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2876 Johnson Ferry Rd., Suite 150 Marietta, GA 30062
770-361-7864 [email protected], [email protected]
I am very pleased that you have selected me to be your therapist, and I am sincerely looking forward to assisting you. This document is designed to inform you about what you can expect from me regarding confidentiality, emergencies, and several other details regarding your treatment. Although providing this document is part of an ethical obligation to my profession, more importantly, it is part of my commitment to you to keep you fully informed of every part of your therapeutic experience. Please know that your relationship with me is a collaborative one, and I welcome any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding your course of therapy at any time.
The following information regarding my educational background and experience as a therapist is an ethical requirement of my profession. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Georgia. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
It is my belief that as people become more aware and accepting of themselves, they are more capable of finding a sense of peace and contentment in their lives. However, self-awareness and self-acceptance are goals that may take a long time to achieve. Some clients need only a few sessions to achieve these goals, whereas others may require months or even years of therapy. As a client, you are in complete control, and you may end your relationship with me at any point.
In order for therapy to be most successful, it is important for you to take an active role. This means working on the things you and I talk about both during and between sessions. This also means avoiding any mind-altering substances like alcohol or non-prescription drugs for at least eight hours prior to your therapy sessions. Generally, the more of yourself you are willing to invest, the greater the return.
Furthermore, it is my policy to only see clients who I believe have the capacity to resolve their own problems with my assistance. It is my intention to empower you in your growth process to the degree that you are capable of facing life’s challenges in the future without me. I also don’t believe in creating dependency or prolonging therapy if the therapeutic intervention does not seem to be helping. If this is the case, I will direct you to other resources that will be of assistance to you. Your personal development is my number one priority. I encourage you to let me know if you feel that terminating therapy or transferring to another therapist is necessary at any time. My goal is to facilitate healing and growth, and I am very committed to helping you in whatever way seems to produce maximum benefit. I truly hope we can talk about any of these decisions. If at any point you are unable to keep your appointments or I don't hear from you for one month, I will need to close your chart. However, as long as I still have space in my schedule, reopening your chart and resuming treatment is always an option.
Your communications with me will become part of a clinical record of treatment, and it is referred to as Protected Health Information (PHI). Your PHI will be stored electronically with Therapynotes.com, a secure storage company who has signed a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA ensures that they will maintain the confidentiality of your PHI in a HIPAA compatible secure format using point-to-point, Federally approved encryption. Additionally, I will always keep everything you say to me completely confidential, with the following exceptions:
(1) you direct me to tell someone else and you sign a “Release of Information” form;
(2) I determine that you are a danger to yourself or to others;
(3) you report information about the abuse of a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual who may require protection; or
(4) I am ordered by a judge to disclose information. In the latter case, my license does provide me with the ability to uphold what is legally termed “privileged communication.” Privileged communication is your right as a client to have a confidential relationship with a therapist. This state has a very good track record in respecting this legal right. If for some unusual reason a judge were to order the disclosure of your private information, this order can be appealed. I cannot guarantee that the appeal will be sustained, but I will do everything in my power to keep what you say confidential.
Please note that in couple’s counseling, I do not agree to keep secrets. Information revealed in any context may be discussed with either partner.
Our relationship has to be different from most relationships. It may differ in how long it lasts, the objectives, or the topics discussed. It must also be limited to only the relationship of therapist and client. If you and I were to interact in any other way, we would then have a "dual relationship," which could prove to be harmful to you in the long run and is, therefore, unethical in the mental health profession. Dual relationships can set up conflicts between the therapist's interests and the client’s interests, and then the client’s (your) interests might not be put first. In order to offer all of my clients the best care, my judgment needs to be unselfish and purely focused on your needs. This is why your relationship with me must remain professional in nature.
Additionally, there are important differences between therapy and friendship. Friends may see your position only from their personal viewpoints and experiences. Friends may want to find quick and easy solutions to your problems so that they can feel helpful. These short-term solutions may not be in your long-term best interest. Friends do not usually follow up on their advice to see whether it was useful. They may need to have you do what they advise. A therapist offers you choices and helps you choose what is best for you. A therapist helps you learn how to solve problems better and make better decisions. A therapist's responses to your situation are based on tested theories and methods of change.
