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General Policies

Overview

These general policies below serve as a guide for both our patients and providers to establish mutual understanding and a positive therapeutic relationship. We believe that clear policies are essential in maintaining a respectful and productive therapeutic journey. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our policies, as they help us create a collaborative and effective experience for all. If you have any questions or require further clarification, our team is here to assist you.

Other policies not listed below can be found on the following pages: 

Appointments

All intake paperwork must be completed at least 24 hours prior to your first appointment. You will complete the paperwork electronically in our secure patient portal. If your paperwork is not completed at least 24 hours prior to your first appointment, your appointment will have to be postponed. Legal requirements mandate that we obtain your signatures on some forms prior to the onset of treatment, and your provider needs time to review this information in advance.

All patients must be fully clothed, alert, and not intoxicated when attending appointments. If your provider has reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they have the right to cancel the session and reschedule for a more appropriate time.

Please provide your full attention during your appointment. If you are not able to provide adequate attention, your provider reserves the right to reschedule your appointment. For example, it is not appropriate to have your telehealth appointment while you are driving or completing other tasks. Ensuring your safety and well-being is our top priority. It is essential to create a dedicated and focused environment where you can fully engage in the treatment process. By eliminating distractions and potential hazards, you can maximize the benefits of your sessions and enhance the quality of your experience.  

If you are late to your appointment, you are voluntarily losing some of your session time that will not be made up (your session will still end at the time it was scheduled to end). This is because your provider will likely have another appointment following your appointment. We strive to provide each patient with the full duration of their session, and unfortunately, we cannot extend the session beyond its scheduled time if you arrive late. We encourage you to arrive on time to make the most of your session and ensure that you have ample time to address your needs. Your punctuality will help us maintain an efficient schedule and provide the highest level of care to all our patients. 

All patients are responsible for informing their provider of any other in-person or electronic interactions (whether past or present) regarding their mental health and wellness care with any other professionals. Understanding your history of treatment or co-occurring treatment is critical.

If receiving therapy services, therapy is most effective when sessions occur weekly, although this can be decided between you and your therapist. Your therapist will likely schedule your appointments for several weeks out at a time to ensure the mutually agreed-upon day and time can be held as a standing appointment slot for you each week. At some point after your initial treatment goals have been completed, it’s possible that you and your therapist may decide to gradually reduce the frequency of your appointments. Your therapist will work closely with you to assess your progress, discuss your goals, and determine the most appropriate course of action for your continued growth and well-being. 

If receiving medication services, it is critical to understand that payment for and completion of an appointment with a prescribing provider is not a guarantee of a prescription. Prescriptions are provided ONLY under appropriate clinical conditions determined by your prescribing provider.

Prescriptions will NOT be ordered or refilled following a missed appointment.

Prescriptions or refills may only be issued DURING an appointment with your provider. If you miss an appointment and need a refill, you will need to see your prescribing provider for an appointment prior to a refill being sent to your pharmacy. Therefore, it is imperative to attend all scheduled appointments and adhere to the recommended follow-up schedule to ensure the ongoing assessment of your mental health status, evaluate the effectiveness of the prescribed medication, and address any emerging concerns. You are strongly encouraged to have your pill bottles available at each medication appointment to ensure that you have enough medication.

Your active participation in the treatment process, including regular attendance and communication with your provider, is crucial for maintaining the highest standard of care and promoting your overall well-being.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES:

– To present on time for all scheduled appointments.
– To give your provider any information relevant to your care.
– To notify your provider if or when there are concerns about your treatment plan.
– To notify your provider of any medication changes, including over the counter medication, medications prescribed for you by other healthcare professionals, and supplements.
– To ask your provider any questions you may have about your care so that you can better understand your care and your role in it.
– To follow your treatment plan and instructions for your care, once your treatment plan has been agreed upon by you and your provider.
– To ensure your medication refill requests are made DURING appointments.
– To act in a mutually respectful manner with all representatives of River Oaks Psychology.

Emails and Text Messages

Email and texting are not 100% secure. If you voluntarily choose to communicate with your provider via emailing or texting, you are agreeing to take the following risks:

  • Misdelivery of emails or text messages to an incorrectly typed email address or phone number.
  • Email accounts and phones can be ‘hacked’, giving a third party access to your conversations.
  • Email providers/servers (Gmail, Comcast, Yahoo, etc.) or phone providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) may keep records of email or text conversation which might be accessible to their employees.
  • Your electronic devices may be lost or stolen and email/text messages may be read.
  • Other potential risks not listed here.

For these reasons, we will not use email or text messages to discuss any clinical issues or to provide any of our thoughts, insight, or perspectives on any clinical subjects related to your treatment. It’s very important that all subject material related to your therapeutic process remains reserved for your scheduled sessions.

If you initiate your desire/preference to use email or text messages with us for non-clinical matters, such as rescheduling an appointment without discussing any other clinical matters, we are happy to accommodate your request. However, by engaging in communication via email or text, you are acknowledging and accepting the risks involved and you understand that River Oaks Psychology cannot guarantee confidentiality nor will we be held liable for any breaches of confidentiality due to email or text communications. 

To ensure secure and HIPAA-compliant communication, we encourage you to use the SimplePractice messaging system. This messaging system is specifically designed to facilitate secure and private communication between you and your provider. Rest assured that our SimplePractice messaging system is encrypted and protected. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of security and privacy to ensure your peace of mind throughout your journey.

Mobile Phone Calls

Mobile phone calls are not 100% secure. HIPAA acknowledges only land-line phones hard wired from handset to wall employed by both parties as secure. If you engage with us via mobile phone calls, you are acknowledging and accepting the risks involved and you understand that River Oaks Psychology cannot guarantee confidentiality nor will we be held liable for any breaches of confidentiality due to mobile phone calls.

