Preparing For Your First VisitFrequently Asked Questions
Prepare For Your First Visit!
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Located in the historical Monadnock Building in downtown Chicago:
As a healthcare provider, we proudly accept Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is counseling for me?
How long does counseling or therapy take usually?
What to expect when you contact us for the first time?
When you call our office for the first time, follow the prompts for “First Time Callers” to leave a voicemail. Please leave your name, telephone number, and suggestions for good times to reach you. Our Intake Coordinator will return your call as soon as possible.
Once the Intake Coordinator reaches you, she/he will ask you for several pieces of information to assist in getting you connected to the best therapist for your situation.
Our Intake Coordinator will review the following information:
- In general terms, why are you seeking counseling? (We want you to have a therapist who is an expert in your area of concern.)
- In choosing a therapist, do you have a gender preference? (You may know that you want a male or female therapist; but if this is not an issue, that gives you more options!)
- Are there limitations as to when you can schedule an appointment? More appointments are available during the daytime hours as evening appointments tend to book up quickly. We will talk through finding an appointment time that consistently works for you.
- Are you planning to use a health insurance benefit? If so, please be prepared to provide the information found on your insurance card. We are in-network with BCBS PPO plans, and our staff can call your insurance to determine out-of-network coverage for any other insurance. If curious about coverage, please fill out this form, along with a picture of the front/back of your insurance card, and email to email@example.com.
- Are there any special needs related to language, culture and/or building accessibility?
If you prefer corresponding via email, you can reach the Intake Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the information above in your email, as well as any other questions/comments you may have.
*If you are using an insurance benefit, we strongly recommend that you talk with your insurance company and/or your employer prior to your first appointment to gain a full understanding of your benefits. If you don’t feel comfortable calling, our staff can call on your behalf. (See below for further insurance considerations and questions.)
Is there anything I need to bring on my first visit?
What to expect from your first appointment?
In general, it is a good idea to come early for the first appointment, so you don’t feel too rushed.
At your scheduled time, your therapist will greet you in the waiting room and show you to his or her office. A session is approximately 50 minutes long. Your therapist will want to learn about you and why you have decided to come for counseling. It will be helpful for you to provide a brief description of the issues that have brought you to counseling. Your therapist will ask follow-up questions to fill in some of the background and enrich his or her understanding of the issues.
At the beginning of the session, it may be helpful to remember that your therapist has literally spent years of training in listening and asking questions. You are not doing this alone. Your therapist is here to work with you in making this process a helpful, comfortable, and productive experience. We believe that counseling is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist.
The length of treatment depends on the problems being addressed, your personal style with respect to change, the strength of rapport between you and your therapist, and the frequency of meetings which can affect the pace at which you and your therapist can work on problems. All of these things can be talked over with your therapist
At a minimum, counseling can provide at least two things. First, counseling provides a safe place to talk over your difficulties with someone with experience helping people. Second, counseling generally adds some clarity about decision-making options and provides a healthy place to brainstorm ideas about what to try next. Whatever the case, counseling can be tailored to your situation and together with your therapist, you can sort out the goals that will make counseling meaningful and helpful for you.
What about medication?
Where are our offices located?
Our office is conveniently located in the Monadnock Building on Dearborn between Jackson and Van Buren. Access to every public train line is directly outside the building, and there is paid street parking along Van Buren, Dearborn, and Wabash. Our address is below.
53 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1201, Chicago, IL 60604
How much does each session cost?
Will my insurance cover the cost of sessions?
This depends upon the plan you have with your specific insurance company. Coverage varies widely between insurance plans. We are currently in-network with BCBS PPO plans and will bill your insurance for you under these plans. It is important to note that PPO plans are different than HMO plans from BCBS, and we are not in-network with HMO insurance plans. All other insurance plans can utilize the out-of-network benefits available to them. With out-of-network we collect the full fee for session at the time of the appointment and give you a receipt with everything you need to file a potential reimbursement claim with your insurance. We can work together to understand your coverage and get you the help you need.
Do you contract with insurance companies?
We are committed to you & your family’s privacy, their confidentiality, and want you to have complete control over their health records. Submitting a mental health invoice for reimbursement carries a certain amount of risk to your confidentiality, privacy and future capacity to obtain health or life insurance or even a job. That is why we caution people to consider their risk to privacy prior to billing insurance for mental health services.
We are in-network with BCBS PPO insurance plans and our office bills these plans directly to the insurance. You would simply be responsible for any co-pay or unpaid services.
We can also provide you with receipts and a coded visit bill which you may submit to your insurance company for out-of-network reimbursement if you choose. We encourage you to check with your insurance regarding the specifics of your policy. If you want more information on this, don’t hesitate to contact our intake coordinator.
If you’d like to know your insurance coverage, call us today!
What if my insurance does not cover my sessions?
The Benefits and Risks of Using Insurance
There are, however, some considerations you may want to keep in mind in deciding whether or not to use insurance. The most obvious concern is privacy, especially in situations where benefits may be administered through your employer’s human resource department or a managed care company. Many managed care programs require additional information beyond a diagnosis and sessions dates, such as treatment summaries and goal statements to determine eligibility for ongoing benefits. Optimum Joy is committed to preserving your privacy according to Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPAA) and to providing insurance companies only what is required to attain coverage. Unfortunately, we can not make assurances about what happens to information after it leaves our office. Further, use of insurance of any sort creates a record that might come into play later on when completing applications for life, health or disability insurance. People have been denied insurance and in some circumstances jobs because of preexisting mental health diagnosis.
There are also situations where the insurance benefit for mental health may be quite limited or situations where a deductible may be quite large. In such situations you may need to weigh the expected benefit against the cost of sessions anticipated.
We can not advise you regarding your decision to use insurance but feel an informed decision is the best pathway to a good decision.