Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? How do I find a counselor or therapist with whom to work? How are psychologists different from psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists? How does "therapy" work? What about confidentiality? Is therapy included in my insurance health plan coverage? Am I a failure if I go to a psychologist (or am I a failure as a parent if I take my child)? Can't I just read a book or attend a parenting class and get the help I need? How do I know if I need to see a psychologist? What can I expect in the first session? What is a treatment plan? Does Clinical Psychology Associates offer sliding fee scales?
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? A psychiatrist has attended medical school and completed a residency in psychiatry. A psychologist has completed graduate school and an internship in psychology. Although both are experts in emotional and behavioral issues, they approach problems from different viewpoints. The psychiatrist, as a medical doctor, often sees emotional difficulties from a physiological perspective and typically prescribes medications for problems such as depression and anxiety. The psychologist, as a behavioral scientist, views the problem from an emotional or learning perspective and uses approaches such as therapy, counseling, or hypnosis. If medication is needed, a psychologist will refer the patient to an M.D. or D.O. such as a psychiatrist, pediatrician, family physician, or another specialist. For certain problems, the two individuals may work together using both counseling and medications. back to top
How do I find a counselor or therapist with whom to work? Word of mouth or a referral from a friend are often the best places to start. If you have an HMO or insurance that will pay for therapy, you can obtain a list of therapists who are covered under your plan. Other ways to find a therapist include calling a local hospital or mental health center, contacting your state psychological association, using the yellow pages, or the Internet. Be a cautious consumer! Ask about credentials, experience, specialties, and professional activities. If you feel uncomfortable with the therapist, continue looking elsewhere until you find someone with whom you feel comfortable. back to top
How are psychologists different from psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists? Psychologists spend an average of 7.2 years, in addition to their undergraduate college degree, in education and training. They utilize a unique combination of scientific methods, along with substantial skills and experience in working with real people in real-life situations. Unlike most other specialists in the helping professions, psychologists have special training in evaluation and testing. Their unique skills and experience allows them to assist you in identifying your problems, and then figuring out ways in which you can best cope with them. Approaches might include improving specific coping skills, changing contributing behaviors or habits, or mustering additional resources to address a situation which may be out of your control. back to top
How does "therapy" work? Therapy works by helping you objectively look at thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which contribute to various problem situations. In consultation with your therapist you learn new or more effective ways of coping with the difficulties you face. Together, you and your therapist will identify treatment goals and will decide how you will know when you are making progress. Therapy is effective. Nine out of ten Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said that psychotherapy had helped them. Scientific studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of many specific treatment techniques. back to top
What about confidentiality? Your privacy is important to both you and your treatment provider. All information is strictly confidential and will only be released with your specific written consent. Please see our "Privacy Statement" for more details regarding the release of confidential information. back to top
Is therapy included in my insurance health plan coverage? Many insurance plans, including some HMOs, provide some level of coverage for psychological or mental health services. In addition, government-sponsored health insurance programs (Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPUS, CHAMPVA) provide varying levels of coverage. Wisconsin statutes require certain types of health plans to provide minimum levels of outpatient mental health coverage, as well. As a service to our clients our business office will verify your insurance coverage for you, or you may contact your insurance company directly. back to top
Am I a failure if I go to a psychologist (or am I a failure as a parent if I take my child)? No, this is not the case at all. Consulting a psychologist can be viewed in the same way as when one visits another professional such as a physician. While on the one hand we could say someone has a physical weakness if they get the flu and choose to visit their physician, on the other hand we would say that person is wise to seek the help of a trained professional. When one encounters emotional or behavioral difficulties in life, it is wise to seek the assistance of a trained professional. Just as in medical and health-related areas, early intervention for emotional or behavioral concerns can help prevent the development of more severe difficulties. back to top
Can't I just read a book or attend a parenting class and get the help I need? These are often helpful first steps, and many clients of our clinic have already tried several such techniques before they come in for psychotherapy. Unfortunately, many clients report that the self-help book, seminar, parenting class, etc. that was utilized was not specific enough to their particular situation. In psychotherapy, problems and the application of various solutions to those problems can be discussed in greater detail. |back to top
How do I know if I need to see a psychologist? Consider seeing a psychologist when your usual coping strategies don't work. For example, you may find that talking to a friend or reading a self-help book doesn't change things for the better. Other indicators that you might want to a see a psychologist include knowing the problem is too big or complex to handle easily, others suggesting you need to talk to someone or get help, your own desire for more lasting change than you have been able to achieve on your own, or you just don't seem to be reaching your full potential in your marriage, career, friendships, or hobbies. back to top
What can I expect in the first session? During the first session your therapist will ask you to explain why you are seeking services. The therapist will ask many questions about your life experiences, and will talk with you about your desired treatment goals. If you are seeking services for a child, the therapist will also conduct a thorough developmental history. If additional evaluation or testing is indicated, your therapist will discuss this with you. Plans for future sessions will also be discussed. back to top
What is a treatment plan? A treatment plan is a written document constructed by your therapist with your input. It specifies the problem area and treatment goals and objectives, addresses various treatment techniques to be used, and projects target dates for attaining your treatment goals. The plan may be fairly simple and straightforward, or it may be more complex, depending on individual circumstances. The treatment plan is generally completed within the first few therapy sessions. How can I afford psychotherapy at the rates charged if I don't have insurance coverage? Psychotherapy is expensive if paid for out-of-pocket without accessing insurance. But then, if you have struggled with a problem issue for some time and are tired of it, the importance of alleviating it becomes more and more valuable to you over time. We spend our money according to how much we value something; that is, we put our money where our priorities lie. So if changing the quality of your marriage, career, or other area of your life is a high priority, then you will probably find a way to pay for psychotherapy out of pocket. Arrangements to make payments over time can be made directly with your therapist. Discounts for clients who pay in full at the time of service are also available. back to top
Does Clinical Psychology Associates offer sliding fee scales? Clinical Psychology Associates does not offer services according to sliding fee scales. Organizations which do so generally supplement client fees through the receipt of grants and donations. We receive no such alternative funding. back to top