Discovery Counseling Austin
Practice Policies & Informed Consent

Informed Consent for Counseling Services

Welcome to Discovery Counseling Austin, a group practice of Weber Wellness, PLLC. This document contains important information that we are required to share with you about the professional services and business policies of Discovery Counseling Austin.    

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY

The information you share with your counselor in a counseling session is considered confidential and private. Counseling content will not be shared outside of your counseling sessions except in a few exceptional cases. In Texas law, the exceptions to the confidentiality of counseling include: 1) When there is a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or elder adult abuse. 2) When there is a reasonable suspicion that you may present a danger of violence to others. 3) When there is a reasonable suspicion that you are likely to harm yourself unless protective measures are taken. In all of the above cases, the counselor is required by law to break confidentiality in order to protect you, or someone you’ve discussed with us, from harm.  Also, the general information of a session may be discussed in a one-on-one or group consultation but in this setting, confidentiality is maintained because all identifying information about you will be removed in order to maintain your anonymity.

How does HIPAA relate to confidentiality?

HIPAA is a federal law that provides privacy protections and patient rights about the use and disclosure of your Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations.

COUNSELING SERVICES

As a client in counseling, you have certain rights and responsibilities and your counselor has corresponding responsibilities to you. These rights and responsibilities are described in the following sections.  Counseling has both benefits and risks. Risks may include experiencing uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness, guilt or anxiety because the process of psychotherapy often requires discussing the unpleasant aspects of your life.  However, psychotherapy has been shown to have benefits because it can lead to significant reduction in feelings of distress, increased satisfaction in relationships, greater personal awareness and insight, increased skills for managing distress and resolutions to specific problems. 

 

APPOINTMENTS

The first session (sometimes referred to as an “intake session” or “initial session”) will involve a comprehensive evaluation of your needs and it can last between 50-90 minutes.  After one session, we will be able to offer you some initial impressions of what counseling might include (two or more sessions may be required to complete the assessment). You should evaluate the assessment information and make your own determination about whether you feel comfortable working with your counselor for future sessions. After the initial session, you and your counselor will decide on frequency of sessions, e.g. twice weekly, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.

Sessions will ordinarily be 50-55 minutes in duration and scheduled at times convenient for you based on mutual schedule availability. We typically schedule at the same time every week, bi-weekly, etc. so that your spot is reserved into the future.  The time scheduled for your appointment is assigned to you and you alone. If you need to cancel or reschedule a session, we ask that you provide 24 hours’ notice. It is our policy to collect a “missed appointment fee” for sessions canceled in less than 24 hours or you do not show for your session.  The only exception to this rule about cancellation is if you would endanger yourself by attempting to come (for instance, driving in dangerous weather), or if you have a fever or have fallen ill suddenly and are unable to drive.

Termination: If you do not attend appointments for 2 weeks in a row with no communication about the absences, we will take you off the regular schedule as a courtesy to you.  We will close your file with us if you haven’t communicated with us in 90 days.  Our door is always open to you to return for additional support such as resuming counseling or getting referrals for additional services with a different provider.

PROFESSIONAL FEES

The fee for an initial session and subsequent sessions is $130.00 for a 50 minute session. Nutrition Intake sessions are $150.  Family and Couples counseling sessions are $150.00 for a 50 minute session.  Any discounts or sliding scale arrangements are determined by your counselor.  We ask that you pay your fee at the time of your session, unless prior arrangements have been made. Our preferred method of payment is credit card or cash although payment can also be made by check. Checks must be made out to Discovery Counseling Austin. 

Credit Card on file policy: We request a credit card saved on each client’s file and our Electronic Health Record securely stores your credit card information securely. No one at Discovery Counseling Austin has access to this card information.  In providing us with your credit card information, you are giving Discovery permission to automatically charge your credit card on file for your co-pays/co-insurance, outstanding balances, services, and/or products.  This agreement will expire upon termination of services and settlement of final balance. The card holder may also revoke this consent at any time in writing (email is sufficient) while understanding that continued services may not be available if an unpaid balance accrues. 

Please be aware that if you anticipate becoming involved in a court case, you should discuss this fully with your counselor before you waive your right to confidentiality. If your case requires our participation, you will need to pay the hourly fee for the time required to prepare for and attend court proceedings, even if another party compels us to testify.

 

INSURANCE

If you have a health insurance policy, we will collaborate with you to explore options for billing your insurance.  Insurance will not offer reimbursement for services provided by a provisionally licensed provider and out-of-network providers may not be covered under your insurance plan.  If you discover that we are not “covered” by your insurance and you prefer to use a provider that is “in-network”, we are happy to provide referrals to the best of our ability.  You can find updated policies on our “in network” plans, which counselors are available “in network”, etc. on our website. 

