Knoxville Counseling Services, PLLC

Frequently Asked Questions

Read below for common questions people have about counseling and information about working with us.

 What is my first step?

There are many ways you can connect with one our therapists:

1.     Explore the webpages of our therapists and choose one you think would be a good fit and contact them directly.  Our email addresses and phone numbers are listed, and you can submit an inquiry through the website on their page.

2.    You can email the general inquiry page and let us know 1) the client’s age, 2) the general issues you’d like to work on, 3) any insurance you’re hoping to use, and 4) any scheduling requests.  This will be filtered to a therapist we match you with and the therapist will contact you to potentially move forward with scheduling. 

3.    You can call the main phone number, 865-247-4431, and leave a confidential voicemail.  Please let us know the same information as listed in #2 and we will return your call within 24 business hours.  Please note we do not have a receptionist. 

Where is your office located?

We have two office locations.

Our West office is conveniently located just off Kingston Pike about a mile east of Turkey Creek behind Pizza Hut and Christian Brothers Automotive.  It is also near the intersection of Kingston Pike and Pellissippi, near Fort Sanders West.  There are several offices in our complex with ample parking and ADA accessible entrances. You are welcome to park in any open space.

Our North office is conveniently located just off I-75N at the Callahan Drive exit. It is across the street from Rusty Wallace Honda. It is located in a small, professional office park with ample parking and ADA accessible entrance. Once you have entered Legacy Square, you will take an immediate right and our office is at the end of the building, closest to the Weigels. You are welcome to park in any open space.

Is there paperwork to fill out?

Yes.  Prior to your first scheduled appointment, your therapist will send you an invitation to our TheraNest Client Portal.  You will be asked to set up a username and login and review the paperwork sent to you.  This includes our informed consent, HIPPA Privacy Practices, the attendance policy, intake questionnaires, and any other forms specific to you.  Your electronic signature indicates you understand and gives us permission to work with you.  If you have any questions, please wait to sign the paperwork and address and questions/concerns with your therapist at the first appointment. 

Do I have to sign up for the client portal?

Yes, it is certainly preferred.  We understand there are many log-ins and passwords people have to keep track of today. The client portal allows us to be more efficient in our work and therefore devote more time to client care and less time to paperwork.  The client portal also allows you to see upcoming appointments and communicate with us directly via email-like messages.  If you have extenuating circumstances as to why you cannot utilize the portal, please let us know.

 

What should I expect during my first appointment?

During your first session, your therapist will review the initial paperwork you have filled out, ask questions to clarify if necessary, and may take additional notes. Your therapist will make sure that you understand policies and procedures, including confidentiality, and will answer any questions you may have. While working to understand your particular issue and motivation for attending therapy at this time, you and your therapist will also start to set some goals for your treatment. 

 

Is there any special lobby etiquette?

Our lobby is quiet and homey, and you will quickly notice there is no receptionist; our office looks more like a living room than a healthcare therapist’s waiting room.  Upon entering, please have a seat and make yourself comfortable while you wait for your therapist to come get you for your appointment.  Though our lobby may be more comfortable than some waiting rooms, we ask that all clients and children remain respectful of the sessions in progress and use appropriate volume for voices and electronics you may choose to use.   

 

Do you accept insurance?

Each of our therapists has their own policies regarding what insurance they accept. Please visit individual pages to learn more about specific insurances accepted.  

 

How do I know what my responsibility will be if I use insurance?

Every insurance plan is different.  Prior to your appointment, please contact the number on the back of your insurance card and ask what your responsibility is for in-network, outpatient behavioral health.  It is your responsibility to find this information.  You may have a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible to meet.  If you have co-insurance or a deductible, let your therapist know and they can inform you of what your responsibility is then (it is all dependent on the contracted rates for each service type between the therapist and the specific insurance company). 

 

Do you accept out-of-network clients?

Yes.  The fee is then our full self-pay fee and we will submit the insurance claims for you.  You will need to contact your insurance provider directly to ask about out-of-network benefits.

 

Do I have to use my insurance? Are there times when I may want to choose not to use my insurance? 

No, you don’t have to use your insurance.  If you choose a therapist who is in-network with your insurance, you still have the option to self-pay if you prefer.  Thankfully stigma around mental health issues is decreasing.  However, there are certain circumstances in which it could be detrimental to have a mental health diagnosis required for insurance (such as certain government or military jobs, police officers, pilots, and public officials).  It can also affect life insurance policies and future insurance rates either with companies or on the marketplace.  Some may want to get the benefits of therapy without the added label or may not want their health records shared with insurance agencies for a variety of reasons.  

