Life and Light Counseling

Frequently Asked Questions

Psychotherapy FAQs

How do I Choose a therapist?

The key to successful therapy is finding the right therapist for you. However good a therapist may be, it is the relationship between the two of you that determines whether you trust them, and they come to understand you enough, to help you explore and find solutions for your problem.

Some therapists specialize in particular problems. Having found a therapist you can talk to them on the telephone, to see if they have appointments available at a time and place that suits you, if they feel they could help you with your problem. Don't be surprised if you get an answering machine when you call: these are used because they don't want to be interrupted when meeting a client, but they will return your call.

You can meet your therapist for a single session, to discuss what you are looking for from therapy, to help you decide whether they are the right therapist for you.  Only you can decide, do not be afraid to ask questions or request further information before making your mind up. 

How much therapy will I need?

This depends on you, your therapist, the type of therapy they practice, and how complex or deep-seated the problem is that you are trying to deal with.

At your first meeting you should discuss this with your therapist who will be able to make an estimate, but some people respond more quickly to therapy and others take longer, so don't expect a definite answer.

It is unusual for therapy to last less then six sessions.  Some types of therapy may last for two years or more. 

Therapy can be a difficult experience, and it may be some time before you start seeing results.  It is easy to miss sessions if you find something painful to discuss or think about.  This is when you most need to go, you can discuss your difficulty with your therapist so they can try to help you deal with it.

What is the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practicioner and psychotherapists?

A psychiatrist is a physician and has been uniquely trained in prescribing psychotropic medication. In our managed care world, most psychiatrists do not see people for psychotherapy.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is an advanced-practice registered nurse who provide comprehensive mental health care including prescribing medications. 

A psychologist has a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree and has been trained in counseling and psychological testing. Some however have had other types of training such as research or working with businesses.

A social worker has an M.S.W. degree and is trained in working with social service programs and psychosocial counseling.

A psychotherapist / Professional Counselor is generally someone with at least a Master's Degree in some area of counseling or a religion degree. It is important to understand their training, degree, and license(s) and certification.

Before beginning psychotherapy with anyone, it can be helpful to check with their particular licensing board to see if there are any outstanding complaints about them or any type of disciplinary action that has occurred.

How long is a therapy session?

A typical therapy session is 50 minutes.  Occasionally, therapists and clients will agree upon an extended session length to address a particular individual situation or for couple or family work.

When should I seek counseling?

From childhood through late adulthood, there are certain times when we may need help addressing problems and issues that cause us emotional distress or make us feel overwhelmed. When you are experiencing these types of difficulties, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional. Professional counselors offer the caring, expert assistance that we often need during these stressful times. A counselor can help you identify your problems and assist you in finding the best ways to cope with the situation by changing behaviors that contribute to the problem or by finding constructive ways to deal with a situation that is beyond your personal control. Professional counselors offer help in addressing many situations that cause emotional stress, including, but not limited to:

  • anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders
  • the death of a loved one
  • family and relationship issues
  • substance abuse and other addictions
  • sexual abuse and domestic violence
  • eating disorders
  • career change and job stress
  • social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness
  • adapting to life transitions

Is everything I say confidential?

Most state licensure laws, including Minnesota protects client confidentiality. As a client, you are guaranteed the protection of confidentiality within the boundaries of the client/counselor relationship. Any disclosure will be made with your full written, informed consent and will be limited to a specific period of time. The only limitations to confidentiality occur when a counselor feels that there is clear and imminent danger to you or to others, or when legal requirements demand that confidential information be disclosed such as a court case. Whenever possible, you will be informed before confidential information is revealed.

Does couples counseling work?

The answer is yes. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy ,research indicates that couples and family counseling is helpful for relationships. Greater than 75% of couples were better off than those in the same situation that did not receive counseling. The couples that went to counseling reported a “significant” improvement in relationship satisfaction.

Some of the factors that contribute to a better outcome are commitment to therapy, a general openness and willingness to change.

Do you accept insurance? 
I am currently paneled with United Health Care/Medica/Optum; Medical Assistance (MA-MN), Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN, Hennepin Health, HealthPartners, Preferred One, Cigna, UCare, and Aetna.

Telehealth FAQs

What is Telehealth? Telehealth is the use of video and audio technologies to support long-distance services between providers and their clients.

