Frequently Asked Questions
What ages of clients do you see?
At the moment, due to the restrictions of being completely virtual, I am only seeing clients over the age of 12. While I love working with younger children and hope to do so again when in-person therapy is an option, they often have more difficulties engaging in virtual therapy and miss out on the hands-on aspects of play therapy that can be done in the traditional office setting. I eagerly look forward to being able to meet with young kids again when I am back in a physical office. If your child is under the age of 12 and you believe they would be able to engage in more of a talk-based therapy, I am happy to discuss the possibility of working with them.
As for an age ceiling, I tend to specialize in working with younger adults (under 40) but again, there is no hard and fast rule about age! It’s more about making sure we are a good fit together, which we can do during your free 15-minute phone consultation.
What locations do you serve? Do I need to reside in Mercer County/New Jersey?
Due to all MCS service being completely virtual at this time, I am able to see clients who are currently residing anywhere in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. You do not need to be a legal resident of these states, however, you do need to be physically located in NJ/PA during each of our virtual visits to abide by clinical licensing laws. Some clients may better benefit from seeing a therapist that is based in their community. By doing so, the therapist may have more knowledge and information about local resources, and when it is safe to meet in-person, they would not have a need to switch therapists to do so. This is more a matter of personal preference. I'd be happy to discuss what might be best for your situation during our initial phone call.
Mercer Counseling Services is local to Mercer County, located in central New Jersey. Surrounding areas include Princeton, Plainsboro, Lawrenceville, Pennington, Hopewell, East Windsor, Hightstown, West Windsor, Hamilton, Ewing, Lambertville, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
What will we do in therapy?
This is largely up to you! Most often, therapy consists of a weekly discussion about what brought you to therapy, how your symptoms are affecting your life, learning about ways to manage them, sharing what you have tried and how it has or hasn’t worked for you, and processing your thoughts and feelings all along the journey. Some clients prefer to have a therapist as an ear to listen to their problems and some may prefer a more structured approach of receiving tips and tricks to manage their symptoms. For younger clients, I also bring in creative activities, games, books, apps, and other things to engage them in the process. Therapy is what you need it to be, which is a decision that is made between you and your therapist.
How long does therapy last?
There is no magical number of sessions that can determine when you will be finished or "feel better." It is safe to say more than a session or two is necessary to make any headway on what brings someone to counseling. Some people find that a few sessions are all they need, while others choose to continue long-term (over 20 sessions). There isn’t necessarily a correct answer, but we can check in occasionally to discuss when “graduating” from therapy is the best choice for you.
Will you tell my parents what I say in therapy?/Will you tell me what my child says in therapy?
The laws about age and privacy in mental health treatment vary by state. The age of consent and right for privacy in New Jersey is 16 years old and in Pennsylvania it is 14. Once you have reached the age where you can consent, or agree, to your own mental health treatment, you will be granted all the rights of privacy as if you were an adult. If you do not consent to your own treatment and your parents are the ones to sign consent on your behalf, they have some increased rights to your information. There will always be circumstances where I need to speak with your parent/caregiver(s) about your treatment, such as if you are a harm to yourself or others. We will review what privacy looks like for your specific situation during the intake evaluation so that you always know what information is, or is not, private.
Do you have a physical office?
At the moment, Mercer Counseling Services is completely virtual and there is not a physical office. I hope to be able to meet with you in-person when it is safe to do so! When we have a physical location, we will continue to offer virtual services as an option, as long as they continue to be allowed by clinical licensing laws.
Why don’t you accept insurance?
There are various reasons as to why a therapist will or will not accept insurance. One main reason to why I do not accept insurance is to maintain your complete privacy. When a therapist meets with a client using health insurance, they are required to provide a diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and continuously report on treatment progress (or lack of progress) regarding that diagnosis. I do not believe that everyone who comes to therapy qualifies for or needs a diagnosis in order to receive and benefit from counseling sessions. By documenting this sensitive information on record, your privacy is compromised. The therapist is also often required to abide by certain treatment approaches and interventions, which may not be the best fit for your needs.
Regardless of whether you have a diagnosis or not, some people choose not to use their health insurance to keep this information private and separate from their health record. Since therapy can include disclosing some very sensitive information, some people feel more comfortable knowing that their diagnosis and related sensitive mental health information is not shared with their health insurance providers.
How do Out-of-Network benefits work?
Some insurance plans include Out-of-Network (OON) benefits which work similarly to rebates. In this example, you pay full price at the store for an item and then submit a receipt and form, and the manufacturer sends you a rebate check. With insurance, the receipt is called an insurance superbill. If your plan does include these benefits, you will pay for your therapy sessions up front and I will provide you a superbill at the end of the month to submit to your insurance. In turn, they will refund a percentage of your out-of-pocket costs, as determined by your plan's coverage (can be quite a broad range - usually between 40-80%). Please call your insurance provider for information on what your plan offers with regard to Out-of-Network benefits and the reimbursement process. It will be your responsibility to submit claims and monitor reimbursement status, as the check will be mailed directly to you.