What happens in the first psychotherapy session?
Your first session will be 60 minutes in length. During this time, your therapist will want to learn about what brings you in, your current struggles, symptoms, and goals, past experiences, history of mental health treatment, relationships, strengths, and challenges. Based on this evaluation, your therapist will share with you impressions about what your work together might entail. You will be able to ask any questions about this process, voice preferences or concerns. You will find that empathy, nonjudgment and positive regard are cornerstones of our approach to psychotherapy. It is very important that you find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable; the first session will help you determine if your therapist is the right fit for you.
How should I contact you and what will happen during initial contact?
Please call the general number or use the form on our website if you would like to inquire about our services, are not sure which therapist would be the best fit for you, or would like to gain assistance in figuring out whether to pursue any of the services we offer. In case we are not available to speak with you when you call, kindly leave a voicemail message with your phone number and email address and we will respond to you within 24 hours during business days or on the next business day following weekends and holidays.
During the initial phone conversation or email exchange, we will inquire about your reasons for seeking services, answer any questions or concerns you may have, discuss the fee, location, scheduling, and goodness of fit. We will also ask you to complete the new client paperwork prior to your first session.
What are your office hours?
Hours vary by clinician. We offer early morning, morning, afternoon, and evening appointments Monday through Friday. We also offer morning and afternoon appointments on Saturdays. We are currently closed on Sundays.
What is your cancellation policy?
The time that is allotted for your therapy session is reserved for you. For this reason, we require a 24-hour cancellation notice. Appointments cancelled with less than a 24-hour notice will incur a full session charge which is not covered by insurance.
Why do I have to pay for late cancellations/missed therapy sessions?
Psychotherapists are both similar to other medical practitioners and yet very different from them. Some similarities include the fact that we engage in the process of carefully assessing mental health-related symptoms and formulating a diagnosis, and many of us are on insurance panels which allows the client to utilize their insurance policy to pay for services. The key differences stem from the fact that the most essential ingredient of successful psychotherapy is the relationship between the client and the therapist. The strength of that collaborative alliance has been shown again and again by research to be absolutely critical to the effectiveness of many respected treatment modalities.
Given the nature of psychotherapy and the significance of the relationship between therapist and client, therapists cannot possibly see the same volume of clients as a primary care physician. They would not be able to remain present and provide effective care. Furthermore, to build a sense of momentum in psychotherapy, consistent (typically weekly) appointments are important – thus the therapist tends to have more limited availability for new clients.
All this means that when your therapist has an opening for you, it truly is an opening that has been reserved for you. We charge the full fee for late cancellations and no-shows for this reason.
At the same time, we recognize that sometimes you might not be able to make it to your weekly appointment. As long as you give advance notice of at least 24 hours, you will not be charged. Your therapist sometimes might be able to offer you a different slot just for that week as there could have been another client who gave advance notice as well, enabling the therapist to accommodate you. None of that is possible when you cancel late or do not show to your appointment. Please know that we recognize you may be well-justified in failing to give advance notice – you might be sick, get delayed at work, etc. The late cancellation/no-show policy that we have in place is not meant to suggest these are invalid cancellation reasons. It has been created to safeguard our ability as psychotherapists to provide you with the most effective, attuned care possible.
Can you be reached via public transportation?
Yes, buses and CTA trains operate near our office. If using CTA, take the Brown Line to the Chicago stop and walk one block west on Chicago Avenue. Turn right on N. Orleans Street and walk ½ block north. Wildflower is located on the west side of the street in a red brick building. The entrance is on the north side of the building.
Is parking available on site?
Paid parking is available in the parking lot just north of the building. There is also street parking available, both free and metered, in the surrounding area.
Do you offer services in languages other than English?
Yes, we have Spanish and Polish speaking therapists on staff.
Do you prescribe psychotropic medication?
While we do not have psychiatrists on staff who can prescribe medication, we have strong relationships with providers in the community. We will refer you for consultation with a psychiatrist if your symptoms are severe enough to warrant exploration of whether medication would be an effective adjunctive treatment.
Do you work with children and adolescents?
Several of our therapists work with children and adolescents. Please call to inquire further.
Do you work with couples and families?
All of the therapists on our team work with couples and families. We see couples who are experiencing conflict, navigating various life transitions such as becoming parents, having school-age children, adjusting to an empty nest, coping with infidelity or betrayal. We also work with couples who wish to engage in premarital counseling or are simply looking to maintain a close and loving bond.
