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Frequently Asked Questions

Before Our First Appointment

Before coming into your first session,  we will have connected over the phone or by e-mail. It's important to discuss whether the difficulties you'd like to address are something I can help with. I like to get a sense of how often or how long you might want to come in. We will discuss scheduling, set up an initial appointment and I will send you intake and consent forms explaining how to get to my office. Also, we can discuss how payments are made, whether by medical insurance or privately. Permission to contact your medical doctor, psychiatrist or a child's teacher or school counselor can also be helpful. 

The first session can be regarded as a "getting to know you" session.  The aim is for me to understand what kind of help you need and whether my experience and therapeutic training will be a good fit for you.  I like to allow a bit of extra time for this first session.

Fees will vary depending on the type of service provided and the length of the session requested.  Session length can vary from 50 to 80 minutes, and length of session is best determined collaboratively following the initial evaluation.

I am an in-network provider for Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross/MediCal, and Cal Berkeley's student and faculty Health Insurance Plan (UC/SHIP). For all other health insurance plans, if you have out-of-network insurance benefits you may be eligible for reimbursement for outpatient mental health care.  I can provide you with a statement that includes all of the information needed to obtain reimbursement directly from your insurance company.  You will need to check with your insurer to determine if your policy includes out-of-network benefits. 


Questions to keep in mind when speaking with your insurance company include:

– Do I have out-of-network benefits for outpatient mental health treatment?

– Do I need prior authorization in order to receive reimbursement?

– How much does my plan cover for out-of-network mental health treatment?

– What deductible, out-of-pocket, or co-insurance fees will I be responsible for?

– How many sessions per calendar year does my insurance plan cover?

– How do I obtain reimbursement?  What information must be included on my claims?

I accept credit card payments. Please download the Credit Card Authorization form above.

I have a 24-hour cancellation policy because scheduling an appointment with me reserves that time specifically for you.  Please inform me as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment.  If you miss an appointment or cancel with less than 24 hours notice, you will be billed for the full amount of your session.

I am available by appointment only and I do not provide on call or walk-in services.  Phone and/or video teleconference sessions may be arranged on a case-by-case basis.  Occasional phone calls of less than 10 minutes duration will not be charged.  Should the need arise for frequent phone check-ins of more than 10 minutes duration, you will be charged on a prorated hourly basis.

Teletherapy: available, when appropriate, after a few face-to-face visits


Phone calls are generally returned within 24 hours. If you do not receive a return call please send me an e-mail at:  If you are having a medical emergency, please call 911 or go to a nearby emergency room.


Email may be used for scheduling but it is not a secure form of communication and clinical or sensitive information should not be shared over email.

© 2017 by Deborah Essex, MFT

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