1) Can you explain the difference between psychologists, social workers, and clinical counselors?
A psychologist (Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D.) is a professional who has earned a doctorate degree in psychology and is licensed to provide psychotherapy, psychological testing, and consultation. Although some states have passed legislation giving psychologists prescription privileges, currently, in the state of Ohio, psychologists are not allowed to prescribe medication.
A licensed independent social worker (LISW) has a master's degree in social work and is licensed to provide psychotherapy, evaluations, and consultation. Social workers do not prescribe medication. A licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC or PCC) has a master's degree in counseling and is licensed to provide counseling, evaluations, and consultation. They do not prescribe medication.
2) What is a Psy.D., and how does it differ from a Ph.D.?
Licensed psychologists in the state of Ohio must have a doctoral degree in psychology. Both Psy.D.’s and Ph.D.’s complete four years of coursework, a one-year predoctoral internship, and a dissertation or doctoral project. The Psy.D. degree emphasizes the training of a psychologist to be a clinician, providing psychotherapy to individuals, families, and groups. In contrast to the Psy.D. degree, the Ph.D. degree concentrates more on research, while also trainings psychologists to be clinicians. Psychologists who have earned either a Psy.D. or a Ph.D. degree are equally qualified to provide psychotherapy, psychological testing, and consultation. The difference lies in the emphasis of the doctoral program, either in psychotherapy (Psy.D.) or in research (Ph.D.).
3) Do you accept insurance?
Yes. We are an in-network provider for many insurance companies. For those insurance companies that we are not in-network with, we would be considered an out-of-network provider, for which your insurance plan might have benefits. Many insurance companies are now allowing individuals to choose any mental health provider they wish, and agree to pay a percentage of the total cost of services. To find out the cost that you would be responsible for, go to our “New Client Paperwork” tab and complete the “Insurance Benefits Worksheet.” Even though you have health insurance, you may wish to consider paying for services out-of-pocket instead.
4) If I have health insurance coverage for mental health, why would I consider a self-pay (out-of-pocket)?
When a person’s health insurance is used for mental health services, there is certain information that must be released to the insurance company about the person’s clinical diagnosis, medication, presenting symptoms, factors affecting a person’s well-being, and goals for treatment. Hence, privacy about psychotherapy services are necessarily compromised in order to meet the requirements of each insurance company.
In contrast, a person who chooses to pay privately for psychological services is assured a greater degree of confidentiality, as no information needs to be released to any third party without the person’s written consent. The only exception to this, of course, would be if a person is in danger of hurting him or herself, or hurting another individual, or in cases of abuse or neglect that have not yet been reported.
5) What are your office hours?
Each therapist sets their own hours for seeing clients. We have therapists in the office each day, from Monday through Saturday, from early morning to late afternoon/early evenings.
6) Where is your office located?
We are located in the Beckett Ridge area of West Chester, near the intersection of Tylersville Road and Route 747 (Princeton-Glendale Road), directly behind Group Health Associates—West Chester.
1) What services do you provide, and with what ages of individuals do you work?
We provide psychotherapy, assessments (neuropsychological, psychological, and psychoeducational), evaluations, and consultation. Therapy might be focused on an individual, a couple, or an entire family. Therapists in our practice are specialized in working with children, teens, adults, couples, and families.
2) Who do you prefer to be present at the initial appointment?
For children ages 12 and under, we usually request meeting first with the parent(s) alone in order to get a thorough history of the circumstances leading up to the presenting concerns, and to find out how the parent(s) have been dealing with the problem situation. We find that this is best done out of earshot of the child.
However, for adolescents ages 13-17, we think it is important for the teen to be present with the parent(s) for the initial session. As you likely already know, parents and teens often have very different perspectives on the problems that “may” exist! We find it is very helpful in our alliance with teens to hear their side of things at the same time we are listening to their parents’ concerns. We always have an opportunity to meet with different family members together, such as the teen alone or the parent(s) alone, in future sessions. For young adults, ages 18-21, we usually leave it up to the family to decide who should be present for the initial session. Some young adults prefer to come with their parents, while others are interested in coming alone for the first session.
3) My husband and I are divorced. Do you still want both of us to come together for the first session?
If divorced parents can sit in a room and speak civilly with one another (!) we find that it is most helpful to have both parents attend the initial session. There is a great deal of valuable information that we can gather from speaking with both parents together. However, we do understand that people get divorced for a reason (!), and sometimes it does not work out very well to have both individuals in the same room at the same time. In these situations, we invite one parent to attend the initial session, and invite the other parent to the second assessment session.
4) My ex-wife and I have shared parenting and joint custody of our child. Although I am interested in bringing our child in to see you, my ex-wife is not agreeable to this. How should I proceed?
In cases of joint custody, both parents must consent to treatment for us to see their child. If one parent is opposed to having the child be seen, then unfortunately, we would not be able to pursue an initial visit without a court order mandating the evaluation and/or the psychotherapy.
5) Could you explain the difference between the “evaluation” that you mentioned above, and the “psychotherapy” that you provide for children and teens?
In working with kids and teens, the first several sessions are known as the “evaluation” or “assessment” stage, and typically consist of the following: Session One: Parents alone or parents/teen together Session Two: Child or teen alone Session Three: ½ session with parents alone and ½ session with child/teen alone
OR a session with family together
It is important to note that the above outline is followed the majority of the time, but there are some variations of the session order that might be necessary, as in the case of divorced families where each parent might need to be seen alone, or with children who require more time than usual to feel comfortable enough to answer questions and share their points of view with us.
At the end of these meetings, the family is invited for an additional session to share evaluation results and offer recommendations for future sessions. During this time, we will be answering two main questions: 1) What are the contributing factors and the nature of the problem, 2) What are our recommendations for what should happen next? It is at this time that we share information about the diagnosis and suggest treatment goals.
Dr. Sharon Phillips and associates Helping Families Navigate Life's Obstacles