When it comes to finding a counselor or therapist in Orlando, it’s important to find the one that is best fit for you—with or without insurance. It’s understandable why an individual would want to explore the most economical methods when researching counselors, however you must then decide what is the price you’re willing to put on your mental health. Finding the right counselor for you should be a very personal decision. Finding the right counselor who matches your specific personality type or communication style can be like finding the right puzzle pieces that fit.
Oftentimes, people find that when they are forced to choose from a specific network of providers, they get less benefit from their sessions than if they had picked someone of their own choosing. This makes a lot of sense in the mental health field because it’s the type of treatment that requires the client and the counselor to work together in a very collaborative way. When a client has hand selected their provider, chances are they have spent time researching on the internet and evaluating which provider would be a good match for them. From the very beginning, even before they have begun treatment, they have made a connection and determined their standard of care.
Why do some clients prefer to pay privately for counseling in Orlando? There are many reasons that a person may choose to pay privately and they vary from individual to individual. Some clients will argue that when they rely solely on insurance to determine their provider selection, they are risking the quality of their sessions. Insurance companies claim to choose their in-network providers based on the results of their extensive screening process, but the truth is they select providers based primarily on “location demand.” Once a provider is selected in a certain zip code, they remain in the “network” for extended periods of time, and new providers are not allowed to enroll. This limits diversity in provider selections and prohibits new providers who may have extensive training’s, or new methods of practice to offer, from being accessible. When it comes to mental health, there is a constant stream of new research, modalities of practice, and information that is being learned so it can be very helpful to your outcome success to find a therapist that has the ability to offer a variety of therapies.
Limiting your choice to providers that only treat clients who are referred to them by the insurance companies limits your treatment options. An added benefit to hand selecting a counselor is that clients often find that when they use an independent provider they are getting a higher quality of care. They may realize that without the stream of referrals form an insurance source, the specific professional they have chosen has worked hard to build their clientele base solely on reputation, client rapport and feedback, personalized care, and a true dedication to individualized, high quality treatment standards.
For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the most common modality that is often covered by insurance. CBT is a great form of therapy that works on both cognitive errors as well as behavioral changes, however it’s not always the best form of therapy for every individual. This type of therapy requires a good deal of personal introspection that a lot of clients just aren’t ready for right away. It also requires a lot of personal disclosure and talking on the clients part, which can be intimidating and difficult for specific populations.
In the case of couples/relational work, long term trauma, grief, physical or emotional abuse, depression, and panic attacks or acute anxiety, just to name a few, CBT alone is not always the most appropriate form of successful treatment. As a matter of fact, CBT can actually be quite ineffective in some cases, and can cause a lengthier time in therapy, requiring more sessions, with little long-term benefit or relief. Traditional “talk” therapy may work great for most people, but finding a counselor that isn’t limited to this type of practice could offer you the greatest opportunity to keep your length in treatment short, brief, and solution focused.
Along with only covering certain therapeutic modalities, insurance mainly only covers individual counseling sessions; therefore if you are in need of marriage, family, or group therapy, the odds may not be in your favor. Although some insurance polices claim they offer coverage for couples counseling, they are not insinuating that they cover authentic relationship or marital counseling.
“Coverage for couples counseling” refers to a procedural code insurance companies use to state that a spouse may be present during sessions. The specific code commonly used is Procedural Code 90847: “Family psychotherapy, conjoint psychotherapy with the patient present,” meaning a spouse is permitted to be present for sessions and assumed to be providing support for the individual seeking mental health counseling.
This means that the primary focus of sessions remains on the individual who is covered under the policy and sessions must be modeled on their needs, not necessarily the needs of the couple. True couples/marital counseling work requires a more labor intensive approach, and at times sessions will and should fall outside the typical 50 minute standard. If a couple is truly hoping to gain skills and insight into their relationship, they are not likely to find a provider in their “network” that will be capable of achieving these goals within the set insurance parameters.
Counselors who are in-network with a specific insurance panel, and are obligated to operate under the guidelines of that policy. They will have a contracted rate for a very specific type of service. This limits their scope of practice and ability to utilize methods of treatment that do not fall within insurance guidelines for covered treatment. If they go outside this base-line, regardless of their individual client’s needs, they can open themselves up to liability.
That means that even if they know of a specific method of treatment that might help their client more than, say, for example, “CBT,” then they may be reluctant or not willing to suggest or use it. This happens in the medical profession as well. It is one of the primary reasons why some clients prefer to find their own providers based on their decision to take charge of their own treatment methods. An individual should do a cost/benefit analysis when making these decisions. They may find that the benefits of successful treatment in shorter periods of time far outweigh the costs they might pay without using insurance.
Some examples of extremely useful and successful mental health treatments that may not be offered due to lack of coverage by insurance might include; eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, known as EMDR, Dialectical Behavioral Treatment, or DBT, Career or Life Coaching, On-Location sessions/visits or desensitization techniques for specific phobias, Imago Therapy or specific couples/relational work, Online/Telephone Sessions, among many others. Although these options are not covered by insurance in most cases, any client can still access them if they choose to pay for them privately.
It makes a lot of sense for someone who has any concern or illness to be able to weigh all their treatment options and select the right choice for them, rather than being limited to the options their insurance will cover. Selecting the right professional and the right course of treatment for your specific needs is the real key to a truly successful outcome.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.