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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I pay someone to listen to my problems?


Unlike a friend or loved one, a therapist is an unbiased, non-judgmental person with professional training in counseling services. A skilled therapist has a theoretical orientation on which she bases her therapy. Therapy is not simply talking about your problems – it is sharing the sources of your distress with a skilled professional who uses empirically-supported methods to help to alleviate your emotional pain or specific symptoms.


How can I trust my therapist to protect my information?

​Psychologists are required to take certain measures to protect client's personal information as mandated by the rules and regulations of the professional psychology field. These measures include:


  • Ensuring that employees, including supervisees, office staff, and billing personnel, who handle records are appropriately trained regarding the ethical and legal standards related to managing confidential client information.

  • Keeping paper and electronic records in a secure manner in safe locations where they may be protected from damage and destruction.

  • Storing files in locked cabinets or other containers housed in locked offices or storage rooms. Psychologists protect electronic records from unauthorized access through security procedures (e.g., passwords, firewalls, data encryption, and authentication).

What is the difference between therapy and a psychological evaluation?


Therapy is considered to be an ongoing therapeutic relationship between a mental health professional and a client that occurs over multiple sessions based on the discretion of the therapist.


A psychological evaluation usually consists of one to two sessions during which a clinical interview is conducted to answer a specific referral questions(s). Psychological testing may also be involved depending on the nature of the evaluation. Large amounts of information are obtained during an evaluation, especially during the clinical interview, targeted specifically at answering the referral question. Possible referral questions include but are not limited to:

  • I feel tired all the time and have felt very little motivation to do much of anything, even get out of bed sometimes. What is wrong with me?

  • Does my child have ADHD?

  • Several people have told me that I may be "borderline." What does that mean, and do I have it?

  • I'm an attorney, and I have a client who is exhibiting very strange behavior that makes it hard for me to communicate with him. Is he competent to stand trial?

  • I am a combat veteran who is having a lot of trouble adjusting to civilian life. Could I have PTSD?

  • I was in a severe car accident a year ago and am no longer able to work. My family thinks I should file a lawsuit against the truck driver who hit me. My attorney mentioned something called "earning capacity" that has to do with the amount of money I am losing due to my inability to work. What is my earning capacity?

Do you prescribe medication?


No, psychologists generally do not prescribe medication. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication because they are medical doctors. If you are seeing a psychologist and need medication, your psychologist can refer you to a prescribing physician, if appropriate.



How is a psychologist different from a psychiatrist or mental health counselor?


A licensed psychologist has a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D.) in either clinical, counseling, or school psychology. Psychologists are trained to provide therapy, assessment, and consultation services. Psychologists have special training in psychological assessment and evaluation that other mental health professionals typically do not have. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication and provide therapy services. A mental health counselor is a Master’s-level practitioner who typically has training to provide therapy services.


I have health insurance that I am considering using for psychological services. Is this a good idea?


There are advantages and disadvantages to using your health insurance for therapy. Therapy, especially if it is long-term, can be quite costly, so insurance can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. Most insurance companies also provide lists of therapists who are in their network, which can make it easier to find a therapist in your area. However, there are several disadvantages to using health insurance for mental health services that many people have not considered:

  • It is difficult to control confidentiality when using health insurance because information about the content and progress of a client's treatment is required for every claim made. Therefore, it is more difficult to control who has access to your private information.

  • Not all health insurance plans include mental health benefits, so make sure you understand the details of your plan.

  • Every insurance claim must include a diagnosis. Therapists are typically familiar with which diagnostic codes insurance companies will cover and which are questionable. If you do decide to use health insurance, make sure you collaborate with your therapist about what your diagnosis will be before it becomes a part of your permanent record.

  • Many psychologists and therapists are not on insurance panels due to their lower reimbursement rates. These low rates make it difficult for many practitioners to sustain a practice. In addition, many practitioners who are specialists in certain area of practice are not on insurance panels.

  • Insurance companies often limit the number of therapy sessions, regardless of what your treatment provider thinks is appropriate.

  • Most insurance companies do not cover couple’s counseling.

  • Most insurance companies do not cover forensic evaluations.


Do you accept health insurance?


No, Smisson Psychology Services, P.A. does not accept health insurance or file claims with third party payers. Many psychologists who do not accept health insurance will see clients who have out-of-network benefits. If you are considering using out-of-network benefits, it would be wise to contact your insurance company and ask the following questions:


  • Does my plan cover mental health counseling sessions?

  • Does my plan cover only individual counseling or will it also cover family or couples counseling?

  • How many sessions does my plan cover in a year? How many sessions do I have left?

  • Does my plan cover services to out-of-network mental health providers?

  • What is the deductible I have to meet before coverage to an out-of-network provider kicks in?

  • Is there a maximum amount per session the insurance will cover for an out-of-network provider?

  • How much time do I have to file a claim for out-of-network services?

  • Do I need pre-authorization or a referral from my psychologist?

  • What is the process to get reimbursed for out-of-network benefits?


  *   All above responses are written in general terms. There are exceptions to many of these.

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