Paul J. Fitzgerald,MA, PsyD.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
219 55th Street, Suite 301
(TANKS Corporate Center)
Clarendon Hills, IL 60514
(1 1/2 Blocks West of Illinois Route 83, between Holmes Ave. and Clarendon Hills Rd.)
24-hour Private Voice Mail:
What You Need to Know about Psychotherapy and Counseling Services, and My Practice:
I have worked in the mental health field for twenty-two years. I received a master's degree in counseling psychology in 1986 and a Doctor of Psychology degree in 1997. I was trained at the Alfred Adler Institute (now the Adler School of Professional Psychology) in Chicago. Adlerian therapists believe that we all strive to fit in and belong among others, and that all behaviors can be seen in relationship to that goal. They help people look at their basic beliefs and work to remove feelings of discouragement. I am also certified in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which teaches people to change the thoughts that lead to emotional upset.
I opened my practice in the western suburbs in mid-1998. I am married with a young adult son, and a teenage daughter and son.
About the Therapy and Counseling Process:
Therapy usually begins with an assessment session lasting fifty minutes. After reviewing the therapy agreement, we discuss the problem and what led up to the decision to seek help. I ask about the client's living situation, family background, health history, and job. I ask about other possible concerns and risk factors, such as substance use, as well.
At the end of the first session, the therapist and client make a plan for further services, including a time frame. Most therapy is short-term, and is focused on resolving the presenting problems. During later sessions, we talk about progress in meeting goals, and revise the plan if needed.
It is important for you to know the potential benefits and risks of any health care services you receive. You should know that the types of psychotherapy and counseling provided in my practice do not include any experimental or unproven techniques, nor any techniques that are knowingly intended to be distressing or disruptive to the individual. I do not use hypnosis or any other technique intended to stimulate the recall of events or feelings of which the person had not been aware. The style of psychotherapy used in my practice is based on the client and therapist discussing problems and ideas in a collaborative manner. The benefits of this approach are that the client remains in control of the process, sets her or his own goals, and is free to follow the therapist's suggestions or not. Another benefit is that the client learns skills to problem solve outside of the counseling or therapy setting. These skills include self-management, assertive communication, identifying problematic thoughts and beliefs, and setting goals and priorities. Along with these skills may come an increase in self-understanding, especially in terms of personality traits and the ways that they influence behavior and relationships.
Although the risks of conventional counseling and psychotherapy are small, there remains some risk, particularly in couples or family therapy. Things may be said which are upsetting, accusations may be made, and feelings may be expressed in ways that they have not been expressed before. While it is usually better for these things to take place with the therapist there to act as a moderator and guide, there may still be times when somone may suffer hurt feelings or hear distressing news. Even in individual counseling or therapy, it is possible that thinking about problems or feelings that had previously been avoided could prove distressing. However, the counselor's role is to assist the client in thinking through these issues and, with encouragement, arriving at a better way of looking at things.
Methods Used in Therapy:
The choice of method or methods is dictated by the problem and the client's needs:
The style of therapy you may expect from me is fairly direct and straightforward. I will not hesitate to make suggestions and recommendations and provide encouragement. Not all clients feel comfortable with one particular therapist; if that is the case, I will help make a referral to someone who might provide a better fit.
Illinois law (and the ethical guidelines of the National Board for Certified Counselors) governs confidentiality of mental health and counseling information. In general, no information will be released to anyone without your written consent. This includes any disclosure that you have sought or received counseling or psychotherapy. Under certain unusual circumstances, therapists may be required to disclose information without a client's consent. These circumstances include:
If a spouse or other family member asks for information, none can be released without a signed consent. One family member's individual sessions remain confidential even if other family members join later sessions. However, if one person participating in marital or family therapy chooses to share information with the therapist outside the presence of a spouse or other family member, the therapist will encourage the person to share that information later in a conjoint session. This is especially important if the information is likely to have an effect on the relationship. Therapists are placed into a position that renders them less effective as helpers when they are asked to keep secrets from others participating in the counseling process. It also creates difficulties when one family member asks the therapist to relay messages or recommendations to another family member, rather than bringing the matter up in a session to discuss it openly.
When leaving phone messages, I will only leave my name and phone number, and will not say what the call is about. Although there should be no stigma or shame attached to seeing a helping professional, you have the right to keep the fact that you have done so private.
If you plan to use insurance or managed care, you need to consent to the release of billing and case management information (including diagnosis, recommendations, treatment plans, and progress).
The fee for each fifty-minute session is $70.00. My policy is to collect the fee at the time of service, and I appreciate payment at the time of each session. I will be glad to submit a claim to your insurance company for reimbursement to you. Some managed care or insurance plans stipulate a co-payment as your only payment to me.
A sliding fee scale is available for a limited number of clients who have larger family size and/or lower family income. I may ask for evidence of family income for verification. The sliding scale fee is only available on a limited basis, and may not be available at all times.
Personal checks are accepted, but I am unable to accept credit cards for payment.
A Note about Managed Care and Self-payment of fees:
Some people prefer to self-pay their fees for psychotherapy or counseling rather than using a managed care plan, due to concerns about privacy or control over their treatment. You may wish to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using managed care. Managed care plans typically require a counselor or therapist to report information about presenting problems, risk factors (such as the presence of suicidal feelings or domestic violence), treatment goals, and response to treatment. Some people are concerned that this information may remain in databases unknown to the member, or may make its way back to a human resources office or supervisor at work, especially if the employer administers the plan. In addition, most managed care plans impose restrictions and limitations on the number of sessions that are allowed, even with co-payments by the member. Managed care also limits the choice of providers. Some of the behavioral health organizations to which managed care plans refer members have waiting lists, and some have assigned people to groups rather than offering individual counseling. Finally, some managed care and insurance plans do not cover relationship or marriage counseling, except in some instances if one of the individuals is diagnosed with a mental disorder. For people whose difficulties are primarily with a relationship, this may leave them without coverage.
With all these considerations, you may decide that paying for counseling services yourself is the best way to assure control of the services you receive and assure a higher degree of confidentiality. This is one reason I have made a commitment to setting reasonable fees and offering a sliding scale of fees when possible. Another option is to use a "flexible medical spending account" (offered by some employers), to pay for psychotherapy or counseling services that are not covered by insurance. With these accounts there is typically no need to provide information about the reason for services or any assessment results, only the amount spent and the type of service received with dates of service.
Appointments are fifty minutes in length, and are scheduled with me directly by phone or in person. Evening and Saturday morning hours are available.
A charge is made for missed appointments unless I receive a call. Calling at least 24 hours before an appointment that you need to cancel is strongly encouraged.
About Emergencies and Therapist Availability:
My practice does not have emergency or crisis service availability. If you need these services, you may be referred to another health care organization that has them.
In an emergency, you need to seek assistance at a hospital emergency room.
This brochure is intended to help you understand the counseling and therapy process, and what to expect from me. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call my voice mail number.
I am also available to speak to groups on topics related to families, emotional health and relationships, usually without charge. Please call if you are interested.
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