What equipment do I need to join a session? You’ll need the below to join a Telehealth (online therapy) session with your provider:

  • A computer, tablet, or phone (no applications or software to download).
  • An external or integrated webcam.
  • An external or integrated microphone.
  • An internet connection with at least 10 Mbps download speed per person and 1 Mbps upload speed per person (check internet speed here)

Do I need a specific internet browser?

If you’re using a Desktop or Laptop, we recommend: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari
We recommend the below if you’re using a tablet or mobile phone: Android - Google Chrome; iOS 11 or newer (iPhone or iPad) - Safari

How do I join our session? On a desktop/laptop use the unique link shared by your provider to join the meeting. If you choose to use a smartphone, you may need to first download the app from the Apple app store or Google Play store. 

Will our sessions be recorded? No. HIPAA compliant videoconference platforms do not allow for session video or audio to be recorded.

Billing FAQs

 How does billing work? 

First your therapist will send you paperwork to compete online via the online client portal. The therapist will then do a benefits check with your insurance company. It is always a good idea that you check with your insurance company as to your outpatient psychotherapy benefits, so you are aware of your financial responsibilities. Next, your therapist will bill your insurance (or bill you if you are paying privately) following each of your services (this is called sending a claim). Insurance will take about 1 to 5 weeks to process claims following which we determine your responsibility.  E.g. if the contracted rate with your insurance for a 60 minute psychotherapy session is $100, and upon processing the claim insurance pays out $90, then your responsibility is $10. Your portion is determined by factors such as your copay, coinsurance and deductible.

How does payment work?

You can pay your therapist at the time of the session in cash or check. Alternatively, you can choose to put your credit card on file via the client portal. Any amount that is your responsibility will be charged to your card. We charge a 3% credit card processing fee which is the approximate fee that our credit card  provider charges us for each transaction (This fee is waived for HSA/FSA cards).

Why am i charged different amounts at different times?

1) You may have been charged for more than one date of service at one time. This is because insurance processed more than one date of service at one time.

2) Your deductible may have been exhausted and now you only have a smaller copay or coinsurance. Similarly, your insurance plan year may have restarted and NOW you’ve switched from a copay/coinsurance back to a higher deductible.

3) You may have a coinsurance. A copay is a flat fee while a coinsurance is a percentage of the service. So, depending on the code your therapist bills that best corresponds to the service you received, you may have a different coinsurance percentage owed.

4) Your therapist billed a complexity code because the service you received involved more complex communication than services usually entail. Please discuss this further with your therapist.

Why do you charge a credit card fee of 3.5%?

Our credit card processing system charges us both a flat rate AND a percentage (3%) for each payment we run. Again, no fees can be charged to HSA/FSA cards.

If I pay with my HSA/FSA card by autocharge, why do I also need to have a regular, non-HSA/FSA card on file?

Most charges you incur can be covered by your HSA/FSA funds. However, late cancel and no show fees cannot be charged to HSA/FSA cards. Additionally, most HSA/FSA cards eventually run out of funds and, when that happens, your regular card will be charged for your service so there is no delay in payment to your therapist.

What do you mean by premium, copay, deductable, coinsurance and out of pocket max? 

Premium: A monthly payment you make to have health insurance. Like a gym membership, you pay the premium each month, even if you don’t use it, or else lose coverage. If you’re fortunate enough to have employer-provided insurance, the company typically picks up part of the premium.

Copay: A predetermined rate you pay for health care services at the time of care. For example, you may have a $25 copay every time you see your primary care physician, a $10 copay for each monthly medication and a $250 copay for an emergency room visit.

Deductible: The deductible is how much you pay before your health insurance starts to cover a larger portion of your bills. In general, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you must pay $1,000 for your own care out-of-pocket before your insurer starts covering a higher portion of costs. The deductible resets yearly.

Coinsurance: Coinsurance is a percentage of a medical charge that you pay, with the rest paid by your health insurance plan, that typically applies after your deductible has been met. For example, if you have a 20% coinsurance, you pay 20% of each medical bill, and your health insurance will cover 80%.

Out-of-pocket maximum: The most you could have to pay in one year, out of pocket, for your health care before your insurance covers 100% of the bill. Here you can see the maximums allowed by the government for private plans for this year.



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