Common Questions

Why can't I use insurance for Couples Therapy?

Insurance typically covers "Conjoint Therapy" (90847) which is not Couples Therapy. Conjoint therapy is used to bring in a partner or family member to facilitate the therapy for an individual client who has a billable diagnosis, such as depression or anxiety. When you bill insurance, they control what is covered, the length of sessions, the treatment modalities and have access to your personal information.

In Couples Therapy, neither partner is the "identified patient."  Both partners are there to work on issues in the relationship that are causing distress.

I use the Gottman Method Couples Therapy model which involves a structured assessment phase:

1st session: both partners for 90 min and they will be required to take the online Relationship Checkup through the Gottman network.

2nd session: each partner will be seen for 50-60 min after completing the Checkup.

3rd session: both partners for 90 min to discuss the results of the Relationship Checkup and my assessment of issues to be addressed. We will begin treatment planning at this point.

          Subsequent sessions are typically 90 minutes; however, length of sessions depends on what is happening and may need to go for 2 hrs. Insurance doesn't pay for this level of therapy for couples.

How often are couples sessions after assessment is complete?

Of course this depends on the couple, but I find that most couples do well with sessions every 2-3 weeks after the initial assessment period and some are able to make progress with only monthly 2 hr sessions. How long couples stay in counseling also depends on them. I will provide you with handouts and bonus exercises (homework assignments) to help you practice what you learn at home.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

    • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
    • Developing skills for improving your relationships
    • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
    • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
    • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
    • Improving communications and listening skills
    • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
    • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
    • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.  
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face. 

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy.   Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks.  Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods.  Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life.   In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives. 

What is the difference between psychotherapy, counseling and coaching?

Psychotherapy is the process through which an individual explores the root causes of emotional issues and thought patterns that are causing distress. It is an in-depth process with the goal of understanding, healing and personal growth. Psychotherapy is a long-term relationship between client and therapist.

Counseling is more about life management, focusing on current issues and specific problems, and often includes psycho-education and “homework.” Counseling generally lasts for 6 months or less. Sometimes the therapist may utilize a combination of these approaches in helping the client to live a happier, healthier life.

Coaching is goal-oriented and therefore future oriented. Although a coach may help you set goals, identify barriers to progress and develop strategies to overcome them, coaching doesn’t explore the root causes of those barriers. It is a short-term process to help the client get what they want. Many Coaches are NOT therapists. Coaching is not a substitute for mental health care, and is not covered by insurance.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
PLEASE NOTE: I only take insurance for Individual Therapy - not Couples Therapy. I also do not accept EAP clients.

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them.  Be sure to confirm that I am in the network for your plan. They may have me listed as either Lynne Burton Clifton or Balanced Approach, LLC so ask about both. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers.  Some helpful questions you can ask them:

    • What are my mental health benefits?
    • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
    • What is my copay?
    • Do I have a deductible and how does that work?
    • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
    • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
    • Is approval required from my primary care physician? 

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office.   Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone.  This is called “Informed Consent”.  Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Psychiatrist or other therapist you may be seeing), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.


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Mountain Brook, AL 35223

Phone: (205) 206-9767

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