Preparing For Your First VisitFrequently Asked Questions
Prepare For Your First Visit!
All documents are effortlessly online. Make sure you have filled out all the required intake paperwork found in your client portal.
Fill it out once and we can get to work right away!
If you haven’t entered your credit card as payment in the client portal, at the end of the session we’ll ask you to pay by credit card, check, or cash.
As a healthcare provider, we proudly accept Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
Our practice management system uses 128-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption so your payment is secure and your data HIPAA compliant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is counseling for me?
Counseling is the process of getting help in the midst of difficulty. At Optimum Joy each therapist seeks to create a safe place for you to discuss what’s on your mind, and help you create options that were not previously available. This process can be difficult at times, but often the rewards far outweigh the investment of time, money, and energy.
How long does counseling or therapy take usually?
There are many factors that influence the length of the therapy process. Some common issues that influence length of time are the duration and severity of the issue(s), family of origin, support system, and personal style with respect to change.
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?
- Are you planning to use a health insurance benefit? If so, please be prepared to provide the information found on your insurance card.
- 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. (See below for further insurance considerations and questions.)
Is there anything I need to bring on my first visit?
All our initial documents will be sent to you through our secure electronic records system. Our intake coordinator will get those to you and explain any questions you have around them when you schedule your initial appointment. Please take time to fill those out prior to your appointment. That is all your therapist needs to begin!
What to expect from your first appointment?
Everyone can be nervous about the first appointment. And everyone has lots of questions—all kinds of questions. Can I find the office? Will I like the therapist? Will the therapist like me? Will the therapist help me? What do I talk about first? How long do I have to wait until I can expect some improvement? While the answers may be somewhat different from situation to situation, there are some generalizations we can make that may help in getting started.
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?
Our therapists specialize in providing the counseling treatment. While medication can be an invaluable tool to your counseling process, in Illinois counselors may not prescribe medication. We recommend medication to be discussed and prescribed by a psychiatrist, rather than using a primary care physician. This is because psychiatrists have specialized training and experience in assessment and monitoring medication used for mental health concerns. Your counselor can help you identify symptoms and think through if seeking the medical support of a psychiatrist would be helpful to you.
Where are our offices located?
Our office is conveniently located in the Fine Arts Building on Van Buren and Michigan. Access to every public train line is only a couple blocks away, and there is paid street parking along Van Buren, Wabash, and Columbus. Our address is below. The Fine Arts Building currently has a manually operated elevator, so simply ring the bell and wait for the operator to take you to the 6th floor.
410 S Michigan Ave, Suite 626, Chicago, IL 60605
How much does each session cost?
Your session cost will vary with your particular therapist. The cost may also vary if you decide to use insurance and how much your insurance will cover. The initial visit includes a first time administration start-up fee. Our Intake Coordinator is trained to listen and match you with the best therapist to fit your needs on our staff, and will provide detailed payment information on the phone when you reach out for your specific therapist match.
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. You will need to check with your insurance company to see if your sessions are covered, and if so, how much will be covered.
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 do not directly bill your insurance.
We can, upon request, provide you with receipts and a coded visit bill (called “super bills”) 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’d like to know your insurance coverage, call us today! Also please see our Client’s Guide to Verifying Insurance Coverage PDF.
What if my insurance does not cover my sessions?
There are cases where some insurance companies will not cover your mental health needs. If your insurance is in this category, you have a couple of choices. You may decide to pay for your sessions out-of-pocket, or you may decide to reduce the frequency of your visits or participate in group counseling.
The Benefits and Risks of Using Insurance
The use of insurance can be a helpful way to help cover the costs of therapy. In some situations insurance coverage might be the only way you or a member of your family can afford the care needed.
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.