Synergy Psychological Services -
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a psychologist?
Psychologists study the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of behavior, and provide mental health care in hospitals, clinics, schools, and private practices.  A psychologist is uniquely trained to use psychological tests to help with assessment and diagnosis. Psychologists help people to overcome or manage their problems using a variety of treatments or psychotherapies.
How are psychologists trained?
On average, psychologists have five to seven years of training in addition to their Bachelor’s degree.  In West Virginia, licensed psychologists may have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate degree.  Those with a doctorate degree complete one year of supervised practice and those with a Master’s degree complete five years of supervised practice, before taking the national licensing examination.  The minimal passing score is the same for both Doctorate and Master’s level psychologists.  Candidates for licensing must then pass an oral examination conducted by the state licensing board.  Psychologists are further required to take continuing education courses to keep their licenses current and to update their skills.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? 
Psychologists are licensed by the state according to the training guidelines above.  Psychiatrists attend medical school and receive Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Following the completion of their degree, they are then required to complete a post-graduate residency-training program with a specialization in psychiatry. Treatment approaches are often more biologically based.  Psychiatrists are able to prescribe psychotropic medications. PSYCHOLOGISTS DO NOT PRESCRIBE MEDICATION. 
What about confidentiality?
Confidentiality is a critical component of the psychologist-patient relationship. We appreciate your confidence in us and we pledge to provide a safe place for you to discuss your situation. The information you share with your psychologist and all the records regarding your visits with us are held as confidential. Consequently, your written authorization is typically required before we can release any information about you.  However, under certain circumstances, the need to protect you or someone else from harm, or a court order may supersede the need to protect confidentiality. In addition, we have a duty to report any suspicions regarding abuse or neglect of a child or incapacitated adult. Your psychologist can answer any questions you may have about this matter.
How long does a visit last?
That depends on the procedure being completed during your visit.  A psychological evaluation may last from one hour to six hours, although the latter is rare.  Psychotherapy sessions typically last 45-50 minutes and are held weekly.  In some cases, shorter sessions are necessary.  In that case, patients may be seen for 20-25 minute session. Some patients may require treatment more frequently than once a week. This more intensive treatment can be very beneficial but does require a greater financial and time commitment.
How long will I be in therapy? 
Since each person has individual needs, the length of treatment will vary based on the patient’s needs.  The length of a patient’s therapy is not predetermined; rather it is tailored to each patient’s case.
What if I am late?
We make every effort to minimize the wait time of our patients. If you are late, then everyone who has an appointment after you will be made to wait.  In fairness to all our patients, and our staff, we attempt to see patients as close to their scheduled appointment time as possible.  For evaluation appointments, please plan to arrive 15 minutes early to complete the necessary paperwork.  However, if you are more than 15 minutes late, we may not be able to see you.   After you complete the registration paperwork, it will take a few minutes for our staff to process that and we will see you as soon as possible.
What if I have an emergency?
Emergencies are rare events, and as such are of special concern to us. We attempt to respond as promptly as we can. During regular business hours, contact our office.  FOR OUR ESTABLISHED PATIENTS ONLY, a staff member is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We do not provide emergency care for non-patients.   To reach the on call psychologist, follow the instructions on the office answering machine.  If you need immediate assistance, do not wait for us to call you back, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.
What if I need to talk to my psychologist?
We recognize that patients occasionally need to speak directly with their psychologist between sessions. To do so, please call the office and the office staff will let your psychologist know you need to speak to him/her; or the answering system will record your call. We will typically call back within 24 hours. There is a charge for extended telephone calls.
Do you charge for missed sessions? Why do psychologists do this?
Yes, we do. The reason is simple, when we set up a regular appointment with you, we are giving you exclusive access to that time slot, which is not how other professionals work. Physicians usually work with a waiting room filled with people so if one person is late they just see the next person. Other professionals, such as lawyers or accountants, can fill the cancellation time with other billable work such as work on briefs or tax returns.   The only billable work psychologists do is their time seeing patients and the time we schedule with you is exclusively yours, not available for anyone else.  Our office has chosen to use scheduling practices which minimize your wait time.  Your therapy appointment time is reserved exclusively for you and we do not schedule more than one patient at the same time.   This is for your convenience and to allow our staff to devote that time solely to your treatment needs.  It is very important for your mental health care that appointments be kept.  We ask that you contact us at least 24 hours in advance to cancel or reschedule an appointment.  As a fee-for-service provider, we are not reimbursed by insurance companies for missed appointments.   If you miss an appointment, we are not paid for that time and since we do not double book appointments, there is no one to be seen in your place.   You may be charged the usual therapy fee for appointments not kept without 24 hour notice of cancellation.   Charges for missed appointments are not covered by insurance.
Do you bill insurance?
We accept most major insurance plans.  Please call your insurance carrier prior to your visit to determine if our services are covered.  As a courtesy, we may bill your insurance on your behalf. However, your insurance is a contract between you and your insurance carrier.  We are NOT a party to that contract.  We will not become involved in disputes between you and your insurance company regarding deductibles, co-pays, covered charges, secondary insurance, etc.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT OF YOUR ACCOUNT.  Since coverage varies with each insurance carrier and plan, we can only approximate the amount your insurance will pay. Payment of the estimated uncovered portion is due at the time of service.  You are responsible for any charges not covered by insurance.  If you would like to file your own insurance claim will provide you with the necessary documentation.  Deductibles and co-pays are your responsibility.  We are not permitted to reduce, deduct, or waive these portions of your payment responsibility. After 60 days, the full unpaid balance of your bill becomes YOUR RESPONSIBILITY and due upon receipt.  Accounts that are not paid within 90 days may be referred to a COLLECTION AGENCY.  Payment is due at the time of service.
Do you accept checks/credit cards?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.  Payment may be made by check. All transactions are verified through TeleCheck. There is a $25.00 fee for returned checks.
What are your fees?
Please contact our office for our current fee schedule.
Do you provide court testimony?
As a general rule, we do not become involved in legal matters. However, if it is required for us to do so, the charge is $250.00 per hour for record review, report writing, preparation, travel (plus expenses), waiting time, deposition, or testimony.  A payment of 50% of the estimated cost will be requested in advance of the court date.
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