How often should I see my therapist?
We recommend to all clients that they commit to weekly sessions. This frequency of sessions is most associated with positive outcomes in psychotherapy. Over time, this frequency may be increased or decreased depending on your needs. If you are experiencing a more acute crisis, having twice a week sessions may be warranted. At other times, if you have already made significant strides towards achieving your goals in therapy, it may be appropriate to come in every other week or even monthly.
What if I don’t like the therapist I see?
The success of psychotherapy has a lot to do with the goodness of fit between you and your therapist. It is a special kind of a relationship that exists specifically for the purpose of helping you overcome and cope with the struggles that you wish to address. It is critical that you feel comfortable with your therapist, can trust her/his/their expertise and sense that the therapist respects you, cares about you, and is fully committed to your wellbeing. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, the first thing is to consider sharing your concerns with your therapist. We assure you that you will be met with respect and desire to help and understand. The therapist will not be offended or upset if you tell them you would feel more comfortable with another therapist. We all recognize we cannot possibly always be the right fit for our clients. If you would rather not speak with the therapist directly, please reach out to the intake coordinator at Wildflower who has helped you schedule your initial appointment. We will help you from there.
How can therapy help me?
There are many benefits to therapy. The degree to which therapy is helpful depends on many factors, but the goodness of fit between you and your therapist combined with your willingness to put in the effort and time to work towards your goals, are key determinants of success. Here are some of the benefits of participating in therapy (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Gaining fresh perspectives on your problems
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your values, goals, and direction in life
- Developing new coping strategies for issues that include depression, anxiety, grief, conflict, trauma, stress and others
- Learning effective problem-solving skills
- Improving your self-esteem and self-confidence
- Developing skills for improving your relationship with yourself and others
- Gaining new ways to cope with stress, anxiety or other physical or emotional challenges
- Learning to be more authentic, intentional, and present in your life
- Replacing old and ineffective patterns of behavior with new ones
- Strengthening your interpersonal relationships
- Discovering new ways to resolve conflict
- Feeling acknowledged and supported
- Experiencing personal growth
Is therapy confidential?
Confidentiality is both a legal and ethical obligation that we approach very seriously. It is a cornerstone of the relationship between psychotherapist and client. After all, therapy can be a successful experience only if you feel safe and are able to speak openly about your experiences. However, please note that Illinois and federal law require release of confidential material in limited situations, such as in cases of suspected child or elder abuse or neglect, imminent risk of harm to yourself or others, or when the court demands records. Also, the State of Illinois requires us to report to the State if you are a danger to yourself or someone else and you are a firearm owner (Public Act 095-0564). Additionally, when you utilize health insurance to pay for psychotherapy services, we have to release information to insurance about your clinical diagnosis and sometimes provide additional information such as a treatment plan or copies of your clinical record. We always make every effort to release the minimum information needed to satisfy such requests. Please read our Notice of Privacy Practices to learn more about confidentiality and its limits. This document will be sent to you when you schedule your initial appointment.
How quickly will I start feeling better?
This depends on what brings you to psychotherapy. Some problems are more complex than others and require more time; others are amenable to resolution within a few sessions. Many clients report some sense of relief within the first few sessions. Notably, progress in psychotherapy does not tend to be linear; it is common to feel better and then to have a setback. Setbacks can be vital sources of learning about what else may be needed to help you thrive. Your therapist will continually monitor how you are doing and whether psychotherapy is helping. Should progress seem insufficient, other therapeutic tools and modalities will be considered to help you experience relief. As an example, some clients may find that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is helpful in alleviating their anxiety; others have a poor response to CBT but may benefit greatly from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). We are committed to helping discover what will work for you. Your therapist might also recommend adjunctive treatment or consultation that might be beneficial to enhance progress (including, but not limited to, group psychotherapy, consultation with a psychiatrist, yoga, meditation). Lastly, your level of commitment and motivation to engage in psychotherapy will make a major difference for how much benefit you derive from it. It is a collaborative effort.
What do I do in an emergency?
Unfortunately, as an outpatient practice, we do not have the ability to respond immediately to crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911 and/or proceed to your nearest emergency room.
Why am I being asked to list two emergency contacts on the new client registration forms?
Your therapist would like to have robust means of getting a hold of you if you are unresponsive to their efforts to reach you via phone or email. As mental health professionals, it is our job to attune to your emotional wellbeing and safety. Sometimes when clients fail to return calls or emails, it can mean that they are not doing well, and are feeling more down and hopeless. If that is what your therapist is concerned about, they will reach out to the emergency contact. We assure you we will only make that call if we have exhausted other means of getting a hold of you and are genuinely concerned about your wellbeing.