Be aware that you are responsible for fees not covered by insurance.

If your therapy is being paid for in full or in part by a Health Insurance Plan, the plan may require detailed progress reports and on occasion, copies of your case file. Discovery Counseling Austin does not have control over any aspect of your policy rules. However, we will do all that we can to maximize the benefits you receive by filing on your behalf (for in-network plans) and providing documentation as needed.  

Diagnosis

If an insurance company is paying for part of your bill, we are required to give a diagnosis to that third party in order to be paid. Diagnoses are technical terms that describe the nature of your problems and something about whether they are short-term or long-term problems. Your counselor is open to discussing diagnosis with you at any time and all of the diagnoses come from a book titled the DSM-IV.


PROFESSIONAL RECORDS

Counselors are required to keep appropriate records of the counseling services that they provide and keep your records for 5 years after you end counseling. If your counselor leaves Discovery Counseling Austin, your records will stay with Discovery Counseling Austin so you can access them up to 5 years after you terminate counseling. Your records are maintained on a secure, HIPAA compliant electronic medical record. When documentation is needed from your file, it can be printed as a paper copy. Except in unusual circumstances, you have the right to a copy of your file. Because these are counseling records, they may be misinterpreted so it is recommend that you initially review them with your counselor.

 

COMMUNICATION & ONLINE INTERACTION

Phone communication is the most direct form of communication but answering the phone is often difficult for counselors so secure email and secure text are the most common means of communication.  We use a HIPAA secure email and text services to send and receive messages.  When your counselor is on vacation or unavailable, they will make every attempt to inform you in advance of planned absences, and provide you with alternative ways to reach them or provide the name and phone number of the mental health professional covering their client needs in their absence. Even with the HIPAA secure services we use, we advise you to avoid sharing personal information in any written communication and to wait until a face-to-face meeting to discuss confidential matters. 

When you reach out to your counselor:

If you feel you cannot wait for a return call or if you feel unable to keep yourself safe and you are in Austin, Texas: If you are experiencing a psychological crisis, please contact Seton for help at http://www.seton.net/behavioral-health-care/emergent-psychiatric-treatment/ or call 877-918-2039.   If you are experiencing a psychological emergency, Seton does not serve walk-in emergency clients so please go to your nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1.  If you want to text for support, you can also Text “START” to 741-741 to connect with the National Text Crisis Line: http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/ *You can also find this information on our website, should you need it later.

 

Internet Confidentiality

Counselors WILL NOT accept friend or contact requests from any clients, on any social media site. This is to protect your confidentiality.  Discovery Counseling Austin maintains business pages on various social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. This is strictly for the purposes of providing resources and updates about our practice to the community at large. You may view or share any of the content provided there, but please do not message or contact us via social media, as these communication platforms are not secure. You may also find us on sites, like Yelp or Google Business. It is unethical for counselors to solicit testimonials from our clients, so please do not misinterpret our listing as a request for ratings or reviews. That being said, you have every right to list a review, positive or negative, on any platform you wish.   It is also common that current clients may refer friends and family to our practice. When you’ve referred someone, your therapist will do everything they can to keep your personal information private and secure. What you share on the Internet or in public regarding your privacy is your legal right, but we strongly encourage you to take your privacy very seriously.

 

OTHER RIGHTS

You are free to end therapy at any time. You have the right to considerate, safe and respectful care, without discrimination as to race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexuality, age, religion, national origin, or source of payment. You have the right to ask questions about any aspects of therapy and about your counselor’s specific training and experience.  If you are unhappy with what is happening in therapy or if you have questions about our procedures, please share these concerns immediately. Such feedback will be taken seriously and handled with care and respect. If your doubts persist, we will be happy to help you set up a meeting with another mental health professional. 

 

COMPLAINTS

If you would like to make a complaint against your provider at Discovery Counseling Austin (LCSW, LMSW, LPC, LPC-Intern, LMFT or LMFTA) you may contact the practice director at sara@discoverycounselingaustin.com or 512-607-9360 or contact the Licensing Board in Texas: call 1-800-942-5540 to request the appropriate form or obtain more information. This number is for complaints only.  Or you can mail complaints to Complaints Management and Investigative Section, P.O. Box 141369 Austin, Texas 78714-1369

 

If you have any questions about this information, please speak with your counselor or you may email the Practice Director at hello@discoverycounselingaustin.com

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