Conversations outside of scheduled appointments lasting longer than 10 minutes will be considered a phone session and will be charged as session time (either partial fee or full fee depending on call length). You may have a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible due on this phone session. Learn more about payment processes

To ensure the utmost confidentiality and protection of your personal information, we recommend only using the SimplePractice video platform for communication with your provider at your scheduled appointment times. The SimplePractice video platform is a secure and HIPAA-compliant system specifically designed for telehealth sessions. It offers end-to-end encryption and provides a safe environment for you to engage in discussions with your provider.

Feedback During Treatment

All patients are encouraged to provide feedback to their provider during the treatment process. Please openly share any modifications to treatment that you desire and remember it’s possible that you may at times disagree with interpretations from your therapist / provider. When this occurs, your ability to express yourself honestly and/or correct the provider’s interpretation is important. If you feel uncomfortable disagreeing with your provider, that may be a sign that something in the relationship isn’t as it should be and voicing your discomfort can help bring you back to an open, trusting dynamic.

Feedback during treatment is always encouraged because it does not serve you well to be passive or agreeable in treatment while harboring unexpressed thoughts or feelings. Bringing up a conflict between you and your provider offers an opportunity to work through differences, which can be therapeutic in itself. A therapy session may even be the best place to practice skills for confrontation, assertiveness, or healthy communication. It’s a safe setting for you to voice disagreement and clearly state your needs, leaving you better prepared to do so in the world outside of your therapy sessions.

Discharge Planning (Ending Treatment)

Ending treatment can be difficult and uplifting at the same time. While saying goodbye may not be easy, the celebration of personal growth and progress is often very empowering.

After treatment has concluded, patients cannot remain connected to a provider as a friend, partner, pseudo-family member, or any other type of non-clinical role. Dual relationships are not permitted for legal and ethical reasons. Providers are not able to continue supporting a patient after treatment has ended. In some cases, you may be able to initiate contact for further treatment in the future. This depends solely on your provider and their availability for future needs. Please discuss this with your provider if you have questions about what is and is not allowed.

Given the limitations of post-treatment contact, we recognize that discharging from treatment may elicit painful feelings and saying goodbye is usually not an easy process. Therefore, we propose that all patients and providers collaboratively plan for a smooth discharge process once treatment goals are completed to achieve some closure. The appropriate length of the ending-treatment process parallels the length and intensity of the time spent together.

All patients have the right to discontinue treatment at any time – regardless of whether treatment goals are completed – without penalty, punishment, or judgment. While all patients have the right to discontinue services at any time, it is in your best interest to have a closing session to experience an appropriate closure to the experience. Although not required, a closing session creates an opportunity to discuss progress made during treatment and any next steps or recommendations for your continued wellness. Most patients also benefit tremendously from a closing session because it provides them with an opportunity to say goodbye to their provider.

If a patient chooses to discontinue treatment but for any reason has a balance owed on their account, the patient is still required to pay the balance. Learn more about payment processes

We reserve the right to terminate or suspend treatment if services are not effective for you or if you are in default on payment. We will never terminate the therapeutic relationship without first discussing and exploring the reasons and purpose of termination. If you request or would benefit from other treatment, we will provide you with a list of options. You may also choose another option on your own or from another referral source.

In the event that the relationship has terminated due to your provider discontinuing work with River Oaks Psychology – or due to the provider’s illness, death, or any other form of incapacity – we will arrange for your continued care with another provider at River Oaks Psychology or provide you with appropriate referral options.

Case Closures and Absences

We do not issue “case closure” letters but please be aware that your case is closed if you and your provider have any communication about discontinuing treatment. For example, if you tell your provider that you would like to stop services, your case will be closed. In addition, if you discontinue contact with River Oaks Psychology and we are unable to reach you, you might receive an email from your provider indicating that your case is closed. Regardless of the reason for discontinuing treatment, if there is any communication about treatment stopping, your case is closed.

However, if there is no communication between you and your provider on either side about stopping treatment, we cannot leave cases open indefinitely for legal and ethical reasons. Therefore, if no communications occurs for 3 consecutive months, we will consider the professional relationship discontinued and your case with River Oaks Psychology will be closed. Again, we do not issue “case closure” letters but please be aware that your case is closed if you fail to have communication with your provider for 3 consecutive months. If you would like to return to treatment at a later time after your case has been closed, you will need to complete the initial paperwork process in the same way as if you were a new patient. 

Please note that if you decide to have a temporary absence from services for a period of time longer than 2 weeks but less than 3 months, your case may remain open. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to schedule appointments at the same weekly time that you initially had been scheduled. When patients take absences from treatment, providers are obligated to fill their calendars with other patients seeking treatment. In some cases and with careful planning, it may be possible for you to arrange an absence in advance with your providers and still be given your regular time slot, but this is dependent upon availability and circumstances. We do our best to accommodate patients who take absences and then return, but sometimes the patient may need to be scheduled with a different provider or be put on a waitlist if any unavoidable scheduling conflicts occur. Please discuss all options with your provider.

Social Media

We encourage patients and other community members to follow the social media accounts for River Oaks Psychology, but we do not accept “friend requests” or contact requests of any kind from current or former patients on any social networking websites. This is due to confidentiality and the importance of minimizing dual relationships. Adding patients as friends or contacts on social media sites can compromise your confidentiality and your privacy. It may also blur the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. For these reasons and more, we kindly ask that you do not attempt to “friend request” us on social media.

Let us know what questions you have!  We are here for YOU.