Do you offer sessions via video/phone?
We offer remote sessions via HIPAA-compliant video platform under limited circumstances. We first need to assess whether remote psychotherapy would likely be beneficial to you given the concerns you are looking to address. Additionally, state and federal laws govern circumstances under which such services can be offered. Most notably, per current regulations you must reside and be present in the state in which the therapist is licensed in order to engage in video-based psychotherapy. Since Wildflower therapists hold their clinical licenses in Illinois, you must be located in the said state. Additionally, in most cases insurance will not cover remote sessions with Wildflower therapists, which means they would be subject to our full (out-of-pocket) fees.
Do you accept my insurance?
We are in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and Blue Choice plans. If you plan to utilize your mental health benefits, we will file claims to insurance for you. We are out-of-network with all other insurance companies which means that we do not bill them directly. We will give you a statement that you can submit for out-of-network reimbursement.
What are the pros and cons of using insurance benefits to pay for psychotherapy?
Using your insurance policy to pay for psychotherapy allows you to substantially reduce your cost per session. This being said, there are certain disadvantages associated with utilizing your insurance benefits that you should be aware of. In order to pay for services, insurance companies mandate that we provide a clinical diagnosis and sometimes release additional information such as a treatment plan or copies of your clinical record. We will make every effort to release the minimum information needed to satisfy such requests. Some clients are uncomfortable with this limit of confidentiality and choose to pay for services privately.
Do you offer a sliding scale?
We have a limited pool of openings with our licensed clinicians at reduced, “scholarship” rates. These are reserved for clients with significant and documented financial difficulties.
Our advanced clinical intern is able to see clients who are experiencing significant financial hardship at more deeply discounted rates. Please call us to learn more.
Can I bring my baby to session?
Yes! Infants are welcome to join you. We have a changing table in the waiting area if needed and our building is accessible to strollers. You are welcome to feed your baby while in session and attend to his/her/their other needs. Once your baby becomes an active toddler who needs more focused attention, we would encourage you to secure other childcare arrangements so you can attend your session alone.
Do you offer child care?
We wish we did! Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to watch your child while you are attending a session. However, we offer flexible early morning, daytime, evening, and weekend appointments in hopes of making psychotherapy more accessible to busy parents.
Can I schedule therapy for someone else?
Yes and no. You are very welcome to initiate the process by calling us and obtaining information about availability, types of psychotherapy we offer, and asking any other questions you have. We will be happy to speak with you as we recognize that you are looking to help your friend or loved one take the sometimes difficult first step of reaching out. We will still want to briefly speak with the person on whose behalf you are calling to make sure he/she/they feel comfortable with scheduling and also ascertain whether Wildflower will be a good fit.
Do I need to obtain a referral from my primary care physician in order to be seen?
If you are paying for psychotherapy services out-of-pocket or have a PPO insurance plan, you do not need a referral. If you have an HMO plan, a referral will be needed and you may also be restricted to a smaller pool of in-network providers. Please note we are not in network with HMO plans. If in doubt about what kind of policy you have, call your insurance provider to seek clarification and inquire whether a referral is needed.
Therapist credentials: What do all those letters mean?
The letters refer to the type of clinical license the therapist carries and can also denote special certifications and endorsements they may have. All therapists at Wildflower are graduates of accredited programs in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, clinical social work, or marital and family therapy. They also engage in rigorous post-graduate training to ensure they can provide the highest quality of service to Wildflower clients.
Let’s demystify some of the most common acronyms you will encounter at Wildflower:
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) must meet strict educational and training requirements which includes two one-year practicums, a Master’s degree in clinical social work, 3,000 hours of supervised post-graduate clinical experience and successful completion of state licensing examination. LCSW’s are also required to earn continuing education units to maintain their clinical license. An LCSW has been trained in psychotherapy and helps individuals deal with a variety of mental health and daily living challenges to improve overall functioning. An LCSW is steeped in academic studies including sociology, human growth and development, mental health theory and practice, human behavior in the social environment, psychology and research methods. Credit: Tim McDaniel, LCSW
A Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) must meet strict educational and training requirements, including: a Master’s degree in counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or psychology, 600 hours served in clinical internship, and 3,360 hours of supervised post-graduate clinical work experience with 1,920 hours of direct, face-to-face counseling. LCPCs must also successfully complete a state licensing examination. LCPCs are additionally required to earn continuing education units to maintain their clinical license.