There are also times when clients do not meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis.  They certainly still benefit from the therapy space and the work done, but it is processing normal life events and functioning in life is not impaired (a critical criterion for any mental health diagnosis).  If this is the case, your therapist will discuss with you our inability to file a formal claim with the insurance company because you don’t meet medical criteria and then discuss self-pay rates.

Certain services, such as marriage counseling, are not covered by insurance companies.  They  don’t consider marital distress a mental illness and as such, don’t pay to treat it.   In addition, our philosophy is that the “client” in marriage counseling is the relationship itself and the dynamic between the two people.  

Mediation services, co-parenting coaching, and collaborative divorce services are outside the scope of insurance coverage.

We also have much more freedom with clients if you are self-paying for services and not utilizing insurance.  We are not governed by what they think is our best course of treatment, how long you need to be in services, and we have the ability to set up package systems or concierge services that fit your needs.  

Do you have sliding scale fees?

Yes. A sliding scale fee is offered by our counselor intern, who is in the second year of her masters program in Mental Health Counseling and has completed a 6 month practicum. She has the ability to see clients herself or with a licensed co-counselor for cost of co-pay or sliding scale rate.

There are several benefits to working with a counseling intern as noted by Psychology Today. In addition to the energy and enthusiasm of a someone new to the profession, interns have a smaller caseload and benefit from access to the multiple perspectives of highly skilled clinicians and educators offered through supervision. Other advantages are direct exposure to new evidenced based interventions and special time and attention to each client’s unique case.

How do you handle payment?

Your therapist will take your payment at the beginning of your session. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, or card (credit, debit, or HSA). 

Is therapy worth the cost?

Therapy is a financial investment.  It is an investment in yourself, your child, your relationship, your family, etc.  Think of the investment as similar to services such as a personal trainer, a gym membership, a chiropractor, a sports coach for your child, a massage therapist, etc. These are all elective services you seek in order to be better and live healthier lives.  In therapy, you gain the ability to practice healthier ways of thinking, responding, behaving, relating, and this can have a profound positive impact on your life - your relationships, your health, your work, and even your finances.  If you are like many of the individuals we have worked with, you have invested a considerable amount of time, energy, and money in your education, your home, your career, and your physical health.  Investing in therapy as an act of self-care is a continued investment in your overall success and wellbeing.  We tell all clients you get out of this process what you put into it, so the return on your investment is within your control.

How long do people usually go to therapy?

The therapeutic process is an individual one, and there is no way to predict exactly how long a client will need to continue therapy.  For an acute stressor such as a break-up/divorce, loss of job, or life transition, 6 months is a typical time frame.  For others looking to change deeply rooted patterns of beliefs and behaviors, the process may take longer.  Most clients are seen for at least 12 months.  Children may move faster through the process with adequate parental support and can expect length of treatment to be 6-9 months, though some emotional and behavioral issues are more complex, and require extended treatment and support. You and your therapist will discuss goals and progress throughout treatment. 

The frequency of sessions is also discussed at the beginning and throughout. Most clients start out weekly to start the process, build rapport, and build skills.  As progress seems to be made, then dropping down to bi-monthly and then doing a few monthly check-ins to monitor progress is normal. However, some clients start out twice a month – it all depends on your individual circumstances.  We are always working towards graduation and sending clients back out into the world on their own!  You can always return in the future if something else comes up, either for an ongoing time period or for a check-in.  It is helpful to have that relationship established and not have to start over with someone new. 

 

What is the difference between therapy, counseling and coaching?

You may see these terms used interchangeably depending on the practice or issue.   However, there are some distinct differences between the three.  Therapy, or psychotherapy, focuses on patterns of behaviors, thoughts and feelings which have contributed to current presenting mental health issues and works to identify belief systems and actions which may not be working for clients. Therapy is more in-depth and usually takes longer to make lasting changes as we work to uncover hidden beliefs and then adjust thoughts and behaviors in order to provide relief from psychological pain.  

Counseling tends to focus on more time limited problems (divorce, life transition, grief) and may be briefer, solution-focused, and also includes processing thoughts and feelings about the presenting issue.  Insurance does not typically cover phase of life issues treated in counseling unless there is also an underlying mental health issue present.

