We have provided our office policies below so that you have a chance to review them and take them into consideration while you are a client of LA Therapy Network. If you have any questions about anything, please speak to your therapist right away.
Your Commitment to a Healthier, Happier You
Therapy must be a priority for you in order for it to work. It has to come first in your life. In order for it to be a successful undertaking for you, you have to be willing to commit yourself to the process completely. With that said, you can expect to have painful moments during your treatment. Some sessions may be difficult to deal with. You may have conflicts with your therapist and you will relate to your therapist the same way you relate to others in your life. Things that you find dissatisfying in others are bound to come up in your relationship with your therapist as well. Truthfully, if they don’t, you may not be getting everything out of therapy that you should be. In order to work through interpersonal issues, you have to be committed to making your therapy work. This means that you will have to discuss your feelings about therapy with your therapist, communicate dissatisfaction with therapy if it arises, discuss conflicts or hurt feelings with your therapist when you feel the therapist has done something that upset you, etc. This is a different interaction than working with a doctor or other healthcare provider, because therapy is about relating. Therefore, you relate with the therapist as well as in this relationship, your interpersonal issues will come up in therapy. This is important. So, in order for you to get everything out of therapy, you have to make the commitment to the whole process of therapy, including sticking it out even when you don’t feel like it or you are upset with your therapist.
Choosing a Therapist
This is also why it is so important to choose your therapist carefully, because you are committing to the whole process. You are committing yourself to the therapeutic relationship with the goal that making changes in this relationship will positively benefit all of your life relationships in the present and in the future. It is a learning process and working in therapy gives you the chance to practice with someone whose focus is just on you. It is the most unique relationship you will ever have in your life because it is more about you and you alone than it is about you and the therapist together, but at the same time it is also about your relationship with the therapist too.
Therapy is all about trust. If you stop trusting your therapist, talk about it right away. Communicating about how you feel towards therapy and your therapist is KEY in therapy!
Commit to the process of being uncomfortable and not knowing. Therapy is all about going into unknown territory and exploring the secrets hidden in the closet. Be aware that you may have problems in your life temporarily while going through the process of therapy. Use what you learn and commit to applying it in your life. Your therapist will teach you new skills to help you. Tell your therapist about the things you want to hide. Here’s a rule of thumb – if you really don’t want to tell your therapist something that is the very thing you and your therapist should be talking about! Take the risk and bring it out.
If you decide that you do not want to continue therapy, don’t just stop coming. Go through the process of termination. It is important! Saying goodbye and going through a closure process is important.
Lastly, and most importantly, in a commitment to therapy, you are making a commitment to change. If you have a history of suicide attempts, aggression towards others, or other dangerous behaviors, you must commit to not doing these things while in therapy. Therapy is about learning alternative ways to handle these feelings and impulses. If you continue acting out in dangerous ways, we cannot safely work with you and will need to refer you. Otherwise we are only acting as a part of the problem for you and this will be harmful to you, not helpful.
Therapy is not easy. This is important to understand up front. You will feel it is helping you usually, but there will be times when you doubt it, because therapy takes time. Problems do not arise overnight. They come up over time. Therefore, problems will not be resolved overnight either. That is why therapy takes time. Commit yourself to the whole process and to taking the time required of you to make the changes in your life that you seek.
A professional consultation is an important component of a healthy psychotherapy practice. As such, therapists regularly participate in clinical, ethical and legal consultations with appropriate, qualified professionals. For example, your therapist might bring your case up during peer group Case Consultation Meetings, with another clinician, or a recognized clinical expert in the community who specializes in working with similar issues you are struggling with. During such consultations, she will not reveal any personally identifying information about you unless they are other clinicians within LA Therapy Network. Clinicians who are a part of LA Therapy Network do discuss cases and share identifying information as this helps if you work with other clinicians here at some point in your treatment. Many of our clients attend therapy groups, participate in couples or family therapy, or do alternative forms of treatment with other LATN therapists – so sharing identifying information is important to providing you with the best care possible. We are committed to giving you the best services available!
Records and Record Keeping
Any records produced or contained in your therapy file are the sole property of the LATN. These records constitute our clinical and business records, which by law, therapists are required to maintain. We will not alter our normal record keeping process. Should you request a copy of these records, please submit your request in writing. We reserve the right, under California law, to provide you with a treatment summary instead of the actual progress notes. The progress notes are the therapist’s private notes, which we may not share with clients. This is up to the individual therapist’s discretion. We also reserve the right to refuse to produce a copy of the record if your therapist believes that doing so will be harmful to your care and treatment. Usually your therapist will not refuse you access to any of your healthcare file contents but protecting your therapy and overall well-being is our priority. Therapists are legally required to maintain patient records for 10 years following the termination of treatment; for children we are required to keep the copies for either 10 years or until the child’s 21st birthday, whichever is longer. After this time, your records may be destroyed in a manner that preserves your confidentiality.
