Choose your actions, not your feelings

Again and again in therapy I find myself emphasizing the distinction between feeling an emotion and acting on it. Many patients, and non-patients too, take undue responsibility for their emotions, as though feelings were volitional behaviors, the result of a choice. Often there is a stated or implied should: “I should feel this, not that.” […]

Credulity

As we grow into adulthood, each of us develops a personal comfort zone located on the continuum between paranoia and gullibility. A few of us are highly suspicious by nature, a few are unwitting dupes; most of us are in between. Mental health professionals are no exception, and it shows in our work. Is a […]

Hiring the one-armed surgeon

Two of the most commented posts on my blog are about charging patients for missed sessions and how psychotherapies end. As there is no single correct approach to either of these, there’s plenty of room for practices legitimately to vary, and plenty of room for patients, i.e., most of my commenters, to express their likes […]

Living between three and seven

Despite my mostly psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy, I sometimes include cognitive interventions as well. I think of this as choosing from a variety of tools to suit the moment. Generally speaking, cognitive techniques (and psychiatric medications) aim for symptom relief, while psychodynamic work aims for structural personality change, with symptom improvement as a byproduct. There’s […]

My goal as a therapist: to make myself obsolete

Traditional psychodynamic therapy is often caricatured as endless, with a complacent therapist silently growing cobwebs, listening to a patient who never plans to leave. This isn’t completely unfounded: there are therapeutic advantages to losing track of time, “swimming in the material,” and letting one’s therapeutic focus be broad. The patient’s chief complaint, i.e., the […]

Do patients avoid psychiatrists for fear of legal holds?

Over on the Shrink Rap blog I got caught up in an off-topic debate. The post was on why psychiatrists avoid insurance panels, something I’ve written about myself. But the commentary wandered into exorbitant fees, inadequate mental health services for the poor, income disparity between psychiatrists and patients, a generation that expects something for nothing, […]

Third-party payment for psychotherapy: (2) Medical necessity

In my last post I outlined some complexities of third party payment for office psychiatry, and especially for psychotherapy. As my example I used Medicare, the only third party payer I bill. Some of the problems include complex billing (i.e., collecting from multiple parties), partial reimbursement, unrealistic documentation requirements, loss of patient confidentiality, and a […]