Frequently Asked Questions

Testing

Q: What kind of testing services do you offer?
We are able to provide a variety of psychological evaluation services, ranging from developmental, intellectual, emotional/behavioral, and academic assessments to vocational, premarital, personality, and other types of psychological assessments. After you have completed an initial consultation with one of our staff, an evaluation plan will be tailored to meet your individual needs.

Q: I see that you have a number of locations in the Greater Houston area. Where are testing services provided?
At this time, testing services are only offered at our main office location in Clear Lake.

Q: Who is involved in the testing process?
Licensed psychologists are an active part of the entire assessment process. Depending on your needs and the availability of our clinicians, you may be evaluated by one of our staff psychologists, licensed psychological associates, educational diagnosticians, graduate level interns, or postdoctoral residents. If seen by someone other than a licensed psychologist, all parts of the evaluation process will be overseen by a licensed member of our psychology staff.

Q: What should I expect?
Psychological testing is a three part process. First, you will meet with your clinician for an initial consultation where you will be able to share your questions and concerns. This appointment typically includes gathering history, assessing presenting problems, and mutually creating an evaluation plan. Following this first step, the testing can begin. Testing may involve interviews, school observations, brief appointments where paper-pencil questionnaires are completed, or more lengthy appointments involving interactive assessment measures. Once testing is complete and all test data is analyzed, you will again meet with your clinician to review the results and recommendations. This typically occurs within 2 weeks of the last testing appointment depending on the complexity of the case. If desired, a written report detailing the results and recommendations may be written. This report can be shared with others at your discretion, such as your doctor or child’s school.

Q: What should I do to prepare?
Make sure you or your child has a good night's sleep before the testing appointment. If you wear glasses, a hearing aid, or any other device, make sure to bring it. If you have special language needs, please alert the clinician to these. Bring with you a list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications that you regularly take. If you are on stimulants or other medications, check with the clinician beforehand about coordinating dosage time with testing. Sometimes, snacks are given to children so please alert your clinician if your child has any food allergies. If you or your child has had previous testing, an individual educational plan, or related school or medical records, please bring these with you to the initial consultation. Also, when applicable, a copy of custody documents (e.g., divorce decree) will be needed to determine if our services can be accessed by the consenting adult.

Q: What do I tell my child?
What you tell your child about this evaluation will depend on how much he or she can understand. Be simple and brief. Explain that this experience will help with a problem that your child knows about such as trouble with reading, being forgetful, or feeling upset. You can reassure a worried child that testing involves no shots, dark rooms, or bright lights. In fact, it may involve puzzles, blocks, computer games, drawings, story telling, and play! Most children and adults find the testing experience to be challenging as well as fun.

Q: Can I be in the room with my child?
Parents are usually not in the room during testing, although they may be present with very young children. We ask that parents remain in our waiting area during testing rather than dropping off their child. This typically eases a child’s nervousness with the tests and allows the clinician to communicate with the parent throughout the process.

Q: Who sees my results?
Your evaluation results are held strictly confidential and are only shared between you and your clinician. Staff does not send test data and reports to schools, doctors, or anyone else without written permission from you. Should you prefer that your insurance company not have access to these private mental health records, you may wish to pay directly for our services. In such cases, a waiver must be signed that disallows billing the insurance company. Please see our privacy policy for more information.

Q: Do you accept insurance?
Currently, we do work with most insurance plans; however, this varies among clinicians so you will need to inquire about your clinician’s ability to utilize your specific insurance plan. Please note that coverage for psychological testing services varies by individual plans. Many plans require authorization for psychological testing and allow a certain number of hours of testing and specific testing instruments. Sometimes, this is sufficient, but, other times, your clinician may recommend an evaluation that is more comprehensive in order to meet your needs. For example, many insurance plans do not cover academic or developmental testing as they may not be defined as “medically necessary.” Once the initial consultation has occurred, the clinician is able to request for testing services. An insurance company may authorize testing within a few days or may respond later, possibly upwards of 3 weeks. Testing may be authorized in full, in part, or not at all. What is not authorized may therefore be an out-of-pocket expense.

