What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a discipline that helps people with a broad variety of emotional difficulties and interpersonal issues. It can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better, increase personal well-being and relational health, and move towards healing. Problems addressed in psychotherapy may include challenges in coping with daily life, transitions, the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, and formal mental disorders. There are many different styles of psychotherapy and some have been researched and found to work better with certain problems. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.

How do I choose a Therapist?

A good match with a therapist and client is an important factor that results in positive outcomes. Once the basics of scheduling and insurance/payment are determined, there are many factors that determine a good match. These factors can include feeling comfortable talking together; a therapist’s experience, training, and style of psychotherapy; gender; ethnicity; and compatibility of values. Reading through the descriptions of each of our therapists will give you an idea of their background and approach.

How do I make an appointment?

Christian Psychotherapy Services is an affiliation of individual private practitioners. Each therapist keeps their own schedule with day, evening, and limited weekend appointments.

Please visit our Therapists Profile section to determine who might be a good fit for your needs and contact them directly. If you need further assistance with your choice, you may contact us here.

What are the fees for therapy?    Does the "No Surprises Act" apply to receiving psychotherapy?

Since we are individual private practitioners, each therapist charges their own fees. Fees are based on the usual and customary rates for Bay Area Therapists. Each clinician reserves some space in their practice for low fee clients. This would be arranged directly with your therapist. In addition, the group may include Associate Therapists who offer reduced fees that are determined on a sliding scale based on income.

Yes, the No Surprise Act is a new federal law that goes into affect January 1, 2022 and typically covers services received by a patient from a team of providers in a hospital.  Some patients receiving care have been surprised to learn later that their expenses were more than what was expected due to not knowing that some providers were actually not part of their health plan and so were billing the patient with additional fees.

The new law was created to address this situation in order to protect the consumer by providing more transparency through a "Good Faith Estimate (GFE)" of the expected costs of a medical procedure. The law provides the patient with the right to dispute the charges if the costs for services exceed the latest GFE by $400. The new law only applies to patients who are uninsured or who are not using insurance to pay for the costs of services.

San Francisco Christian Psychotherapy Services values transparency in our billing process and our clinicians will be complying with the applicable parts of the new law by providing GFE's to uninsured or self-pay clients or potential clients upon request. The GFE will include the estimated expenses of psychotherapy services provided. Your total cost of services will depend upon the number of psychotherapy sessions you attend, your individual circumstances, and the type and amount of services that are provided to you.

What about insurance and how do I know if my health plan covers psychotherapy benefits ?

A majority of our therapists are "out of network" providers and do not bill directly to insurance carriers.  Typically, clients pay the fee for the session and will be given a receipt that can be submitted to the insurance company for reimbursement.  Please check directly with your insurance to verify your coverage

Before the first therapy session, we recommend that you call your health insurance provider and ask the following questions. Usually their customer service phone # is on the back of your health insurance card.

What is the difference between an “In Network” and an “Out of Network” Insurance Plan?

An “In Network” plan means that clients can be seen by providers who are contracted to work for the health plan.  Usually this means that there is a lower copay fee.  Out-of-Network means that a provider is not contracted to work for the health plan.  If your insurance is a PPO plan, it means you as the client, have the option to seek an “Out-of-Network” provider but this usually means there will be higher fees in the form of “Out-of-Network” deductibles and you’re only getting a percentage of the fee you pay to the clinician reimbursed.

What is the difference between a HMO and a PPO Insurance plan?

An HMO insurance plan means the client is limited to the pool of providers that are contracted with the plan.  A PPO insurance plan means the client has a default pool of providers but is also free to choose from an additional pool of providers not contracted (out of network) with their  plan.

What is my actual fee if I have a PPO plan and see an “Out-of-Network” therapist ?

You will want to call up your health plan (usually on your insurance card) and ask them to look up your insurance policy for you specifically for mental health/behavioral health visits and clarify these 3 points:
  1. Ask the insurance company what your “out of network annual deductible” is?  This is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket to see a therapist before the insurance kicks in and the insurance company starts reimbursing you.  Your insurance plan may have a slightly different name such as “non-participating provider” or “non-preferred provider”.
  2. Ask the insurance company specifically what your reimbursement rate is?  This is the amount of money per visit or percentage of the money you paid that the insurance company pays back to you after you have paid the doctor.
  3. Ask the insurance company what base rate the reimbursement is based upon?  This is the cost of each visit that the insurance company sets to base their reimbursement percentage calculations.

Here is an example of what this might look like in real life:

Let’s say the therapist charges $150/session.  This is the amount you pay at the end of each of your sessions.  The therapist will give you a receipt that you send back to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Let’s say your out-of-network annual deductible is $1500.  Using the rate of $150 a session as an example, you would need to pay for the first 10 sessions before the reimbursement benefit starts.  

Let’s say after the first 10 sessions, counseling is going well; you are making progress and there is a need to continue.  Starting on the 11th session, you are eligible to receive a percentage of the next payments to your therapist back to you from your insurance company.  The percentage rate varies and depends on what your employer has negotiated with the insurance company for your specific policy/pool of employees.   As a simple example, let’s say the percentage rate is 60% based on the insurance company’s base rate of $100.  

What this means is that starting on the 11th session, the insurance company should be reimbursing you for 60% of their internal rate of $100 or $60.  It is important to note that it is NOT 60% of the therapist’s rate of $150.   So in our example you would be paying the therapist $150 for the session and your insurance company would pay you back $60, so in effect you are paying $90 out of pocket.  

Usually the annual deductible is calculated based on the calendar year so starting in January each year, the annual deductible resets and you would need to pay the first $1500 yourself again.  So if you have longer term, more serious symptoms, it is to your benefit to start therapy earlier in the calendar year so that you pay for the annual deductible and can get the benefit of the ensuing reduced cost of sessions if you need longer term therapy.

How should I refer a friend or family member who I think needs psychotherapy? And what if I still have more questions?

Please contact our main number at (415) 764-0252 or fill out this contact form and our intake therapist of the month will be happy to answer any questions and concerns you have.

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