Creative drawings, writings, etc. are kept in the file. If you would like a copy of your work one can be provided to you during the session or afterwards. Once the session is over, the creative works become a part of the clinical record and will not be returned to you.
LA Therapy Network offers emergency services. If you need to meet with your therapist after hours, during times that she does not usually work or if the therapist has to cancel other clients to help you during an emergency, you will be charged the appropriate higher rate for emergency services. The fee for emergency services is time and a half for after hour services, Monday through Saturdays; Sunday appointments are double your fee unless that is your usual appointment day. Emergency services are available in emergencies, such as a rape crisis, serious fight with your partner or spouse that involved violence or is threatening to end the relationship, you were a victim of a violent crime, you need to be hospitalized for a serious psychiatric emergency, etc. If you are having a crisis and can wait to be seen during our usual business hours and it doesn’t disrupt another client’s session, you will be charged your regular rate.
NOTE: If you are feeling suicidal or in need of psychiatric hospitalization and you know you can’t wait to see your therapist at your usual time, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. There is little we can do at this time. Therapy is meant to be a way to help you learn coping skills and the assumption is you want to do therapy because you want a better life. If you want to take your life, it is a disruption to your therapy goals. We don’t want to reinforce this by giving you extra attention. Please talk about this more with your therapist to create a plan that would be right for you and your treatment. We are sensitive to your needs but want to make sure we aren’t reinforcing self-destructive behaviors.
Professional Boundaries of the Therapy Relationship
The relationship of therapy is a business relationship. It is a highly intimate relationship in which strong feelings of caring and connection are formed between you and the therapist. Because of this, professional boundaries must be adhered to for both you and your therapist’s safety.
The Therapy Hour: When we contract for business, you are paying for the therapist’s time and service. Therefore, if you do not come to your appointment, you are responsible for payment for your therapy time. The therapy hour is your time. It starts at a specific time and ends at a specific time. You cannot stay longer or come late and expect for your therapist to accommodate the appointment because it will interfere in other people’s appointments and is a therapeutic boundary. If for some reason your therapist starts late she will ensure you receive the full 50 mins. Sometimes therapists have to start late for a variety of reasons. Please understand we will do everything we can to start your session on time. You will NOT be charged if the therapist has to cancel.
Advice: Therapy is a process of exploration. It is unethical for a therapist to give you advice about what to do in your life. Therapy is about helping you come up with your own solutions. Practical suggestions about coping skills or referrals are provided in therapy.
Gifts: Gift giving and receiving in therapy is discouraged overall. There are exceptions to this but in general, it is considered unethical for a therapist to accept gifts from a client.
Bringing Friends and Family: If you want to bring another person to your therapy session, it is better that it is discussed ahead of time. Please do not bring another person with you to therapy without discussing it with your therapist first. Clients often want their friends and family to meet their therapist. They may want to share the experience or have the therapist see their friends or other family members. But, this can interfere in your own therapy process without you knowing it or realizing it initially. Therefore, it is important that this is discussed before it happens.
Bringing Your Children: If you have children, please do not bring your child unless we have agreed to have them in your therapy session. This is for therapeutic reasons for both you and your child.
Parents: If you are sending your child to therapy, your therapist will require your participation in therapy if she deems it appropriate. We may also require you to make adjustments in your management of child rearing in order to assist your child. Often we find that in order to help a child, we need to work with an entire family. This is important for you to know up front.
Parents Paying for Therapy of a Child: By law, you have the right to know what treatment the therapist is providing to your child and what is happening in your child’s therapy. However, this law can impair your child’s treatment, therefore, the therapist will ask a parent to respect your child’s confidentiality. Sometimes children need to feel that they can tell something to their therapist that won’t be told back to their parents and this is the only way that therapy will be successful. Know that if there is something that is happening in your child’s life that is dangerous, your therapist will inform you. Safety is always a priority.
Bartering for Services: The only form of payment for services can be monetary. It is illegal for a therapist to accept payment for therapy with professional or personal services. Also, a therapist is not allowed to accept any professional or personal services from clients.
Problems Paying for Therapy: If for some reason you are unable to pay for therapy, please let your therapist know ahead of time so arrangements can be made.