Should you not wish to go through the authorization process, we do offer self-pay options. In such cases, a waiver must be signed that disallows the Center and the client to bill the insurance company. However, if your clinician is an out-of-network provider, then authorization for testing may not apply. If this is the case, you will be given the necessary documentation so that you can seek reimbursement from your insurance carrier.

Even though this process is complicated, we do our best to individually tailor your evaluation based on your needs and work hard with your insurance company to ensure the best quality care.

Q: Should I choose to self-pay, how much does testing cost?
The cost varies depending on the complexity of the evaluation plan mutually agreed upon between you and your clinician. Generally speaking, the initial consultation is $185 (90 minute appointment), and testing thereafter is $250 on an hourly basis unless a very extensive battery is needed; in that case, your clinician may discount the hourly rate to allow for a more affordable evaluation. This fee includes face-to-face testing, scoring of the assessment measures, data analysis, report writing, and the feedback appointment in which the results and recommendations are reviewed. Evaluations can range between $250 and $2400, depending upon the evaluation plan. Payment for services is expected in full and at the time of your appointment.

Q: Do you offer other services?
Yes. Sometimes, school observations are needed to help gather more information about your child’s global social or behavioral functioning. Follow-up services such as letters for accommodations or ARD meetings may be needed. These services are not covered by insurance carriers. Fees for these services are as follows:

    • 1-hour school observation = $200 (includes travel; additional costs may incur if over a 30-minute drive)
    • On-site school meetings, behavioral assessments, attend ARD meetings, etc. = $170 per hour (includes travel; additional costs may incur if over a 30-minute drive)
    • Letter for accommodations to schools, colleges, disability offices, etc. = $125

Q: What if I need to cancel my appointment?

Given that most of our clinicians have growing waitlists and evaluation appointments are typically quite lengthy, we ask that you give us a 1-week notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your initial appointment. After we have met for the initial consultation and an evaluation plan has been created, we will require a $300 retainer fee to hold your evaluation appointment(s). Should you cancel or not show for your testing appointment, you will be charged this fee. We do this in order to protect our clinicians’ time as well as the many families who are waiting for our services.

General Questions

Q: What is counseling like? 
Historically, the media has portrayed counseling as the following scenario: Client lies on the couch, prattling on and on while staring at the ceiling. Therapist sits behind the client with a pen and pad and occasionally nods his head and, even less occasionally, offers a short comment or question. While this scenario might be accurate for some, our clinical staff, and the more typical scenario, offers a 50/50 engagement. This means that you, along with your KSC clinician, collaboratively develop a treatment plan designed just for you. Together, you will work towards goals that make sense, and both you and your clinician are an active part of the therapeutic process. Play and art may even be involved, especially for our younger clients. By keeping your information private and confidential, our clinical staff work together, with you, using a range of evidence based techniques and methods. The first goal of therapy is to form a trusting therapeutic relationship where you feel comfortable to share yourself with your therapist. Once that is established, may the path to wellness unfold.

Q: Who benefits from counseling?
Anyone, as long as the need for help is recognized and the desire for change is present. There is an awful stigma out there that suggests one needs to be “crazy” to seek help. This is simply not true. Most people can benefit from counseling because, truth be told, life is complicated, and, sometimes, having an outside perspective with a trained eye is all you need to reset your course. If something more in depth is needed, we can offer that as well. If, however, your clinician decides after meeting you that a more intensive treatment is in your best interest, your clinician will help connect you with a more appropriate agency.

Q: What is faith sensitive counseling? Do I have to be Christian to seek help at KSC?
Typically, mental healthcare providers are trained to keep faith and spirituality out of the therapy office. We see this differently. We believe that an individual’s faith belief system is just as important as one’s family history, life situation, and even physiological makeup. It is an important part of who you are, and we treat it as such. Our clinicians are specially trained to integrate one’s belief system, whatever system that is, into your care if that is something you choose. While the majority of our staff hold Christian beliefs, we do not push these beliefs onto you. We help all walks of life, no matter your beliefs, and we integrate your beliefs into your care. Our mission is treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit.

