About Therapy

How can therapy help me?

Several benefits are to be gained from participating in therapy. A good therapist provides support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals, and your values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communication and listening skills
  • Eliminating old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, redirect damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.) or struggling to handle stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues, such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts, and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much-needed encouragement and help with skills to navigate through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or meet new or higher goals. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are those who are ready to meet challenges in their lives and ready to move toward change.

What is therapy like?

Because everyone has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different for each individual. In general, you can expect to discuss what is currently happening in your life, relate your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short term for a specific issue, or longer term to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you implement in your life what you learn in session. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process, such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors, or acting on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives, and take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask include the following:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is preapproval required from my primary care physician?

Do the conversations we have in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent.” Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your physician, naturopath, attorney, for example), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

  • If the therapist has reason to suspect past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources;
  • If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him- or herself or has threatened to harm another person; or
  • If the therapist has reason to believe that the operator of a motor vehicle is impaired and needs to be evaluated by PENN DOT or have their license revoked.

Can I bring someone with me to have a session together?

Your sessions can include anyone you feel is needed for success in your treatment.  Please note that it is required that you speak with your therapist about the person you wish to bring in first. 

Do I need to wear a mask in the office?

At this time, we do not require a mask, however you may choose to if you wish.  We also can choose to wear one as well.  If you have any flu like symptoms please contact the office to reschedule.

Can I be seen by telehealth and in office?

Yes, you can have sessions both ways.  Office sessions are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and some clinicians have Thursday in office availability.

Telehealth sessions are offered Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Dr. Richard Blackford offers sessions on Saturdays.

What forms do I need to fill out before scheduling an appointment?

There are 3 forms required before an appointment can be scheduled.  All the forms can be found on our website in the drop down that says Forms.

  • Registration Form
  • Cost of Treatment
  • Telehealth Consent

Can I schedule more than one session at a time?

Yes, you can schedule future appointments by calling the office or logging into the Therapy Portal.  Several appointments scheduled at a time is recommended as consistency in therapy is important for success. 

How much notice is needed for canceling a session?

One full business day in between the date you cancel and the scheduled appointment is required to avoid paying the cancellation fee.  NO weekend cancellations are accepted.  You will need to cancel by 4pm on Friday for a scheduled Monday appointment.

What if it’s an emergency and I cannot make the appointment?

Emergencies do come up and sometimes late cancellations are unavoidable.  You will be automatically charged the late fee unless you speak with you therapist or office staff.

About Therapy

How do I set up my Therapy Portal account?

You will be sent a welcome email.  Follow the directions from there to set up an account creating a password and using your email as your username.  You will have 7 days to create your account before the email expires.   Once your account is set up, please visit the website to login for your session.  https://www.therapyportal.com/p/affiliated16508/

How do I access my telehealth appointment?

Login to the Therapy Portal using a new link (not the one provided with the welcome email for setting up your account).  https://www.therapyportal.com/p/affiliated16508/

Can you reset my password?

Yes, a new email will be sent to you and you will have 24 hours to reset the password.  Remember you will need to visit the website separately from the reset email. I suggest bookmarking the website. https://www.therapyportal.com/p/affiliated16508/

Can I request appointments online?

Yes, you can request appointments online using the Therapy Portal.  If your appointment is approved you will be notified.  If there is a reason, we cannot approve your appointment you will be contacted by the office.

Can I use my phone for a video session?

Yes, most phones can support the Therapy Portal.  Any device that has a camera and microphone should work. Laptop, iPad, Tablet, Phone etc.

Why can I not access my telehealth session?

If you cannot access your session there could be a few different reasons. One your browser may not support a telehealth session?  Have you approved access to your camera or microphone? Try using a different device?  Do you have the correct time and day?  If you still cannot access your appointment, please call the office at 814-835-7043 for assistance.

What if I have tried everything and still cannot get logged in for my telehealth session?

