Highly effective psychotherapy combined with medication management as needed

Maor Katz, M.D

Balanced compassionate care
Maor Katz, M.D

Policies


Privacy

My goal is to provide you with the highest degree of confidentiality possible. I want you to know that it is safe to talk about what is most important to you because I believe this is necessary for growth and recovery. For example, sometimes just talking about something that has caused shame or embarrassment will bring about substantial relief. This takes tremendous courage! By protecting your confidentiality, I can make this healing process a little bit easier.

Another reason to cherish your confidentiality is that having a public record of treatment for a mental illness (with your insurance provider or with a pharmacy) may create problems in the future with obtaining life insurance, disability insurance or even medical insurance. This is why many individuals who have insurance coverage still prefer to go outside of their insurance to receive mental health care.

For these reasons, I will not provide information about your treatment to others without your permission. Even if a family member calls to inquire about you, I will not reveal that you are my patient, unless you give me permission to speak with them. Even then, my discussions with any third party would be limited to the specific topics you have given me permission to discuss. For this reason, if you would like me to speak with a relative, it is often preferable that we meet, the three of us, during a regular appointment or a portion of an appointment. Also, if anyone provides me with information about you, I will share that information with you. In other words, I will not keep any secrets from you or withhold any information from you.

You should also be aware of my limitations in protecting your confidentiality:

  1. If you seek reimbursement through your insurance company, they will require (at minimum) a diagnosis of the condition for which you are being treated. In many cases they will require additional information.
  2. Many individuals with depression experience urges to harm themselves. If I believe you are a danger to yourself, I will act in a way to protect you. This may involve talking to family members, law enforcement and other mental health professionals without your permission.
  3. I am legally obligated to report the abuse of children and the elderly.
  4. If you discuss plans to harm another person, I have a duty to protect that person, even at the expense of your confidentiality.
  5. There are a few rare circumstances in which I cannot protect your confidentiality. For example, if a Judge demands your medical records as part of a subpoena, then I must obey this order.

A more detailed description of my privacy policies will be provided upon request and as part of the "Administrative Information" memo for all new patients. You may also call me to discuss my privacy policies if you have specific concerns.

Fees and Payment

My usual and customary fee is $500/hour. What you will actually pay, per session, depends on several variables including whether your insurance pays a portion of the bill and/or whether you qualify for a sliding scale fee (see below for details).

  1. Currently I do not contract with insurance companies. You may still be able to obtain reimbursement for part of the per-session fee. To find out how much of the fee would be covered, I recommend calling your insurance company in advance. See this section for more information about the best way to do this. I also recommend that you have your visits "pre-authorized" by your insurance provider before scheduling appointments with me in order to minimize any confusion about what will be covered.
  2. Like many practitioners, I may reduce my fee to take into consideration your financial constraints; this is often called a sliding scale fee.  In order to do so, I will ask for evidence that you have a financial need for the reduced rate (usually in the form of bank statements and tax returns). Please note that I only accept a limited number of sliding scale patients at a time, therefore the waiting time for anyone requiring a reduced fee may be several months.
    Other fee-related issues to consider:
  • Ideally, paying for therapy will motivate both you and your therapist to work hard so you can accomplish your goals in a timely fashion. Payment helps to create a sense of equality, partnership and reciprocity between you and your therapist. Furthermore, payment for services helps to distinguish between therapy and a casual conversation. You might not want or expect drastic life changes to occur after a casual conversation with someone you've just met. However, if you're paying for that conversation, you are more likely to consider some of the important questions in therapy: What do I want from this? What is this worth to me? Am I getting what I paid for? Your answers to these questions are the "fuel" that drives recovery!
  • Specialized payment structures can also help with motivation. You may find it beneficial, for example, to pay ahead of time for my services or even to pay an additional amount, for future sessions, with the understanding that you will be reimbursed that extra amount, if you achieve your goals. It's easy to get tempted to "cheat", even on your own therapy, and having that little reward in mind can help keep your eye on the prize when the going gets tough. This is called a "token economy" and has proven to be extremely effective in helping people change certain types of behaviors.
    Lastly, although therapy is one of the wisest investments a person can make, you may have enough stress without adding the financial burden of an expensive therapy. Perhaps you cannot afford my fee or the wait time for a sliding scale arrangement is too long. If this is the case, I encourage you to explore other options for treatment. Here are some ideas to consider:
  1. If you are not insured, there are many free or low-cost clinics available:
    Gronowski Clinic and Hope Counseling Center. There are even a few free clinics such as the Berkeley Free Clinic.
  2. If you have insurance, keep in mind that some providers will accept your insurance while others will not. It is likely that you will save a lot of money by seeing a provider who takes your insurance. However, providers who take insurance are often booked solid or have a long waiting list. To maximize your chances of getting an appointment sooner rather than later, you can start by asking for a list of local providers by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or visiting their website. Next, call every name on that list (I recommend calling at least 20) and leave your name, phone number and a request to be seen as a new patient. Another approach is to call local hospitals, like Stanford, who accept most forms of insurance and sometimes have lower-cost clinics. Stanford's Intake phone number is: (650)498-9111. You can also visit their website. For more information about questions to ask your insurance company, see my FAQ
  3. If you are a Veteran, you may be eligible for special benefits because of the service you have provided for your country. For more information, you can visit the Veteran's Affairs Website or call their local number:
    (650) 493-5000.

