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Getting Started / FAQ

Initial Paperwork and Forms

For all NEW clients: The initial intake paperwork and consent forms will be included in your Client Portal for easy access and completion prior to your first scheduled appointment. For parents of minors in two separate households, the initial paperwork and consent forms will be emailed directly to you by our Client Care Coordinators upon scheduling your first appointment. Please be sure to provide us with your frequently used e-mail address. If your sessions are in-person and you require a paper intake packet, please arrive 15 minutes early and let our admin staff or your therapist know. All necessary paperwork MUST be completed prior to your first appointment. Thank you.

{All of our forms are also available in Spanish upon request}.

"Notice of Privacy Practices" - {For your records only}.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q: How many sessions will it take until I start to feel better?

A: This can vary from person to person, depending on the concerns bringing you in to therapy, support that you have outside of therapy, whether you've had therapy in the past, etc. We conceptualize the first 3-4 sessions with a therapist to be the "intake/assessment period", where your therapist is getting to know you, your background, & your goals for therapy. Some clients benefit from what we consider "brief/short-term" therapy (6-8 sessions, solution-focused). If a client has more severe/acute concerns, mental illness symptoms, more difficulty functioning, or less support outside of therapy, they may benefit from longer-term therapy. Please note that often times you may initially feel more sad/down/upset before you start to feel  that progress is being made. For many individuals this is the first time they are talking about very difficult parts of their lives, so it is understandable that you may feel that emotional heaviness as you begin this journey with your therapist. It is a normal part of the process. Your therapist will help you to create a plan for treatment, but there is no 'right or wrong' answer for how long therapy 'should' last.

QCan my therapist complete my disability/LOA paperwork?

A: It is the policy of Positive Change, as recommended by the professional associations of California Law, that licensed psychotherapists do not complete disability paperwork for a patient/client without the proper training, as this would be considered outside of the scope of their practice. The therapists at Positive Change are not able to complete any requests for disability paperwork (e.g. State Disability, Leaves of Absence 'LOA', Family Medical Leave 'FMLA'). Medical doctors and some licensed Psychologists have this training, therefore it is recommended that you consult with your Psychiatrist, Primary Care Physician, or other medical doctor for disability paperwork requests.

Q: I'm having a lot of stress and anxiety and it's making it difficult to go to work/school. Can my therapist write me a letter stating that I need time off?

A: It is considered outside of the scope of a psychotherapist's practice to give their opinion on whether or not a client is or isn't able to attend work/school. This assessment and determination would need to come from the client's Psychiatrist or Primary Care Physician. Your therapist is able to write what are referred to as "treatment summary letters" which provide dates of therapy, any presenting symptoms, goals for treatment and any applicable diagnoses (but not whether these symptoms/diagnoses should warrant a leave of absence). Please consult with your doctor to receive documentation that excuses you from work/school, or that substantiates your need for a leave of absence.

Q: Can my therapist write a letter making my pet an 'emotional support animal'/service animal, or stating that I can take them on an airplane? 

A: It is the policy of Positive Change Counseling Center, as recommended by our professional associations, that mental health clinicians do not complete Emotional Support Animal (ESA) assessments/letters for clients. Our clinicians have not received proper training to assess for a “meaningful need” for ESA’s. Without proper training, such action as writing an ESA letter would be outside our professional scope of practice, and can be considered unethical. The ADA and DOJ do not currently recognize any form of certificate, identification card, vest, or tag as proof of an animal’s designation as a service animal OR an emotional support animal. As of now, the only individuals authorized to write ESA letters are healthcare providers (such as your doctor) or human service providers, so clients are encouraged to consult with these providers.

Q: Why is the clinician that I wanted to see listed as "available" on my insurance website, but they're currently not taking new clients?

A: Your health insurance provider keeps a directory listing of clinicians/providers who they actively are contracted with. Unfortunately, your insurance provider likely isn't able to update in real-time whether that provider has availability in their schedule for new clients. The best way to know whether a therapist has openings for new clients is to call our front desk directly and inquire: (619) 733-6414. Our therapists often have clients who are 'graduating' out of therapy, and so their availability can vary every few weeks. You're encouraged to keep checking back for openings, or to view the bios of our other therapists to see if anyone else might be a good fit for you.