Contact the office at 814-835-7043 or call your therapist to do a phone session until you can get assistance with your account or device. 

About Billing

Billing Procedure

Each time you visit our office, we generate an insurance claim. This claim is sent to your insurance provider for review. Your insurance company will send us a payment along with an Explanation of Benefits or Remittance Advice. You will also receive a copy of this from your insurance company. They determine if you are responsible for a co-payment, a deductible amount, or if services are not covered under your plan. We apply the insurance payment to your session and send you a statement for your portion of costs.

What insurance do you accept?

We accept most major insurance; state insurance is accepted as well. Please contact the office to confirm or call your insurance company.  Amy Boxer does not accept Medicare.

How much is a session?

  • Cost of your treatment is depending on your insurance please call them prior to setting up your first session to see what your patient responsibility will be as we require payment prior to your first session.
  • Without insurance your first session is $160, and your follow up sessions are $140.

How can I pay my bill?

We accept cash, check, or credit card.

Credit card payments can be made over the phone or online by visiting the payment page of our website.

Check or money orders can be mailed to 1444 w.38th street, Erie, PA 16508-2346 and should be made payable to Richard C. Blackford, PhD PC .

Cash payments are not encouraged while we are working out of the office. If necessary, cash payments can be deposited in the locked mailbox on the northeastern side of our building. For your safety, we advise that you do not mail cash payments.

How can I make the payment online?

Payments can be made at our website at https://affiliatedcounselingservices.com/payments/

You have my card on file, why am I receiving a bill?

Your card may be expired, or we may need permission to run your card. Give us a call and we will take care of it.

You participate with my insurance, but I still owe?

Your insurance provider has reviewed the claim and determined the amount that you owe based on your individual policy and the amount they cover for services. For more specific information on your coverage, call the phone number for mental/behavioral health on the back of your insurance card.

What is the difference between a deductible, a co-pay and co-insurance?

A deductible is an annual amount that must be met before your insurance plan will pay for any of your care costs. A co-payment is a set dollar amount for you to pay each time you utilize a routine service. Co-insurance is a percentage of costs that you are responsible after your deductible is met.

How do I set up a payment plan?

Sometimes a session costs more than you were expecting and a balance is acquired please call the office to set up payment arrangements. 814-835-7043.  Your prompt attention to any balance is important to avoid appointment cancellations.  Remember copays are due at the time of your session.

I have never been to your office. Why am I receiving a bill?

The most common reason is that you are the responsible party listed for one of our patients in a skilled nursing facility or are the parent or legal guardian of one of our clients. Check the statement; under your name and address there is a line that indicates “patient name.” If you are not the responsible party for the patient listed, please give us a call immediately.

What skilled nursing facilities/nursing homes do you visit?

Dr. Richard Blackford consults at the following facilities: Brevillier Village, Bradford Manor, Clarion Healthcare Center, Corry Manor, Edinboro Manor, Kinzua Healthcare Center, LIFE NWPA, Sarah Reed Senior Living, and Warren Manor.

I thought my insurance company was waiving patient amounts during COVID-19?

Many insurance companies are waiving co-payments for telehealth. Each company is different in what they will cover and how long they will cover these costs. For more information, it is best to call your insurance provider directly and ask about your specific coverage.

What is a missed session fee and why do I have one?

There is a $100 fee for each appointment missed or cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice. Exceptions are made for emergencies only. This policy is included in your client registration and is posted throughout the office, online and on our appointment cards.

Why am I being charged a $25 late fee?

Late fees are applied 30 days after your first statement is sent out if no payment is made.  The late fee will be applied 30 days after each statement is sent out until the final notice then your account will be sent to collections and you will not be eligible to schedule an appointment until the account is paid in full.

Why was my bill sent to collections?

It has been over 90 days since we have sent your initial statement and we have had no correspondence from you. Your bill will not be sent to collections if you have made payment arrangements and/or have been making payments.

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