There is another dual relationship that therapists are ethically required to avoid. This is providing therapy while also providing a legal opinion. These are considered mutually exclusive unless you hire a therapist specifically for a legal opinion, which is considered "forensic" work and not therapy. My passion is not in forensic work but in providing you with the best therapeutic care possible. Therefore, by signing this document, you acknowledge that I will be providing therapy only and not forensic services. You also understand that this means I will not participate in custody evaluations, depositions, court proceedings, or any other forensic activities.
You should also know that therapists are required to keep the identity of their clients confidential. For your confidentiality, I will not address you in public unless you speak to me first. I must also decline any invitation to attend gatherings with your family or friends. Lastly, when your therapy is completed, I will not be able to be a friend to you like your other friends. In sum, it is my ethical duty as a therapist to always maintain a professional role. Please note that these guidelines are not meant to be discourteous in any way, they are strictly for your long-term protection.
I assure you that my services will be rendered in a professional manner consistent with the ethical standards of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. If at any time you feel that I am not performing in an ethical or professional manner, I ask that you please let me know immediately. If we are unable to resolve your concern, I will provide you with information to contact the professional licensing board that governs my profession.
Due to the very nature of psychotherapy, as much as I would like to guarantee specific results regarding your therapeutic goals, I am unable to do so. However, with your participation, we will work to achieve the best possible results for you. Please also be aware that changes made in therapy may affect other people in your life. For example, an increase in your assertiveness may not always be welcomed by others. It is my intention to help you manage changes in your interpersonal relationships as they arise, but it is important for you to be aware of this possibility nonetheless.
Additionally, at times people find that they feel somewhat worse when they first start therapy before they begin to feel better. This may occur as you begin discussing certain sensitive areas of your life. However, a topic usually isn’t sensitive unless it needs attention. Therefore, discovering the discomfort is actually a success. Once you and I are able to target your specific treatment needs and the particular modalities that work the best for you, help is generally on the way.
For the safety of all my clients, their accompanying family members and children, other therapists in the building and staff, I maintain a zero tolerance weapons policy. No weapon of any kind is permitted on the premises, including guns, explosives, ammunition, knives, swords, razor blades, pepper spray, garrotes, or anything that could be harmful to yourself or others. I reserve the right to contact law enforcement officials and/or terminate treatment with any client who violates my weapons policy.
TeleMental Health is defined as follows:
“TeleMental Health means the mode of delivering services via technology-assisted media, such as but not limited to, a telephone, video, internet, a smartphone, tablet, PC desktop system or other electronic means using appropriate encryption technology for electronic health information. TeleMental Health facilitates client self-management and support for clients and includes synchronous interactions and asynchronous store and forward transfers.” (Georgia Code 135-11-.01)
TeleMental Health is a relatively new concept despite the fact that many therapists have been using technology-assisted media for years. Breaches of confidentiality over the past decade have made it evident that Personal Health Information (PHI) as it relates to technology needs an extra level of protection. Additionally, there are several other factors that need to be considered regarding the delivery of TeleMental Health services in order to provide you with the highest level of care. Therefore, I have completed specialized training in TeleMental Health. I have also developed several policies and protective measures to assure your PHI remains confidential. These are discussed below.
Telephone via Landline:
It is important for you to know that even landline telephones may not be completely secure and confidential. There is a possibility that someone could overhear or even intercept your conversations with special technology. Individuals who have access to your telephone or your telephone bill may be able to determine who you have talked to, who initiated that call, and how long the conversation lasted. If you have a landline and you provided me with that phone number, I may contact you on this line from my own landline in my office or from my cell phone, typically only regarding setting up an appointment if needed. If this is not an acceptable way to contact you, please let me know. Telephone conversations (other than just setting up appointments) are billed at my hourly rate.
In addition to landlines, cell phones may not be completely secure or confidential. There is also a possibility that someone could overhear or intercept your conversations. Be aware that individuals who have access to your cell phone or your cell phone bill may be able to see who you have talked to, who initiated that call, how long the conversation was, and where each party was located when that call occurred. However, I realize that most people have and utilize a cell phone. I may also use a cell phone to contact you, typically only regarding setting up an appointment if needed. Telephone conversations (other than just setting up appointments) are billed at my hourly rate.