An LCPC has been trained in psychotherapy and helps individuals deal with a variety of mental health and daily living challenges to improve overall functioning. An LCPC’s requisite academic studies include human growth and development, counseling theory, psychopathology and maladaptive behavior, and research and evaluation. Credit: Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association
A Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PsyD; PhD) must meet strict educational and training requirements at the doctoral level. Psychologists may hold either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. (Doctorate of Psychology), requiring at least 4 years of graduate study, a dissertation, and clinical training. In addition to 2-3 years training in clinical practicums, all psychologists must complete a pre-doctoral internship and a postdoctoral fellowship, which are full-time training positions (3750 hours total). All told, many psychologists will have obtained around 6000 hours of supervised training while on the path to licensure. Psychologists must also pass a national licensure exam. Once licensed, psychologists are permitted to work independently and must pursue continuing education to maintain licensure.
Psychologists apply expert knowledge in human psychology to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health problems. In practice, psychologists may use different tests to assist in diagnosing problems or understanding an individual’s functioning, or they may employ evidenced-based therapies to help their clients improve their lives. Importantly, in Illinois, psychologists do not prescribe medication but will assist individuals through a variety of behavioral treatments.
A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) works with individuals, couples, families, or groups using a systemic and relational framework. LMFTs conceptualize problems as embedded within the overlapping contexts of our lives, including our individual psychology, relationships, and communities, and this framework guides an active approach to finding healthy alternative solutions. While LMFTs typically receive extensive training to address relational and familial concerns, they are also skilled in treating individual problems and respecting the reciprocal relationship our personal issues can have on our various relationships.
An LMFT must meet strict educational and training requirements including a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from an accredited program, a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised post-graduate experience (including a required minimum of relational clinical hours), and successful completion of a state licensing exam. Like other psychotherapists, LMFTs are required to earn continuing education units to maintain their clinical license, which they obtain through various trainings and seminars.
A Licensed Social Worker (LSW) has a Master’s degree in clinical social work, has completed two one-year clinical practicums, and passed a state licensing exam. Therapists with this type of licensure are trained to provide mental health services to a wide variety of clients utilizing a systems approach. This entails considering the ways in which familial, social, political, cultural and other forces illuminate the client’s symptoms and behavior. At Wildflower, clinicians with an LSW are in the process of obtaining additional training and consultation to achieve an additional level of licensure, that of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
A Licensed Professional Counselor is a Master’s level mental health provider trained to work with individuals, couples, and families. These clinicians have also met clinical practicum requirements and passed National Board for Certified Counselors’ National Counselor Examination (NCE). They are authorized for the practice of professional counseling. At Wildflower, clinicians with an LPC are obtaining additional training and consultation towards becoming Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPC) which will enable them to supervise other clinicians as well as practice independently.
CADC refers to Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse certification. Therapists with this certification have completed additional coursework and clinical supervision and taken a specialty exam enabling them to claim advanced expertise in the addiction field.
Therapists who are Perinatal Mental Health Certified (PMH-C) have been practicing in the field of perinatal mental health for at least two years, have completed specialized post-graduate coursework and passed a specialty exam. This credential is conferred by Postpartum Support International.
Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) are yoga teachers whose training and experience in yoga has met the strict requirements established by Yoga Alliance.
Registered Dance and Movement Therapists (R-DMT) have attained the basic level of competence in dance/movement therapy via specialized training and academic coursework. The distinction is conferred by American Dance Therapy Association.
Why is my therapist asking me to give written permission to communicate with my other treatment providers (obstetrician, primary care physician, psychiatrist, etc.)?
Research has demonstrated that a collaborative model in which various specialists communicate with one another regularly produces better outcomes for clients. This makes intuitive sense: mental health is profoundly linked to all other aspects of your health; it is anything but separate from the body or “in your head.” Indeed, the very phrase of mental health is misleading! We take a whole-person approach because we want to be as effective as possible. For this reason, your therapist would like to inform your doctor that you’re receiving care at Wildflower, provide them with a clinical update, and receive information about your treatment plan with your doctor.
This being said, confidentiality in psychotherapy is a critical legal and ethical obligation and we will not engage in such collaboration unless we have your explicit, written permission to do so. For this reason, we will ask you first whether you would be willing to grant such a permission by signing our Authorization for Obtaining and Releasing Confidential Information.