- What is the Counseling Center in the Berkshires?
- How often will I meet with my therapist and for how long?
- What do I do if I am in crisis?
- What if I have to cancel an appointment?
- What can I expect to accomplish in therapy?
- What if I need medication?
- What about other kinds of help?
- What if I don’t feel comfortable with my therapist?
- Can I bring other people to my sessions?
- How long will I be coming to therapy?
- Will my insurance cover the cost of phychotherapy?
- What do I have to pay out of my own pocket?
- What about confidentiality?
- What if I run into my therapist in the community?
1. What is the Couseling Center in the Berkshires?
Founded in 1974 in the tradition of pastoral counseling, The Counseling Center in the Berkshires is a private, non-profit organization which provides psychotherapeutic and educational services to residents of the greater Berkshire community. The staff of CCB are committed to blending the traditions of psychology and spirituality in the process of psychotherapy. Therapists are licensed mental health professionals educated in the disciplines of clinical psychology, clinical social work, and pastoral counseling.
2. How often will I meet with my therapist and for how long?
You will work out a meeting schedule with your therapist. We usually begin by meeting weekly, sometimes changing to longer intervals when positive change has begun. Your appointments will last just shy of an hour. For your first meeting, you will be requested to come a few minutes early to fill out a small amout of paperwork.
3. What do I do if I am in crisis?
All clinicians have voicemail so call your therapist. Therapists often check their messages when they are not in the office. If you have not received a return call from your therapist, feel free to call the CCB office during administrative hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We will be glad to help you locate your therapist and/or speak to another clinician who is available. If those efforts fail, or if you doubt your ability to keep yourself stable, call the local crisis team or go to your nearest Emergency Room.
- Central and South (Berkshire) County Crisis Team: 413-499-0412
- North (Berkshire) County Crisis Team: 413-664-4541
4. What if I have to cancel an appointment?
We urge you to make your time here a priority in your life, but sometimes other obligations come up or you become ill. If you have a need to cancel an appointment or to re-schedule, please call your therapist as soon as possible. You may call and leave a message 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because your session time is reserved for you, it is difficult for us to fill that canceled hour without advance notice. If you cancel with less than 24 hours notice, it is the policy of CCB to charge you a fee (i.e., what we would have received for an actual session) for that missed session, unless this is against the regulations of your insurance policy.
We view psychotherapy as a collaborative process of learning and change which involves knowing yourself. Although psychotherapy does not come with guarantees regarding outcome, it has been repeatedly demonstrated to be helpful in decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. When there are medical problems, the positive emotional effects of psychotherapy have been shown to improve physical dysfunction. Benefits also include an increased ability to navigate social or family relationships and an increased ability to receive satisfaction from those relationships. You may also find that you better understand your personal goals and values. You and your therapist should periodically evaluate how therapy is helping you to meet your goals.
6. What if I need medication?
The Counseling Center in the Berkshires does not have medication services. Your therapist may recommend consultation to determine the usefulness of medications. We will work with your primary care physician, or we can refer you to psychiatric professionals who can prescribe medication.
7. What about other kinds of help?
Psychotherapy is one, but not the only avenue for help. You and your therapist may discuss self-help groups and other community resources. She/he may also recommend work outside of therapy like practicing new behavior, reading, journal-keeping, or audiotapes.
8. What if I don’t feel comfortable with my therapist?
Many people are uncomfortable at first talking to a therapist: it can feel embarrassing or exposing to talk about problems. As you get to know the process and your therapist, you can expect to become comfortable. If you are not, or it you feel misunderstood by your therapist, please express your concerns in a session. Sometimes the discomfort comes from a miscommunication and can be easily rectified, or may simply be coming from wrestling with difficult issues. If, however, the personal feeling between you and your therapist is problematic, you can request a transfer.
9. Can I bring other people to my sessions?
Yes, and your therapist may suggest this. People who know you well can help the therapist understand you. Sometimes a part of the problem is about a relationship, and having you and your family member(s) participate can be useful. Family members who want to give information to the therapist are encouraged to do so in person, so you can hear what is said.
10. How long will I be coming to therapy?
Therapy can be a crisis intervention that lasts only 1-3 sessions, or may take place over years. On average, we find most of our clients come to therapy for 4-8 months. You will get the most out of your experience here if you see it through to a stopping point, as this gives you and your therapist a chance to review what you have accomplished.
11. Will my insurance cover the cost of psychotherapy?
Almost all health insurance plans cover services for psychiatric evaluation and psychotherapy. When you called to ask for services, our staff checked to make sure your insurance was would cover our services. Our staff also requested an “authorization” for psychotherapy if this was required by your insurer. Your therapist can tell you how many sessions were granted in that initial authorization. If you and your therapist decide to meet beyond that number of sessions, your therapist can typically request another authorization from your insurance company. There are some occasions (e.g., if you have been seeing another mental health professional) when you need to call your insurance company yourself. If you have been so instructed, please discuss this with your therapist. We encourage you to read your plan booklet under coverage for “mental health” or call to find out the information you need. Be aware that the contract with your insurance is between you and the company, not between CCB and the insurance carrier: you are responsible for all charges for psychotherapy.
12. What do I have to pay out of my own pocket?
If you do not have health insurance, you will be paying for psychotherapy yourself. We want our services to be available to everyone, and will negotiate a fee with you if you are unable to pay our full fee of $150 per session.
If you do have health insurance, you may be responsible for a copayment. The amount of your copayment is easily known, and typically varies between $5 and $30. Please give your copayment to your therapist at each session. If your insurance policy has a deductible (an amount you must first pay before your insurance company starts to pay), you will need to make arrangements with us about this. If you want to participate in psychotherapy beyond what your insurance will cover, you can pay for those sessions at a fee negotiated with your therapist.
13. What about my confidentiality?
We regard the information you share with your therapist with the greatest respect. The privacy and confidentiality of your conversations with your therapist and her/his records are a privilege of yours which is protected by state law and the ethical codes of mental health professionals.
An exception to complete confidentiality occurs with insurance companies when they are trying to determine the “medical necessity” of further treatment. They typically ask us about the category of problems you are having, medical conditions, stress levels in your life, your basic functioning, the existence of substance abuse, and whether your safety is at risk. Our policy is to provide the minimum information necessary for you to obtain reimbursement
There are exceptions to maintaining complete confidentiality which involve safety. Specifically, we will speak to others when we believe that (1) you intend to harm yourself or another person, or (2) a child or elder has been or will be abused or neglected. Another exception to confidentiality can occur when the legal system is involved: either your lawyer or a judge can compel us to share records or to testify in court. All these situations should be discussed with your therapist.
The therapists at CCB are committed to the quality of our work, and consultation with one another is one way we monitor and improve ourselves. Such discussions often contain no names. If a family member of yours is also in treatment with us, you may want us to discuss events with the other therapist involved. You should ask for any restriction on that discussion that you need. If you know any staff member of CCB, please tell your therapist so he/she knows to restrict any consultation with that person.
If you or we want to speak with someone in your life (like your personal physician, for example), you will be asked to sign a special form (called “Release of Information”) giving your written permission for that contact to occur.
In general the law governing mental health treatment is more restrictive than the federal law passed several years ago. The specifics of that law, often called by its initials, the HIPPA law, are posted in our waiting room. If you have concerns about confidentiality, please raise them with your therapist.
You can expect your therapist to acknowledge you with a short greeting, but refrain from further interaction. You need not feel hurt by this: we are simply maintaining your privacy.
We hope this information is helpful to you. Please raise any other questions about therapy or the Counseling Center with your therapist.