Text messaging is not a secure means of communication and may compromise your confidentiality. Furthermore, sometimes people misinterpret the meaning of a text message and/or the emotion behind it. Therefore, I do not utilize texting in my therapy practice, and I will not respond to a text message for your protection. If you happen to send me a text message by accident, you need to know that I am required to keep a copy or summary of all texts as part of your clinical record that address anything related to therapy.
Email is not a secure means of communication and may compromise your confidentiality. However, I realize that many people prefer to email because it is a quick way to convey information. Nonetheless, please know that it is my policy to utilize this means of communication strictly for appointment confirmations. Please do not bring up any therapeutic content via email to prevent compromising your confidentiality. You also need to know that I am required to keep a copy or summary of all emails as part of your clinical record that address anything related to therapy.
I also strongly suggest that you only communicate through a device that you know is safe and technologically secure (e.g., has a firewall, anti-virus software installed, is password protected, not accessing the internet through a public wireless network, etc.). If you are in a crisis, please do not communicate this to me via email because I may not see it in a timely matter. Instead, please see below under "Emergency Procedures."
Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Etc:
It is my policy not to accept "friend" or "connection" requests from any current or former client on my personal social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. because it may compromise your confidentiality and blur the boundaries of our relationship.
However, Alan Behrman & Associates, PC has a professional Facebook page and professional Twitter account @BehrmanAssoc. You are welcome to "follow" me on any of these professional pages where I post psychology information/counseling information/therapeutic content. However, please do so only if you are comfortable with the general public being aware of the fact that your name is attached to Alan Behrman & Associates, PC. Please refrain from making contact with me using social media messaging systems such as Facebook Messenger or Twitter. These methods have insufficient security, and I do not watch them closely. I would not want to miss an important message from you.
Video Conferencing (VC):
Video Conferencing is an option for us to conduct remote sessions over the internet where we not only can speak to one another, but we may also see each other on a screen. I utilize doxy.me. This VC platform is encrypted to the federal standard, HIPAA compatible, and has signed a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA means that doxy.me is willing to attest to HIPAA compliance and assumes responsibility for keeping our VC interaction secure and confidential. If we choose to utilize this technology, I will give you detailed directions regarding how to log-in securely. I also ask that you please sign on to the platform at least five minutes prior to your session time to ensure we get started promptly. Additionally, you are responsible for initiating the connection with me at the time of your appointment.
I strongly suggest that you only communicate through a computer or device that you know is safe (e.g., has a firewall, anti-virus software installed, is password protected, not accessing the internet through a public wireless network, etc.).
I have a client portal that is accessible through my website at www.alanbehrman.com, which is powered by therapynotes.com ensures this portal is encrypted to the federal standard, HIPAA compatible, and has agreed to sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA means that therapynotes.com is willing to attest to HIPAA compliance and assumes responsibility for keeping our interactions secure and your PHI confidential. If we choose to utilize this technology, I will give you detailed directions regarding how to log-in securely. I also strongly suggest that you only communicate through a device that you know is safe (e.g., has a firewall, anti-virus software installed, is password protected, not accessing the internet through a public wireless network, etc.).
Electronic Transfer of PHI for Billing Purposes:
If I am credentialed with and a provider for your insurance, please know that I utilize a billing service who has access to your PHI. Your PHI will be securely transferred electronically to Billing Connections, LLC This billing company has signed a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA ensures that they will maintain the confidentiality of your PHI in a HIPAA compatible secure format using point-to-point, federally approved encryption. Additionally, if your insurance provider is billed, you will generally receive correspondence from your insurance company, my billing company, or both.
Please communicate only through devices that you know are secure as described above. It is also your responsibility to choose a secure location to interact with technology-assisted media and to be aware that family, friends, employers, co-workers, strangers, and hackers could either overhear your communications or have access to the technology that you are interacting with. Additionally, you agree not to record any TeleMental Health sessions.
