“I am interested in therapy, but I don’t know how to get started.” This is a statement I’ve heard often, both from clients in their first phone consultation with me, as well from friends looking for guidance and recommendations. Sometimes, the symptoms that are interfering with your daily life – such as low motivation, distractibility, intense worry, and hopelessness – can make the uncertainty about the process feel even more overwhelming. Today, I hope to demystify the process of setting up an appointment with a Start My Wellness therapist, so that it feels less daunting for you to reach out and begin your journey toward mental wellness.
How long does it take to get an appointment? The most popular option for new clients is to schedule online. From our website, the “schedule appointment” tab takes you to our client portal, where you can then request an appointment. You can view all appointment times available, or you can sort time slots by therapist. Once you select a time and submit your request, a member of the Start My Wellness admin team will review your request and contact you within 24 hours to register you with the clinic and confirm your appointment.
What if I need to see a therapist as soon as possible? While the online appointment request is convenient, it doesn’t clearly let our staff know how urgent your request is. So if you are looking for a same-day appointment, the best option is to call the office and speak directly with our staff. They can register you quickly and connect you to an available therapist, often as soon as two hours after your first call!
What if I don’t know how to choose a therapist? If you are referred to our clinic but don’t have a specific therapist in mind, our admin staff can help match you to a therapist based on the issues you’re seeking help with, as well as your schedule and availability. Each therapist also has a bio on the website, which can be another way to gauge if a particular therapist might be a good fit.
What is involved in registering with the clinic? This is when the admin team collects your general information, verifies your insurance benefits, arranges payment for sessions, and sends you clinic documents to review before your appointment. The process takes approximately 15 minutes and is completed over the phone.
- Verifying insurance benefits: The admin team member will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and insurance information, so you’ll want to have your insurance card handy. With this information, our staff can check with your insurance company to see if we are in or out of your provider network, which services insurance will cover, and what your financial responsibility is as the client. You might have a deductible to reach before the insurance company starts paying for your sessions. Some clients have a copay with each session. Others have a set number of sessions that are covered in a year, with any additional sessions as their responsibility to pay for. Our staff will inform you of your benefits and confirm that you are okay with your financial responsibility. If our therapists are out of your provider network but you would still like to work with them, one option is to pay for sessions in full as you go, and to submit a document to your insurance company afterward to be reimbursed. The amount companies will reimburse varies, so you’ll want to call the customer service number and ask. Our staff will provide you with that document, called a Superbill, monthly.
- Creating your chart and reviewing clinic policies: Next, our staff will create your chart. You’ll receive an email with a request to sign onto the patient portal, where you’ll create a password and log on to review and sign our clinic documents. The documents are sent to you in one PDF, and you have the option to sign electronically in the portal after scrolling down through the documents. The documents outline our adherence to HIPAA, confirm our permission for us to bill your insurance, and give us permission to send you billing statements and information through the email you’ve provided. For this reason, we recommend you provide staff with a personal email address.
- Billing practices: The other form you’ll sign gives our staff permission to generate invoices and to save your billing information in a separate portal called bill.com. While on the phone with you, our staff will ask if you’d like to add a bank account or credit card to your account. If you do, that information will already be entered when you’re invited to log in. If not, you’ll have the option to add it later – just make sure you save your password so you can update your billing preferences and payment information. If you have a deductible to meet or are paying the full fee for sessions, we typically collect payment with each session. If you have a copay that is less than $40, we typically wait until your insurance claims have come back with their payment before sending you a monthly invoice. Our staff will check with you to confirm the payment schedule works for you. If you have questions or concerns about the payment schedule, let them know and they will try to accommodate when possible. Enrolling in auto-pay is the easiest option, which means the system automatically collects payment when an invoice is available. You can enroll in auto-pay when our staff create your account, or you can check that box later.
- Additional information: Our staff will ask how you heard about our clinic and if anyone in particular referred you here for therapy. If you were referred by your primary care physician, or have one that you work with, our staff will ask if you’d like your therapist to coordinate care with them. They will also inform you of the late cancelation and missed appointment policy, and they’ll ask if you’d like your virtual session to take place over video conference or phone call.
After you finish chatting with our staff, they will send you an email recapping the information discussed in your call. They will also send you a symptom checklist to complete before your first session, which takes a few minutes and helps your therapist prepare to meet with you. And then, you are registered and ready to begin therapy!