QDoes anyone in your practice prescribe medication?

A: At this time, there are not any providers at Positive Change who are able to prescribe medications. Additionally, it is considered outside the scope of our clinicians' practice to recommend or suggest medications, herbs, supplements or 'over the counter'/OTC medications to clients. Prescriptions and recommendations for medications must come from a medical doctor (MD/DO), a Psychiatrist, or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Pharmacists can also discuss medications with you, at your local pharmacy.  

QWhat is EMDR?

A: EMDR stands for "Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing". It is a manualized therapy modality which is particularly effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. It is used to treat many other indications as well, such as depression, anxiety and more. Therapists need to be specially certified in EMDR and several of our clinicians are. We offer EMDR at some of our office locations, as well as virtually over teletherapy. You can do EMDR concurrently with psychotherapy and many of our clients find benefit in doing both. For more information please check out our YouTube video or the national EMDR website at


QWhat is Biofeedback?

A: Biofeedback focuses on learning about how your body responds to stress through non-invasive, live computer feedback. During a session, various physiological changes in your body are monitored, including your heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing, skin temperature, muscle tension, and skin sweat response, which are then displayed on the computer, thus providing the feedback. Sessions also involve learning strategies to manage and regulate these responses and achieve relaxation. Biofeedback is typically a short-term treatment, particularly if the client is already in traditional therapy at the same time. On average, biofeedback lasts for about 5-12 sessions, and sessions are typically the same length as talk therapy sessions. To learn more about Biofeedback check out our blog by Andee Schurr, MFT.


QWhat type of therapy is provided for depression? anxiety? trauma?

A: Our clinicians are trained in a variety of therapy modalities, including but not limited to: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma-Focused CBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), Gottman Couples Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Bowen Family Systems, EMDR, art & play therapy. Many of these models are able to target depression, anxiety, trauma, behavioral concerns, marital concerns, and more. To find out which of our therapists is trained in a particular therapy approach, please view their biographies on our website.

Q: Do you offer ADHD testing or psychological evaluations?

A:  At this time, there are not providers at Positive Change who are able to provide formal testing for ADHD and psychological evaluations. It is considering outside of the scope of practice for Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, or Licensed Professional Counselors to perform this type of testing and it is recommended to be completed by a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. Additionally if testing for ADHD is needed in order to obtain services for your child’s education plan it is best to request an evaluation to be completed by your child’s School Psychologist through the Special Services Department in your child's school district.

Insurance & Fees

QWhat will my copay be?

A: Your copay (the amount of money per session that you may owe after your insurance is billed), varies based upon which insurance plan you carry, whether you have an annual deductible to meet, etc. For an exact quote, please call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card (there may be a separate number for behavioral health services), or please contact our Billing Specialists at or (619) 733-6414.

Q: Does my insurance cover telehealth (video sessions)?

A: Please contact your insurance provider to determine your exact benefits. To do this, please call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card (there may be a separate number for behavioral health services), or please contact our Billing Specialists at or (619) 733-6414.


QDo you offer a sliding scale?

A: For clients who wish to do 'private pay' (e.g. paying 'out of pocket' and not bill an insurance plan) our fee per session is $180-$220/session for a Licensed Clinician and $155/session for an Associate (pre-licensed) Clinician . We do reserve several therapy slots for lower fees. To see if you qualify, please contact our front desk administrative team at or (619) 733-6414.

Q: Do you offer a free initial consultation?

A: While we do not offer the intake session for free, we do very much value ensuring that you will feel a good therapeutic 'fit' with your therapist. This is why we encourage you to review their biographies on our website, to see who you might want to work with. We conceptualize the first 3-4 sessions to be the intake/assessment period, where your therapist is getting to know you, but you are also getting a feel for them as well! If at any point you feel that your therapist is not the right match for you, we encourage you to bring this to their attention, or to our Client Coordinators, such that they can help connect you with the right resources. Our goal is that you will feel safe, understood and supported by your therapist.