Coaching can be utilized for a variety of situations from lack of motivation to how to be more fulfilled in parenting, performance, or your career.  Insurance does not cover coaching as there is no mental health diagnosis given, and this option would be used for those who want to focus on present and future success in order to be more fulfilled in one or more areas of life. 

 

What is video counseling?

If you live in TN and you are unable to attend weekly sessions in person, we offer video counseling for adults and teenagers. These sessions take place on a HIPPA compliant video conferencing platform through TheraNest and your client portal. Telehealth may be covered by your insurance, but it is your responsibility to call and find out if it is prior to the appointment. We also offer this as a self-pay option. If you choose video conferencing as an option, we prefer to meet in the office for the first session, as we believe meeting your therapist in person at least once prior to video sessions is deeply beneficial in establishing trust and rapport.  However, if you are seeking our services from a distance because of our specialties or approaches, then we will still consider working with you via video. 

 

How long does a therapy or coaching session last?

Therapy sessions are 45-50 minutes long.  If using insurance, you will only be allowed to schedule one 45-minute session per day. Also depending on your insurance company, siblings cannot be seen on the same day.  If extra time is needed due to crisis or emergency situation, you can schedule for a double session of 1.5 hours and will be billed at the self-pay rate for additional time.  Self-pay sessions are typically 45-50 minutes as well, though you have the flexibility to request an extended session of 1 hour, 1.5 hours, or 2 hours depending on need and preference.  All will be billed according to the hourly rate.  

Coaching sessions are typically one hour but you may schedule additional time if needed since coaching services are all self-pay.

Some therapists also offer services such as intensive multi-hour sessions with them to work on marriages or family dynamics. 

Is what I say in therapy kept confidential?

Yes! You can expect that what you say in therapy will be kept confidential and not shared with anyone whom you have not signed a release for.  There are some legal limits to confidentiality, or times when your therapist would have to break confidentiality.  We cover all of that in our first session.  Also please note that if you are using your insurance, they have access to your file and information at all times if they so choose.  

 

How do I choose a therapist?

Picking the right therapist is all about a good fit of personalities (both client and therapist), current issues which have prompted you to seek therapy, areas of expertise of the therapist, and the approaches (or theoretical orientations) the therapist uses to work with your issue.  You can visit our main practice page and start by looking at a therapist’s bio to see if anything that particular person has said resonates with you.  Look for specialty training, therapeutic models used, blogs or FAQs if applicable. If you are an adult with depression who prefers a secular, female therapist, look for those qualities in a bio, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will be building a therapeutic relationship, and this is arguably the most important part of the process! Don’t be afraid to be discerning, in fact, it’s recommended!  The more information you give us about your preferences, the more we know how to work with you better.  

 

Will just talking about my feelings bring about change in my life?

One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy is that you just talk and talk about feelings or past events with little or no focus on the present.  While that may be true for some therapists, that is certainly not the way our therapists work with clients.  While there will always be space to talk and process thoughts and feelings, our therapists tend to be more direct and engaging and actively work to design interventions, exercises, and thoughtful action steps if that is what you are looking for as part of your work.  The cliché images of laying down on the couch and someone asking you, “How did that make you feel?” does not exist at our office!  Yes we have couches, yes people make themselves comfortable, but they don’t lay down and we certainly don’t stay stuck in the feelings.  Change comes through doing and thinking differently.  

 

What if I decide I do not want to work with my therapist?

The therapeutic relationship works best when you have a trusting bond with your therapist.  If at any point during the relationship you do not want to continue in therapy, you are free to discontinue sessions.  If you would like a referral for another therapist, we are happy to provide one.  We will also respect your wishes if you do not want a referral or further recommendations. All services are voluntary and may be discontinued at will without fear that it will be taken personally.  

How you feel about the therapist and their approach is the most crucial element in a person’s successful experience in counseling.  We do not take this fact lightly and want you to have the best experience possible.  We understand there are many different approaches and we do not take it personally if you want to work with someone else.  

We may also suggest to you we are not the best fit based on your presenting problem (some emerge after a period of time working together) or if our approach does not seem to be resulting in change for you.  At the end of the day, we want our clients to get the help they need, whether that is with us or someone better suited, to live more fulfilled lives. 

 

 

Have a question you don’t see listed here?  Please email us and ask!  

We look forward to working with you.