREATMENT, and the goal of an effective professional is always to make sure that you receive the care that you need. A particular phenomenon can occur when patients are worried about ‘disappointing’ or upsetting their provider; however it is vital that you remember that this is all about you. It is not about us. Just like everyday life, there will be people who click and people who do not. There are different styles and different preferences, all of which are perfectly fine. One of the most important aspects of treatment is that you feel comfortable with your provider, if this is not the case I will gladly recommend someone to you that may be a better fit. If you feel as if you need to make a change, please make it!
I think I need help, but I'm really afraid of medications. What alternatives are there?
In some situations prescription medication is necessary or highly recommended, however there are always alternatives that your provider will be happy to discuss with you. Ask your provider about nutritional and lifestyle modifications, supplements, and other complementary theories (acupuncture, sensory deprivation therapy, etc.) which your provider will gladly discuss. Furthermore, “talk therapy” can be a helpful alternative in order to cope and overcome certain mental health issues.
I'm afraid to get treatment because I don't want it to go on my medical “record.” What can I do?
Mental health conditions are no different from any other medical condition. If you had a broken arm, would you forego treatment because you did not want anyone to find out about it? No, you would have a medical professional look after it. As a society we sometimes seem to place a stigma around mental health treatment. However, if you are feeling uneasy about seeking treatment, keep in mind the following: While insurance companies may be providing coverage for your visits with a mental health provider or for psychotropic medications, no one can access this information from the insurance company or otherwise without your explicit consent or without a court order. If you are admitted to a psychiatric hospital on an involuntary hold (such as if you were an imminent danger of harming yourself or others, or you were otherwise unable to provide basic care to yourself due to a mental health issue) and were unwilling to accept hospitalization voluntarily, this may be reported to a database for background checks relating to the purchase of firearms for a period of years (although laws vary by state).
I need help now. What do I do?
If you need help now, ask for help. If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency go to your nearest emergency department or call 911. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-8255. While we are not an emergency psychiatric facility, our primary job is to protect your safety and promote your wellness. In order to protect the wellbeing of yourself or others, we are required to contact emergency services if an individual is an immediate threat to themselves or others.