Suspicious therapist's office?

Jesus fucking Christ, if you want therapy from someone who has a BA or BS in Psychology, go to a coffee shop and pester the help.


“Therapy” by itself is almost a meaningless word. I mean, shiatsu is therapy. Aromatherapy is therapy. Hitting your head against the wall is therapy.

“Psychotherapy” is a much stronger term. You need a PhD or MD to be a psychotherapist, I’m reasonably confident this is true throughout the US, though I have no reference to support that claim.

I think no MSW anywhere is allowed to claim to be a psychotherapist, whatever form of “counseling” (this is the usual term, I think) they may be allowed to give.

Yes, it’s a primary key for your insurance records, so obviously the doctor wants to know it too. However, it shouldn’t be the primary key, you should always insist on a secondary identifier (which you have the right to do), as the SSID should only be required for tax records, which do not concern your insurance or medical people.

In CA, what matters is whether or not you are licensed, and if so, what you are licensed as. Any reputable counseling place will have their licenses prominently displayed, or you can ask to see their certificate. You can’t get a license to practice therapy with only a BA in psychology in CA.

Things may differ in other states because medical licensing is a state issue, not a federal issue.

I don’t give my SSN to doctors. If they want an identifier, they can have the last four digits.

Psh, that’s mean. Psych majors aren’t the highest paid, but suggesting they all end up in coffee shops is misleading. It’s not like they’re English majors!

Yeah, I should do that.

My point here is this: Robert and his wife may want to seek out different treatment options and I would absolutely sympathize with that decision. I have not always been the best custodian of my mental health treatment, but the best thing I ever did was find a practice with a psychiatrist on staff and went to counseling sessions with a Psy.D who specialized in CBT.

That said, the fact that they don’t have a PhD on staff is more likely an indication of the quality of the practice than that they’re suspicious, a scam, or have people with bachelors degrees offering mental health counseling (because it’s perfectly plausible that they have Masters degrees).

Sorry. I didn’t know you guys would need the whole story here. My wife has a psychiatrist, whom she likes, who prescribes her Abilify, which is very helpful for her. However, her psychiatrist is far away, and she wanted someone closer to act as more of a life coach. This would not be her only form of treatment. We live in a very small town (2500 people), so no, there are NOT a lot of options. So she is looking into them, and this was just the next place on her list. She was a little concerned by the “no PhD or MD” thing, but it wasn’t a deal breaker because she just needed the sessions with someone that she is comfortable with, and, frankly, she is having a REALLY hard time finding that around here.

You need to be a MD or DO to be a licensed psychiatrist in the US. Phds are psychologists. Psychotherapy is a modality of treatment.

Big-time red flag right there; for once, insurance is correct to deny payment. Anything less than an MD is unqualified.

Edit: Whoops, sorry… I was getting “Psychologist” and “Psychiatrist” mixed up there. Yes, PhD in Psychology or MD in Psychiatry, or no go.

If she just needs a life coach, try church.

Unqualified for what? Counseling with an MSW with whom you have a rapport can be quite helpful for people in certain situations. I relied on inexpensive sessions with an MSW during a stretch when I was unemployed, and I can’t imagine my life without her help. It sounds like it might be right for Robert’s wife if she’s already seeing a psychiatrist who’s managing her meds.

I would say, white out information on your pay stub you don’t want to share, and try them for a session or two. Maybe the problem is just with the front office staff - in which case, with limited options, it’d be a shame to write them off.

Wow, bad advice in any situation. If she was religious, she would have thought of that on her own, and if not, there’s basically no chance that she’ll find it helpful. Also, unless someone is a fully degreed psychologist or psychiatrist they aren’t qualified to help you talk through your problems… but they are if they work for a church?

I can understand not wanting to accept credit cards due to fees, but why wouldn’t they want to accept cash?

Good point, suicide takes out 40% of the emo little bastards. I never met a girl wearing an all-black peasant dress and white pancake makeup who didn’t want to get a psychology degree.


That’s a pretty disgusting thing to say.

My gym won’t accept cash for safety reasons. It’s not unheard of.

That’s why I think this whole “it’s a scam,” thing is kinda silly. When have you heard of anything shifty that preferred checks to cash?

Yeah, I didn’t see RS’ later post where she already has a proper Psychologist. But for the primary contact, I don’t think my position is even remotely extreme, just like you don’t ask a guy with a BS in Biology to perform surgery.

This whole situation strikes me as problem of communications or a mis-application of office policy. I can see why financial records might be required for a self-pay case, but given the situation, where Robert’s wife is essentially just “trying out” the counselor, it seems overboard to be insistent about providing those records right away. Most likely the person she spoke with has had it drilled into their head that certain things are required when insurance isn’t involved.

If it was me, I’d go by the office and ask to speak to someone who is actually in charge of the place and try to get an explanation for what was being demanded. I’d almost bet you’d get an apology with an explanation along the lines of “that’s not what is supposed to happen.”

Of course, there is no point in bothering if there are other options. Sending a nice letter explaining the experience and why it was frustrating wouldn’t hurt either.

First, remember, we’re talking about something to supplement proper therapy here, not a replacement for proper therapy.

And some of us do something even crazier than church, extarbags – we find, like, friends and neighbors who are supportive and willing to tell us when we’re fucking up, and be our life coaches. A church just happens to be a convenient place where people go to do just that. Even Scientologists have, in their own way, helped their members become better and deal with life better, or else the scam wouldn’t work so well.

Think about it. Some random individual without a bunch of staff around who works random hours at a private and quiet location and makes a lot of hourly money – that’s no situation for a cash business. If I was a private psychotherapist in some random town charging $100 or $150 an hour, I wouldn’t take cash either.

I’ll leave the comparisons you’re inviting out because this isn’t P&R, but now it’s not that you need a degree to be qualified to talk to someone about their problems, it’s that everyone is qualified except therapists?