Phone Services: LATN therapists have a confidential message line that you can call at anytime. Your therapist will try to get back with you within 24 hours; however, we cannot guarantee this. For appointment changes or minor communications, you can text the therapists. We charge if a call lasts over 20 minutes. The charge is based upon your fee and is rounded to the nearest 15 minutes. 323-829-3548
Healthcare Providers: If you are seeing a psychiatrist or other medical provider, please let your therapist know. Also, please do not stop taking psychiatric medication without talking with your doctor and your therapist.
Medical Conditions: Please let us know if you have any medical conditions. It is important to your therapy.
Referrals: If we give you a referral, know that we are giving you a referral to a person or business that we think is good and may help you. You may not have this experience of the referral. Please let your therapist know you are dissatisfied with a referral for any reason so that we can be sure we are providing referrals that our clients get good services from. We can’t be held responsible for problems encountered with other professionals.
Home Office: If we are seeing you at the home office understand that we use a home office to help keep the costs of the business down, so that we can offer more affordable therapy. In order to do this, we have to have some boundaries for this office space:
— There is no waiting room, but there is a waiting area in the front of the house on the bench. Please do not bring anyone else with you because there is no place for them to wait for you. If people drive you to your appointment, they will have to wait outside. We can also recommend a nice coffee shop for them to go while you are in therapy if necessary. Please do not sit at the bottom of the stairs. Respect other’s confidentiality.
— There is a restroom at all of the offices, but please use the restroom before coming to therapy if you can. Having to use the restroom during therapy is very disruptive to your therapy time. In the home office, knock on the door and then enter to use the restroom. In the office buildings there is a key for the building’s bathroom in the waiting area.
— Please do not come to the office when it is not your therapy time. Please respect other people’s sessions and the home owner’s privacy.
— Please don’t try to see other parts of the home. Please don’t go to the backyard or look in through the windows. Again, this is to preserve our business relationship and to respect the owner’s personal life and boundaries.
Therapy Equipment: Please don’t take items from the therapy office unless given to you by the therapist.
Touching: Physical boundaries are important. Therapy does not include ANY sexualized physical contact, for safety reasons. If you want a hug, please ask for it. Handshakes are fine. Your therapist may put her hand on your shoulder, but your therapist will ask your permission first. This is to keep you feeling safe in the relationship. Some of the therapists here utilize touch in the therapy sessions. These therapists are specially trained in therapies that include touch and will always ask your permission before using any form of touch. It will NEVER include any sexualized touch.
Therapy Never Includes Sex: This is a HUGE issue. Sex with a therapist is a very serious violation of your trust as a client and California law. Therapists are in a very unique and sensitive role. Feeling attracted to your therapist is normal and healthy. Your therapist acting on this attraction is illegal and exploitive. If you have had sex with your therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist please ask for the brochure, “Therapy Never Includes Sex,” which explains what your legal rights are. http://www.bbs.ca.gov/pdf/publications/proftherapy.pdf
Personal Relationships: Therapists cannot have any kind of social relationship with you. We cannot go out to lunch with you, to the movies, etc. It is a violation of our professional ethics. According to the law, a therapist may not spend time with a client as a friend for a minimum of 2 years after the termination of therapy. Typically we won’t have a social relationship with you even after 2 years because therapy relationships tend to remain therapy relationships even after a 2 year time span.
Suicide/Harming Others: We expect all clients to agree to NOT harm themselves or others while in therapy. You are coming to therapy for help. Attempting suicide or hurting someone else sets up a dangerous dynamic between a therapist and client, and this will prevent therapy from continuing if this dynamic gets set up. It is too dangerous for you. It is important for you to know what to do for yourself if you feel suicidal/homicidal. Your therapist will help you with these skills if necessary, but as an agreement of therapy, you in turn are committing to keep yourself and others safe and doing what is necessary for safety. Self-harming behaviors such as cutting, burning, head banging, etc., will be worked with in therapy. We don’t expect you to stop them right away; however, you are agreeing to learn new skills and tools to use instead of self-harm. It is a therapy interfering behavior that gets in the way of your healing.
Chemical Use: You must come to therapy sober. You cannot come to therapy after using drugs or alcohol. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, we will require you to agree not to use any kind of drug or alcohol a minimum of 24 hours before your therapy appointment. If you violate this, we will not see you for that session, but you will still be responsible for payment of the hour.
Legal or Medical/Psychiatric Advice: We cannot give you legal, medical or psychiatric advice. Please speak to an attorney for legal advice or an appropriate healthcare professional for medical issues.
