Frequently Asked Questions

Will our sessions be confidential?  Our sessions are absolutely confidential.  I will never discuss our work outside of our session, nor will I consult with another mental health professional about your treatment without your written consent.

Do you use a sliding scale in setting your professional fees?  Yes, though my hourly rate is similar to others in my professional community, I do use a reduced fee schedule for those unable to meet this fee, if they are trainees or clients desiring to do intensive work who will find multiple meetings at full fee unaffordable.

In addition, I am willing to work out a partially deferred payment plan, on an individual basis, in order to make treatment possible.

Do you accept insurance?  No, I do not accept insurance.

How long is a typical session?  Each session lasts fifty minutes.

Do you have evening or weekend appointments available?  I do not work in the evenings or on weekends

Do you ever utilize telephone sessions? When clients are temporarily unable to come for office visits, a limited number of telephone sessions can be useful.  In other situations, after a period of face-to-face sessions, telephone sessions can be used regularly when a client has to permanently leave the area.  Over the years, I have found telephone work to be effective, though often it is useful to arrange for periodic in-person sessions during the course of treatment.

Do you prescribe medications?  No.  If medication seems indicated, I will make a referral to a psychiatrist with expertise in pharmacology.  I frequently treat clients who benefit from using psychopharmacological medication while doing intensive psychotherapy.

How will our first few sessions be structured?  During our first face-to-face session, I would like to hear about what is troubling you.  Over the course of the next few sessions, I would like you to narrate as complete a life history as possible, which would include physical health issues.  Typically, after two or three sessions, I will attempt to formulate a tentative working diagnosis, and from there we will discuss a set of proposed treatment options.

How will we decide if we want to work together?  A good match between client and therapist is crucial for effective work.  Sometimes a quality of trust and connection is obvious even after the first session; other times, it can take quite a bit longer.  To some degree, you will need to rely on your own feelings and intuition to judge whether or not you are comfortable working with me.  If you sense our collaboration is not promising, or if I think we will not work well together, I will refer you to a provider who hopefully will be able to help you more effectively.

If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me by email at astern100@aol.com, or call at (919) 933-5606.