Frequently asked questions
Q. Who do you treat?
Couple and Family Therapists are trained to treat individuals, couples and/or families. This includes children and adolescents. It also includes couples who are not married. It is our joy to work with couples that want to improve their relationship, teenage girls and individuals who want to find peace by looking at things in a healthier way.
Q. Is couples or family counseling covered by insurance?
Family therapy is usually covered. Couples therapy is covered by some insurances but not others. For family/couples to be covered sessions need to be treating a mental illness, or diagnosis. For couples therapy we use the code 90847. Your insurance will ask you for this code. Most EAPs (employee assistant plans) cover Couples and Family therapy. Sabrina Bowen accepts is LYRA at the Rockville, MD office/video only, Hannah Nielsen and Dr Wang-Lanterman do not accept insurance or Lyra. All of our providers are able to give you a statement for insurance reimbursement.
Q. Should I use my insurance or should I pay out of pocket?
If you use your insurance the therapist has to abide by the insurance regulations. In practical terms this means more paperwork, less privacy/confidentiality and a diagnosis. In addition, insurance only provides payment for those that have a medical/behavioral health diagnosis. Therefore, I will evaluate you and and provide an appropriate diagnosis if you want an statement to submit to your insurance.
Some people may qualify for a diagnosis but prefer to pay out of pocket so that there is no formal diagnosis being shared with a medical entity. Therefore, the option of paying without insurance is recommended if you desire a higher level of privacy and confidentiality.
Sometimes clients do not have any mental health issues but find it helpful to discuss life issues with a therapist. An example of this is therapy for personal growth. In these cases an insurance company would deny services and you would need to pay privately.
Q. How long will therapy last?
A number of factors determine the length of treatment. The reason/problem, the goals, clients' history and personalities, and external events are some of those factors. So, it is quite difficult to give a specific number. We strive to constantly communicate with our clients regarding progress. This is to ensure that treatment continues for only the absolute necessary amount of time. I have worked with clients for 3 sessions and we parted both feeling like goals were accomplished and therapy was successful. I also have worked with clients for years and know that we are making good progress in therapy. Generally speaking clients find improvement within 5-10 sessions. If are doing couples therapy we generally estimate that sessions will last from 8 to 20 sessions but some more difficult issues (e.g. trauma, infidelity, etc) can take longer.
Q. Some therapists seem better than others. Can you explain why that is?
Effective therapists know the research and use it in session. They also tend to be more direct and to form a strong alliance with their clients. Good therapists are able to empathize, and communicate with their clients. They are also able to work cooperatively with their clients to make sure that progress is made and change happens.
Q. How do I know a therapist is the right one for me?
In the first session you will be able to know if you like the therapist. Did you feel listened to? Did you feel this person was polite, friendly, professional? We believe it is important that you "click" with your therapist. Also, it is important that you feel comfortable being open, genuine and honest with the therapist. To help you get more familiar with our therapists we offer a 10-15 minute complimentary phone call.
Q. How do I know therapy is working?
You and the therapist should agree on the goal of therapy, usually that means discussing the issue that brought you to therapy in the first place. Therapy is a joint effort, so evaluating progress should be done together. Therapy is working when both therapist and client are able to verbalize the differences from the first day of treatment and when there is movement towards solving the issue that brought you to therapy.
Q. For the first couples appointment should I go by myself or should my partner go with me?
The simple answer is either. We can meet individually with you or with the two of you for the first appointment. We have two goals in the first session: to get to know you and to make you comfortable so that we can create a treatment plan that works for you. So, for the first session feel free to come by yourself or to bring your partner. If I met one of you individually and the goal is couples counseling, I will encourage an individual meeting with the other partner before we meet for the couples session.
Q. I would like for my child to attend therapy. How is the procedure?
If your child is under 18 our practice requests that we meet with at least one parent/guardian on the day of the appointment. We prefer if both parents (or guardians) are able to attend the first meeting . Afterwards it is likely that we will meet only with your child/teenager. If this happens we will give an update at the beginning or ending of the session. We may invite you to join us for part of the session.
If your child is over 18, we require that they make the appointment themselves. You can attend the session if this is okay with your child and a release is signed.
Q. Do you charge for forms? For phone calls?
Please understand that there is a fee for writing letters and filling out forms; we will be happy to give you an estimated cost of the letter or form once the requested documents have been received and reviewed. Generally speaking our hourly rate is divided by the amount of time it takes me to write or fill out the forms.
Phone calls are charged at our hourly rate and not covered by insurance. Phone calls made to schedule appointments are not charged.
Q. I am interested in Premarital counseling. Is that covered by insurance?
No. To use insurance you must have a diagnosis (meaning a set of symptoms that are negative). Usually premarital couples are having positive interactions and look for premarital counseling as a prevention. Premarital counseling is a wonderful way to start your marriage as it decrease changes of divorce by roughly 30%.
Q. Is therapy expensive?
Yes. There are several logical reasons for this. We are required to have an extensive academic background and thousands of hours of experience before getting licensed. Some unlicensed therapists are able to offer more affordable therapy since they are just starting. Once licensed, we are required to take a number of credits of continuing education and most licensed therapist continue to pursue extensive specializations. Sabrina Bowen for instance is a level 2 Gottman therapist and has extra training in Emotionally Focused Therapy. Both are specializations that make one more qualified to work with couples. So a therapy hour includes our education, attention, experience and time (and I have not even mentioned yet our businesses expenses).
Another thing to keep in mind is how expensive divorce is. Most divorce attorneys will require a retainer usually from 5 to 20 thousand per partner. Even if a mediator is chosen instead of a divorce attorney their hourly rate are usually double ours. So, therapy is generally much more affordable than getting divorced.
Please keep in mind that therapy generally improves mental health. It is a helpful tool to heal relationships, bring light to unhealthy patterns and to create change. So therapy is expensive, but worth it.