Testifying in Court: Our therapists will not testify in court unless court ordered to do so. If you need a therapist for court purposes, there are therapists whose job it is to act as an expert witness on behalf of clients. These therapists can be provided through your attorney. They are known as Expert Witnesses. It is an ethical conflict for us to testify in court for you.
Court Referrals: We cannot provide information to the court. If you are mandated by the courts for therapeutic treatment, you must use the court recommended programs. Independent therapists cannot provide these services.
No Secrets Policy: In family or couples therapy, we always have a “No Secrets” Policy. That means that whatever is said by one member in therapy, all members need to be made aware of the information. The exception to this is if there are things that are happening that impact someone’s safety. Child abuse, domestic violence and other violence in a relationship cannot be treated jointly, for safety reasons.
Letters: Typically therapists cannot write letters on your behalf. There are some exceptions we can make, such as letters for SRS surgeries and other letters but typically we can’t do this. It’s an ethical and liability issue for us.
Safety Rules: Please do not bring any weapons to therapy, even if they are a part of your business uniform. If you become very angry, you can take a timeout in therapy. Talk about your anger, take deep breaths. Verbal abuse won’t be tolerated, use “I feel” statements instead. Your therapist can teach you this technique. Intimidating or aggressive behavior won’t be tolerated towards the therapist or another person in therapy.
In sessions where there is two or more people, if we are concerned that a session is becoming too heated, your therapist may ask one party to leave the therapy room to cool off. We expect compliance with this for safety reasons. If this rule is not adhered to, your therapist may be unable to continue to work with you.
You may not deliberately break things or throw things in the therapy room. No form of aggressive behavior will be tolerated. Instead, talk about your concerns and feelings. If you become unsafe, your therapist will contact a hospital or police. Verbal threats of any kind will be reported to the police. If you threaten the therapist or another person, it is your therapist’s legal obligation to inform them and the police. This also goes for any business establishment. If you are feeling suicidal, please tell your therapist at the beginning of the therapy session. Acting on suicidal feelings can result in the termination of the therapeutic relationship. We can always work with your feelings, but the behavior itself will harm the therapeutic relationship.
Time Away: If you are going on vacation or need time away from your treatment and know you will miss a session or two, please inform your therapist at least two weeks in advance so you won’t be charged for the missed appointment(s).
Sick: If you are sick or seriously injured, please do not come to therapy. You won’t be charged for the missed session.
Scheduling and Rescheduling Appointments: If you would like to schedule an appointment with your therapist, please contact your therapist at their number on his/her business card. You can also call (323) 829-3548 for Cindie OR if you can’t find your therapist’s number. If you are unable to make an appointment for any reason, please contact your therapist within at least 24 hours in advance if possible – out of courtesy and so that if another client has an emergency we can put them in an open slot.
***We will need to reschedule your appointment for another time during the same week (7 days) otherwise you will be charged for the missed appointment. You are paying for the time as well as the services, and unlike healthcare providers, therapists have limited amounts of time slots to see clients since we book by the hour.
If you miss an appointment without calling, you will be charged, even if you decide not to return to therapy. If there is an emergency, please let us know right away and we can work something out. If you are late to a therapy appointment, we will not be unable to provide you with additional time, as this will interfere in another client’s therapy time. It is also a violation of our professional boundaries. We cannot run sessions overtime for ethical reasons. We may do this on occasion but will always tell you when the session time is up and offer you the additional time. This is only on rare occasions if it is needed. If you need additional time usually, a longer appointment time can be arranged with your therapist.
Payment for Services: Payment for therapy is done at the beginning of the therapy session if paying by cash or check.
Therapy Partner: We utilize a billing service, Therapy Partner, which enables us to accept multiple forms of payment: Visa, MasterCard, Discover (credit or debit cards), checks, money orders and cash. It also enables us to set up a payment plan so you can afford therapy even if you cannot afford the full fee. Please speak to your therapist about this service.
If you pay by check, LATN will charge you the bank’s fees for returned checks. Please know that a charge from LATN will come up on your account as “Therapy Partner” or similar. If you reverse a credit/debit card charge, Therapy Partner charges LATN a $30 fee which we will expect you to pay.
If you have a change of income, please let us know right away so we adjust your fee if needed.
As the economy changes and inflation increases, we sometimes are required to raise the service fees. If this happens, we will inform you 30 days before the fee increase. We will provide you the information in writing. That should give you plenty of time to make adjustments in your budget if necessary. We do not charge a fee for referrals. We do not typically charge for brief phone contacts, unless you require a phone session. Phone calls over 20 minutes will incur your usual fee adjusted by the hour in 15 minute increments. So if we spend 25-40 minutes you will be required to pay half of your fee, if we spend over 40 minutes on a call, you will be charged your regular therapy hour fee and then adjusted by 15 minute increments thereafter.