Cancellations

I require a 48-hour notification to cancel a session for any reason. If you provide this advance notification, I will not charge you for the session. If you do not provide me with a 48-hour notification, you will be charged for the missed session. If I can fill your slot at the last minute, I will not charge you for the canceled session, even if you give me less than 48 hours notice. If I miss or have to cancel an appointment, you will not be charged.

Phone Calls

In certain cases, you may need to call me if a problem develops between sessions. For example, if you're experiencing a medication reaction or suddenly feel suicidal, I want you to call me right away. If a full length phone consultation is needed, I will charge for the time we spend together at my usual rate. Often, I can schedule additional sessions with you at the office within a day or two of your call if you need extra help. Sometimes, hospitalization may be helpful.

I hope you will keep phone calls between sessions to a minimum, because, as you can imagine, I also need time to unwind. This allows me to be at my very best when I see you. If you think you will need to call me frequently between sessions, we should discuss this at the initial evaluation. If you believe you are having a life-threatening emergency and are unable to contact me or the psychiatrist covering for me for any reason, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Disability and Legal Issues

I do not provide disability evaluations or sign disability claims, since this represents a conflict of interest. If you wish to be evaluated for disability, I can suggest the names of forensic experts who can provide that service for you. I will not provide copies of my evaluation, or reports of our work together, to anyone involved in a disability claim.

Similarly, if you are involved in any legal action, such as a divorce proceeding or a lawsuit, I will not testify in your behalf or provide copies of my records or reports of our work together unless I am legally forced to do so by a judge. Here's the rationale for this policy. If you recover and I have to report that to someone who is providing disability payments, then you could lose that income. This conflict of interest could prevent us from working together effectively. But if I don't have any involvement in any forensic issues, we can work together toward your recovery without any competing concerns about financial gains or losses.

Miscellaneous

I do not meet with patients, friends or family members of patients outside of sessions for any reason. I do not accept gifts from patients or family members of patients. I do not get involved in any business dealings with patients. Our work together will focus on the problems and symptoms you need help with.

Sometimes, patients give me copies of books or other materials they've written and ask me to read them between sessions. I do not read these kinds of materials between therapy sessions. However, if they seem relevant to my understanding of your problems or our work together, I'd be happy to review them with you during one of our sessions. In many cases, your verbal summary of anything you've written will be sufficient.

Additional information about my practices and polices will be provided upon request and to all new patients as part of the "Administrative Information" memo.