How to Choose a Provider

When you call the INTERFACE Referral Service, our goal is to provide you with at least two matches for mental health professionals who meet the criteria you specified during your intake call. Often, callers ask us how to choose between the provider matches we have given to them. Choosing a mental health provider is a personal decision and it is acceptable to meet with more than one provider before deciding who the best fit is. Mental health professionals understand that clients are often meeting with more than one therapist before choosing who they will continue to see for treatment. Below are some questions you may consider asking a provider during your first session:

Background

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Do you specialize in treating the kind of problem(s) that I or my child is experiencing?
  • Are there other areas in which you specialize?
  • What is your degree and license/certification?
  • What percentage of your caseload consists of working with adults? Children? Families?

Treatment

  • What is your approach toward treatment?
  • How do you use collaboration in therapy? (I.e. with family, with schools, with other providers)
  • What kind of techniques/treatment modalities do you incorporate into sessions?
  • What is your policy regarding confidentiality?
  • How frequently can you see me, my child, or my family? (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)
  • In the event of a clinical emergency, would you be available? If not, whom would I call?
  • How often do you check in with parents about the course of a child's treatment and progress?
  • If you are seeing my child for individual treatment, will you also conduct family sessions if needed?
  • What will you share with me regarding what my child discloses in therapy? What are the limits of confidentiality?
  • What will happen if my child shares something that sounds risky or dangerous?
  • Do you give children “homework” to complete between sessions?
  • How do you communicate with other professionals involved in my child's care? For example, will you contact his/her medical provider? The school? If so, will I incur additional costs in asking you to do this?

If you have called us looking for a referral for your child or family, it is important to think about how involved you want them to be in the decision making process. Typically, mental health professionals want to meet with parents first. This is beneficial for gathering intake information, especially if the child is too young to provide this information on his/her own. Once this occurs, a mental health professional will most likely want to meet with the child separately or with his/her parents present. Below are some questions you may want to consider regarding your child’s level of involvement in the therapy selection process:

  • If you have a young child, do you want to choose the therapist for him/her? This is an option if you are wary about your child meeting many providers over a short period of time.
  • If you have an adolescent, do want him/her to be more involved in the decision making process?

In addition to these questions, it is also important to consider how you feel when you, your child, or family are meeting with a provider. Keep in mind it may take a couple of sessions to know for sure how you feel about a particular provider. And feel free to take some time to think about any lingering thoughts or feelings you may have about the provider. The following questions may be useful to ask yourself, your child, or your family:

  • Do I feel comfortable and safe to talk about my concerns, or my child’s concerns?
  • Do I feel like I can develop a trusting, therapeutic relationship with this provider?
  • Do I think this provider will be a good match for me, my child, or my family?
  • Can I consistently attend appointments by travelling to this location?

When you use the INTERFACE Referral Service, we will match you with a provider who accepts your health insurance. At the same time, it is important for you to understand your benefits and how your insurance plan works. For more information on this, please review our Insurance Guide for Families Seeking Mental Health Services. Some suggestions to keep in mind are:

  • Do you have a deductible that needs to be paid before insurance will cover appointments?
  • Do you have a copay and/ or coinsurance? If so, how much will it be?
  • How many sessions will your insurance cover? What happens when those sessions are used?
  • Do you need to have a PCP referral?

If you have agreed for us to match you with a provider who is out-of-network with your insurance plan, you may still be reimbursed for your sessions. Here are some questions you might want to ask your insurance company:

  • Do I have out-of-network benefits?
  • Do I need to pay a deductible before insurance will reimburse me? If so, how much is it?
  • If I submit an out-of-network claim, what percentage will be reimbursed?
  • Who will submit the claim form? Can my child’s provider submit it?

It will also be important to discuss payment and cancellation policies with your mental health provider. This is especially true if there is a deductible or copay due at each session. Here are some questions you may want to ask your, your child’s, or your family’s provider:

  • If I owe a deductible or copay, when should payment be provided?
  • What is the payment policy if I have to cancel an appointment?
  • If I have a deductible, how does your payment system work? (For example; do you charge a set rate or do you offer sliding scale fees based on income?)

It is important to remember that you can always call the Interface Referral Service with any questions you may have regarding choosing a provider for you, your child, or your family. In addition, our resource and referral counselors will call you to follow-up on the outcome of the mental health professional matches that were provided. Choosing a provider can be a challenging process. The Interface Referral Service is always here to make this process easier for you and your family. Please call us with any questions you may have at 617-332-3666 ext. 1411 or review this website for more information.

Disclaimer: Material on the William James INTERFACE Referral Service website is intended as general information. It is not a recommendation for treatment, nor should it be considered medical or mental health advice. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service urges families to discuss all information and questions related to medical or mental health care with a health care professional.