Welcome to Northstar TeleConsulting, a private mental health consulting service, conducted by videophone, for clients who are unable to meet with us in our offices where we provide psychotherapeutic services. Our videophone services are either psychoeducational consultations, that may be held one time or a number of times, usually 45 minutes in length; or professional consultations and/or supervision of mental health professionals. We work by prearranged schedule.
We require that videophone consulting services be paid in full in advance, as will be explained in our initial telephone discussion. Each associate makes their own arrangements for pre-payment of sessions. Please note: It is unlikely that clients will be able to use their insurance (which usually requires a diagnosis) in order to get some reimbursement. However, we can provide a statement describing the services we provided. (For example, some health plans may provide some coverage for “ancillary services,” such as evaluating specific needs, and providing information.) We may also be able to work out a “single case agreement” that will allow a client to submit a claim in order to obtain partial reimbursement.
There is no online data entry or record-keeping. HIPPA compliance does not apply, and neither do laws governing interstate “tele-therapy.”
Before videophone sessions can begin, we require clients to sign, and have notarized, a hold-harmless contract acknowledging and accepting the limits of our service.
Clients who wish to utilize videophone consultations with us should first call us to discuss the arrangements in full beforehand. As a time-saving measure, these may include emailing or faxing us a preliminary explanation of the problem, including dates and background information, but omitting names and addresses or other identifying information that would need to be given by telephone.
In our first videophone session we will try to “map out” the issues and concerns, discuss priorities, and determine the specific ways we can be of help. Examples might be:
- adopted people wishing to discuss whether specific problems or concerns may be related to their being adopted, or questions about searching, or whether they need psychotherapy rather than the more limited consultation we offer ‘online’. (In some cases we may discuss the option of the client traveling for a clinical evaluation with us, or for occasional treatment.)
- adoptive parents whose daughter or son is in residential/hospital treatment away from home; we collaborate with therapists in these programs by helping with history-taking and with addressing parents’ concerns, discussing the course of treatment or discharge plans
- clients in rural areas who are unable to arrange suitable ongoing treatment in their location, such as some kinds of concerns of college students with special needs
- individuals who are home-bound/cannot travel and can benefit from intermittent videophone discussions with us
- clients wishing to consult with us around one of our specialties other than adoption, such as parenting, custody litigation, concerns about a family member or friend who seems vulnerable or at-risk (indirect crisis-management)
What is Psychoeducational Consultation?
In a psychoeducational consultation, the client describes in detail the concern or problem that was briefly identified in the initial phone call. The consultant listens carefully and asks specific questions in order to learn the background of the difficulty, as well as inquiring about a variety of issues that may be related to it. The consultant will want to know what things the client has already tried to do in order to solve the problem, and will offer information, suggestions and recommendations as appropriate.
The consultant’s role is supportive and educational. Although the consultant’s skills and knowledge-base derive from a great deal of professional experience in mental health, the discussion with the client does not at any time constitute psychotherapy. If the consultant believes that the client is in need of psychotherapeutic treatment, options for the client will be discussed.
Both the client and the consultant will want to take careful notes about the conversation and about the information shared. The consultant will identify clearly the areas and topics which she/he is, and is not, qualified to discuss. At no time does the consultant give legal or medical advice. However, feedback can be given as to what people in a similar situation have typically experienced, and what solutions have been found to be helpful. The consultant also gives information about what is known in the mental health field about particular aspects of the client’s problem and concerns, or about certain kinds of services, resources, and programs that may be of help to them.
Confidentiality: The client’s name, and all information pertaining to the consultation, are accorded full confidentiality. The consultant will maintain a client record for keeping necessary information and notes about the client, along with copies of any printed material. The record remains private property of the consultant. Nothing the consultant says or does, and nothing in the record, can serve any forensic purpose. If it is decided in a consultation that the consultant can speak with another professional about a specific issue, the client will be asked to provide a signed consent specifying the nature, purpose, and limits of the contact with a third party.
Compensation: Each Northstar associate handles her/his own pre-payment arrangements with each client since the time involved and amount of payment is likely to vary with each situation. Clients wishing to set up a schedule of weekly consultations for several months can pay a preliminary retainer with the understanding that, with sufficient advanced notice, unused funds will be promptly returned.
If clients choose a combination of psychoeducational consultations and occasional in-office clinical appointments, for the latter the associate will try to arrange one or two extended sessions, for which the usual legal parameters and procedures for psychotherapy will apply.