Q: What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, etc.?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who primarily treat and help manage your symptoms with medication. They typically do not provide counseling although there may be exceptions.

Psychologists are doctorate level therapists. They spend an average of 5-7 years in graduate education, training, and research before receiving a doctoral degree. As part of their professional training, they must complete a one-year supervised clinical internship in a hospital or organized health setting and at least one year of postdoctoral supervised experience before they can become licensed and practice independently. Typically, they receive specialized training (e.g., psychological testing).

LPC’s, LMFT’s, and LCSW’s are master’s level therapists. They spend an average of 2-3 years in graduate education and training before receiving a master’s degree. As part of their professional training, they must complete 3,000 supervised clinical hours before they can become licensed and practice independently.

Practicum students, interns, and fellows are graduate or post-graduate level counselors-in-training who are unlicensed and working under the direct supervision of a psychologist or board-approved counselor.

Q: How do I know who to choose?
Our trained intake coordinators will ask you questions such as (1) why are you seeking help, (2) have you been to counseling before, (3) are you taking any medication, (4) who will be involved in your sessions, (5) what insurance do you plan to use, (6) where do you live, (7) and when are you able to come. Based on how you answer her questions, she will do her best to find the right match for you.

Keep in mind that no single therapist will work for every person. Research and many therapists suggest a "trying out" period of 2-4 sessions to warm up and to build a therapeutic relationship, just like starting any other relationship. Research shows that the quality of your therapeutic relationship is the most important element for treatment success.

Q: Do you accept insurance?
Yes. We accept most major insurance plans, including but not limited to Aetna, BCBS of Texas, Cigna, Humana, United Healthcare, Tricare, Medicaid, and Medicare. While your plan may have mental or behavioral health coverage, it is important to know the nuances of your plan. Not all plans are alike. Some cover marriage and family counseling whereas others do not. Some have diagnostic exclusions, meaning your plan may not cover your services based on your diagnosis. Some may require pre-authorizations before services may begin. While the healthcare and insurance industries are complex, we will do our best to work with your insurance company; however, you are your best healthcare advocate.

Q: What if I don’t have insurance or my deductible is incredibly high?
That’s okay. Thanks to our generous donors and supporters, we are able to offer our counseling services on a sliding scale. Our sliding scale is benchmarked against the Federal Poverty Level and takes into account your annual income, number of dependents, and any other major expenses such as child support or hospital bills.

Q: What if I need to cancel my appointment?
Unexpected situations arise in your daily life so you can certainly cancel or reschedule appointments but generally with 24-hour advanced notice. In other words, please contact our office 24 hours prior to your appointment time. Once an appointment hour is scheduled, the office will charge a late cancellation fee (usually $50) unless you provide 24 hour advance notice or your clinician and administrative staff both agree that you were unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control. Please keep in mind that you are reserving a space in your clinician’s appointment book, and without advance notice, they are unable to fill this space with someone else in need of their time and attention.

Q: What if I have a mental health emergency?
If you have an emergency (e.g., thoughts of harming yourself or someone else), you have two options. We have a staff clinician who is on call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is reserved only for our current, active clients. Just call our main number (281-480-7554) and press option 1. However, it may take up to 20 minutes for the on-call clinician to return your call. If you need something more immediate or you are not a current client of the Center, then immediately call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or call an emergency hotline (e.g., 1-800-273-TALK). Communication through our website, email, and clinician’s extensions are not to be used for emergency situations. These services are not intended and are not appropriate for such situations, and these services lack the support and immediacy needed for emergency situations.

Q: Are you accredited?
Yes. We are accredited with the Samaritan Institute, (http://www.samaritaninstitute.org), an international organization that oversees the policies and practices of 75+ affiliated centers throughout the United States and Japan. The Samaritan network is one of the largest providers of professional outpatient counseling. All accredited centers must comply with nationally benchmarked behavioral health quality standards, standards that are comparable to JCAHO and CARF.

 


16441 Space Center Blvd. • Suite C-100 • Houston, Texas 77058
info@samaritanhouston.org