During a TeleMental Health session, we could encounter a technological failure. The most reliable backup plan is to contact one another via telephone. Please make sure you have a phone with you, and I have that phone number.
If we get disconnected from a video conferencing or chat session, end and restart the session. If we are unable to reconnect within ten minutes, please call me.
If we are on a phone session and we get disconnected, please call me back or contact me to schedule another session. If the issue is due to my phone service, and we are not able to reconnect, I will not charge you for that session.
TeleMental Health services should not be viewed as a complete substitute for therapy conducted in my office, unless there are extreme circumstances that prevent you from attending therapy in person. It is an alternative form of therapy or adjunct therapy, and it involves limitations. Primarily, there is a risk of misunderstanding one another when communication lacks visual or auditory cues. For example, if video quality is lacking for some reason, I might not see a tear in your eye. Or, if audio quality is lacking, I might not hear the crack in your voice that I could easily pick up if you were in my office.
There may also be a disruption to the service (e.g., phone gets cut off or video drops). This can be frustrating and interrupt the normal flow of personal interaction.
Please know that I have the utmost respect and positive regard for you and your wellbeing. I would never do or say anything intentionally to hurt you in any way, and I strongly encourage you to let me know if something I've done or said has upset you. I invite you to keep our communication open at all times to reduce any possible harm.
Please check the TeleMental Health services you are authorizing me to utilize for your treatment or administrative purposes. Together, we will ultimately determine which modes of communication are best for you. However, you may withdraw your authorization to use any of these services at any time during the course of your treatment just by notifying me in writing. If you do not see an item discussed previously in this document listed for your authorization below, this is because it is built-in to my practice, and I will be utilizing that technology unless otherwise negotiated by you.
In summary, technology is constantly changing, and there are implications to all of the above that we may not realize at this time. Feel free to ask questions, and please know that I am open to any feelings or thoughts you have about these and other modalities of communication and treatment.
My practice is considered to be an outpatient facility, and I am set up to accommodate individuals who are reasonably safe and resourceful. I do not carry a beeper nor am I available at all times. If at any time this does not feel like sufficient support, please inform me, and we can discuss additional resources or transfer your case to a therapist or clinic with 24-hour availability. I will return phone calls and emails within 24 business hours. However, I do not return calls on weekends or holidays. If you are having a mental health emergency and need immediate assistance, please follow the instructions below.
If you have a mental health emergency, I encourage you not to wait for communication back from me, but do one or more of the following:
If we decide to include TeleMental Health as part of your treatment, there are additional procedures that we need to have in place specific to TeleMental health services. These are for your safety in case of an emergency and are as follows:
I offer primarily face-to-face therapy sessions. However, based on your treatment needs, I may provide phone, email, or video conferencing (TeleMental Health). The structure and cost of both in-person sessions and TeleMental Health is $105 per 50 minute session, $165 per 75 minute session, unless otherwise negotiated by us or your insurance carrier. The fee for each session will be due at the conclusion of the session. Cash, personal checks, and venmo are acceptable for payment, and I will provide you with a detailed receipt of payment. The receipt of payment may also be used as a statement for insurance if applicable to you. Please note that there is a $30 fee for any returned checks.
Phone calls and emails (other than just setting up appointments) are billed at my hourly rate for the time I spend reading and responding. Please note that any bills accrued for e-mailing other than scheduling are not covered by insurance plans.
In the event that you are unable to keep either a face-to-face appointment or a TeleMental Health appointment, you must notify me at least 24 business hours in advance. If such advance notice is not received, you will be financially responsible for the session you missed. Please note that insurance companies do not reimburse for missed sessions.
Please print, date, and sign your name below indicating that you have read and understand the contents of this “Information, Authorization and Consent to Treatment” form as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Notice of Privacy Practices” provided to you separately. Your signature also indicates that you agree to the policies of your relationship with me, and you are authorizing me to begin treatment with you. Please note that this updated "Information, Authorization & Consent to Treatment" replaces any previously signed informed consents.
I am sincerely looking forward to facilitating you on your journey toward healing and growth. If you have any questions about any part of this document, please ask.
The signature of the Therapist below indicates that she or he has discussed this form with you and has answered any questions you have regarding this information.