Frequently Asked Questions

What is telehealth?

Telehealth, telemedicine and/or teletherapy are all ways to refer to remote online video or phone mental health services. I accommodate per client needs whether we work remotely by phone or video. The video sessions are not recorded and I am alone in a secure quiet location. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages to telehealth? 

Telehealth helps meet client’s needs for convenient, remote, and readily-accessible mental health services. It is a widely accepted and utilized tool to provide psychotherapy. It can benefit patients in a number of ways, such as:

  • Improve access to mental health care.

  • Bring care to the client’s location, which provides added convenience.

  • Telehealth provides continuity of care which leads to better outcomes.

  • Reduces the need to take time off of work, childcare services, etc. to access appointments far away.

  • Reduce potential transportation barriers, such as lack of transportation or the need for long drives.

  • Reduces the barrier of stigma.

  • Increases availability and flexibility of mental health care services.

  • There is substantial evidence to support the effectiveness of telehealth where it is the equivalent to in-person care.


While some people may be reluctant or feel awkward talking to person in a screen, experience shows most people are comfortable with it. Some people may be more relaxed and willing to open up from the comfort of their home or a convenient local facility. 


Telehealth enables providers to treat more patients especially those in distant locations. Even though it enables me to treat clients from afar the limits to reach as a clinician is within this state. 


The biggest disadvantage of telehealth is that the clinician and the client are not in the same room. Being in the therapy room can create enhanced feelings of safety, security and privacy for many. Another disadvantage is as we are seeing in the news that cybercrime is attacking online platforms. As your provider I am doing my best to keep the sessions secure and safe. 
 

What platform do you use for video sessions?

 

I use VSee Messenger for my video sessions. This app is free for download on the Apple Store or Google Play. I have chosen this platform because of its reliability and compliance with HIPAA standards. 

 

My schedule is shifting. Do we have to keep the same session time?

 

I understand you may be experiencing a change in your home, family and work schedule, changes impacting your availability. Let me know if you do have concerns about your usual session time and if another time would work better for the interim. We can revisit our schedule and see if it's possible to find another time to meet. My goal will be to accommodate you to the best of my ability. With that said I am doing my best to provide consistency and containment for all of my clients and will be keeping the same appointment times for each client unless otherwise discussed.

 

What if I am feeling conflicted about telehealth? 

 

Times like these are likely to evoke many even contradictory feelings, including oscillating feelings of threat, shock, overwhelm, anger and sadness. It can also lead to tension, as we all try and navigate this time with differences in our approaches. It's so understandable ... and expected. If you are experiencing irritation, frustration or anger, including about my decision, or suddenly find yourself feeling ambivalent or conflicted about therapy, please tell me. I want to know how you are and how my actions and decisions affect you and develop a plan with you that best meets your needs. 

 

How long will we remain remote?

 

The status of Coronavirus in the Bay Area seems to be shifting every day. After the quarantine restrictions are lifted, please assume we will be meeting remotely, unless you hear from me otherwise. 

 

How do I prepare for a teletherapy session?

 

To prepare for your teletherapy sessions, please:

  • Set-up a quiet and private setting for meeting without interruption from others

  • If you do not have privacy or a strong enough WIFI at home, considering sitting in your car and using your cell-phone, if you have that option 

  • Make sure your device is sufficiently charged

  • Use your headphones for added safety during the session

  • Have tissues nearby if you should need them 

  • Be sure to download and test VSee Messenger in advance if you are planning to meet via video 

  • Remain open-minded to welcoming that this will be different than an in-person meeting

  • If needed please disable other devices that are on the home network being used during a video session by placing them on airplane mode if we have a poor connection.

"Do you accept insurance?"

If you wish to use insurance to cover the cost of therapy, there are a few steps to follow before we can determine that. First you must call your insurance provider and see if you can see an out of network provider for mental health services. The second question to ask you insurance is if you can see a registered intern as the out of network provider. If the answer is yes to both of these inquiries then I can create a superbill for you to submit to your insurance provider. You will be required to cover the cost of the session and then it is up to you to submit the superbill to your insurance for reimbursement. If you are curious about that process feel free to ask you insurance provider. 

"Do you have a sliding scale? If so, what are your fees per session?"

My standard fee per individual and couple sessions is $130.00. I offer a sliding scale that ranges between $70.00 to $130.00.  I do have limited spots below my sliding scale which are determined on a case by case basis. Feel free to have a conversation regarding what is available regarding my openings.

My adult son needs help; can you see him? 

If you are calling for another adult, whether it being your child, spouse, or family member, I need to hear from them personally to schedule a consultation. They have to be interested in participating in therapy, and no matter how much we want our loved ones to seek help, they have to want it for themselves.

I am a teenager, do I need my parents permission to come to therapy?

Health & Safety Code § 124260

“[A] minor who is 12 years of age or older may consent to [outpatient] mental health treatment or counseling services if, in the opinion of the attending professional person, the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in the mental health treatment or counseling services.” (Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 124260.)

I prefer to have parental consent when seeing a minor. It is rare to see an adolescent client without parental consent, and I have several criteria and guidelines that I must abide by to before therapy commences. Starting therapy involves giving consent for mental health services and I would have to determine if you were able to fully understand the  nature of therapeutic counseling, and if you were mature enough to participate without your parents present. In addition, as the client you would be responsible for all session fees.

2401 Stanwell Drive

Suite 460, Office #2

Concord CA, 94520

donna@diablovalleycounseling.com

 

Tel: (925) 338-1556

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© 2020 by Donna Christianson, MA, AMFT #101873

Supervised by Kathleen Benitez, LCSW #17747

Practicing through the auspices of Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center, a nonprofit organization providing affordable counseling & psychotherapy services to adults, children & adolescents, couples and families throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area.