Insurance: LA Therapy Network does not accept insurance. We feel that providing a fee-for-service service is in the best interest of our clients for numerous reasons, both for the integrity of your therapy and for your protection. We will provide you with a Superbill if you want to use it to obtain partial reimbursement from your PPO insurance. Please let us know that you plan on submitting it for reimbursement as we do not typically add your diagnosis to the Superbill as a protection for your privacy. We will need to add a diagnostic code to the Superbill if you plan on submitting it for partial reimbursement. Please check with your insurance carrier for more information.
California Victim’s Compensation Fund: We DO accept Victims of Crime for payment of therapy services. If for some reason your claim to California’s VOC program is denied, you will be responsible for the repayment of therapy services provided.
Negotiable Fees: We will negotiate the fee with you if you need this due to financial hardship. We understand that therapy can be expensive and we do not want money to be an obstacle for obtaining quality therapy. However this is a limit to how low we are able to afford to negotiate. We are NOT a low-fee clinic. Negotiated fees are for people who need the lower fee due to financial hardship. If you can afford the regular fee please pay it; it enables us to offer people who really need our help but who can’t afford it to be able to see us. It is vital people pay what they can actually afford. You pay what you think your therapy is worth. If you pay the full fee you are more likely to get more out of therapy than if you try to get a bargain. Bargained fees devalue your therapy and limits our ability to help others in need. We do have clients who are severe trauma survivors and cannot work because of their traumas. We try to accommodate them because we have the experience needed to help them where they are unlikely to receive the help they actually need in community mental health clinics. Your fee helps us help them so please pay the asking fee if you can afford it!
Premature Termination of Services: If you decide to terminate therapy and do not inform your therapist within 5 days of your next scheduled appointment time, you will be charged for the missed appointment.
Balance after Terminating Therapy: If for some reason you have a balance at LATN after terminating therapy and do not pay, we do utilize the services of a collection agency and will pursue balances owed, even if it is only a small fee. We will do everything we can to work with you first, however. PLEASE pay balances that you owe and COMMUNICATE if you are having trouble paying it. We will always work with you if you try to work with us!
Phone and Video Chat Therapy: We offer E-Therapy and phone therapy when appropriate. We utilize Skype or other computer video programs to conduct Video Chat Therapy. We cannot ensure your confidentiality with this type of therapy. Any communication via phone, text messaging, email, or video chat is NOT secure. They can be hacked into. We will do everything we can to ensure your confidentiality as best we can, but we can’t control the unlikely event that someone hacks into these modes of communication.
Termination of Therapy: Ideally therapy is terminated when you have completed the goals you have set in therapy. The reasons you first come to therapy typically dictate the goals you are seeking to accomplish. Additional therapy goals also arise during the normal course of therapy, which is important to consider when deciding on terminating a therapy relationship. It is important to terminate therapy through a termination process. When the decision to terminate therapy is made, your therapist will schedule at least one termination session to review the work done in therapy and to be able to end the relationship constructively. You form an important relationship with a therapist which is sacred and meaningful. Ending that relationship suddenly or without bringing closure to the work done in therapy is not recommended. It is extremely important to wrap up the work we have done together and review the progress you made. However, you always have the right to terminate therapy at anytime for any reason.
We reserve the right to terminate your therapy services at the therapist’s discretion as well. Reasons why a therapist might terminate therapy include, but are not limited to, untimely payment of fees, failure to comply with treatment recommendations, conflicts of interest, failure to participate in therapy, your needs are outside our Scope of Practice or competence as a therapist. Your therapist will usually recommend meeting for a final session if one or both of us decide to terminate the therapy relationship. This final session is intended to facilitate a positive termination experience and to give both parties an opportunity to reflect on the work that has been done in treatment.
IMPORTANT: Sometimes people, for whatever reason, decide to quit therapy and simply do not show up for their session. You will be charged for that session! Part of the documents you sign also indicate this. If you do not pay for the missed session, LA Therapy Network reserves the right to refer unpaid balances to a collection agency or utilize other means to collect unpaid fees. Please just inform us if you decide to suddenly terminate therapy.
Please know that you are always welcome to return to therapy for a “tune-up” or if new problems arise and you would like to seek support for the new situations. We have an “open-door” policy. Even if you have had problems paying in the past, you are welcome to return unless there is some reason the therapist has determined otherwise. You will be required to pay the remaining balance if you return or make payment arrangements with the therapist.