Q: How many sessions am I authorized for by my insurance?

A: This may vary depending upon which insurance plan a client carries, or whether they are going through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Some plans allow for unlimited sessions, while others authorize a certain amount (and may require 're-authorization' paperwork to be completed by your doctor or therapist for additional sessions). To find out how many sessions you are authorized for please call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card (there may be a separate number for behavioral health services), or please contact our Billing Specialist at or (619) 733-6414.


Q: I am covered by two insurance plans. How does billing work?

A:  If you are covered by two insurance plans, we only accept and bill your primary insurance. We will send claims to your primary insurance and you will be responsible for the copay/cost share set by your insurance plan. After payment is collected, we can supply a 'Super Bill' that you will send to your secondary insurance company for reimbursement. For example, if you have a $25 copay, your therapist will collect this amount and we would then supply you with a Super Bill that you would send to your secondary insurance. Your secondary insurance may then reimburse you for the $25 out of pocket cost.

Q: How do I determine which plan is primary and which plan is secondary?

A: If for example you are covered by your work's insurance plan and your spouse's insurance plan, your personal insurance through your work would be considered primary. For student health plans and Tricare, your other insurance will always be primary and Tricare or the student health plan will always be secondary.

Q: My child has two insurances. How do I know which one is the primary insurance?

A: The parent who has a birthday (month/day) that is earlier in the calendar year will be considered to hold the primary insurance for the minor. For example, parents' birthdays are March 2nd and September 30th (regardless of the year), the parent with the March birthday will be the primary insurance. It is not based not the age of the parents. If your child is a college student and has dual coverage with one plan being the student health plan, the student health plan will always be secondary.

For children/minors

Q: How old does my child need to be in order to give full consent for treatment without parent(s)/guardian(s)?

A:  In the state of California, a child 12 years of age and older can legally consent to their own treatment/psychotherapy without parents’/guardians' permission, if the clinician determines the minor can participate meaningfully in treatment. We will always make every effort to gain written permission from a child's parent(s) unless it would be harmful to the child to do so.

Q: Do parents need to attend the first session?

A: At least one parent or guardian needs to be present for the first session. It is recommended that parent(s)/guardian(s) speak with the therapist about how they will be involved in treatment following the initial appointment. Some therapists recommended that for children under the age of 13 that the parents attend the 1st session without the child present (to allow for informed consent regarding mental health services to be reviewed and to clarify any questions about the services that will be provided to your child). Other therapists do prefer to have the child involved in the intake session, at least for part of it.

Q: Will I need to participate in sessions with my child?

A: Participation expectations in therapy sessions with your child may vary depending on the assessment of your child’s needs as well as the therapist’s approach. Please discuss these expectations with your child's therapist during your initial intake session to learn more about the role you play in your child’s treatment.

QI share 50/50 custody with the other parent. What do I do?

A:  When legal custody is shared, BOTH parents will need to sign for and consent to treatment of the minor. In cases where a parent holds 100% legal custody, that parent will sign and consent to treatment for the minor and a copy of the court documentation will be requested to be reviewed. It is necessary to ensure that all court orders are being followed accordingly, prior to treatment.

QI have 100% custody over my child but the other parent insists on being allowed in therapy. What do I do?

A:  A copy of the court documentation about custody would be needed to ensure that court orders are being followed. The parent who has 100% legal custody, per court orders is able to make the decision of who may participate in treatment for the child. Please note, we are bound by rules in regards to legal custody, not physical custody.

Q: Can my child’s therapist provide court documentation, or work with the courts regarding a custody dispute?

A:   It is the policy of Positive Change that therapists will not be able to provide court documentation or court participation regarding matters related to child custody as this would be considered outside of their scope of their practice. It is best to speak with your legal representative about obtaining resources for a '730 custody evaluator' who possesses the appropriate training and certification to assume this role.

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