What is your professional background?
Therapy or counseling is an investment in your life, health, relationships, career, family, and future.
I run a small, boutique-style practice as a specialist in working almost exclusively with gay men, as individuals or gay male couples, starting in 1992. I’m also HIV-positive (since 1990). I sometimes see other adults, such as straight women, lesbians, and straight men, non-binary, and trans folx. But LGBT in general and gay-affirmative therapy in particular has been my specialty in my clinical work, research, writing, speaking, and teaching (I’m an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC, part-time, teaching advanced courses in evidence-based clinical practice, couples therapy, and LGBT Psycho-Social-Political Issues in their graduate MSW program). I also provide organizational and media consulting, and expert witness services.
What do you offer that other therapists don’t?
Currently, as the most experienced gay men’s specialist therapist in the United States, I am sought after for this long and deep experience by clients in Southern California (Los Angeles/West Hollywood) but also from all over the United States and abroad. I’m also an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, which is the national credentialing body for sex therapists in the United States.
I offer you an in-depth knowledge of gay men’s mental health and well-being that even the most well-meaning straight therapist cannot provide. Even other gay male therapists who are generalists who work with everyone don’t have my specific expertise in working almost exclusively with gay men and gay male couples, or my long experience in doing this work full-time for decades. Plus, being a gay man myself, I “walk my talk” of living in the gay male community. I’m also in a long-term relationship (since 2002) with my husband; we were one of the first 18,000 same-sex couples to be married in California in 2008. And for those living with or concerned about HIV, I have been living successfully with HIV, healthy and active, since 1990. I am proud that I live in the same community in which I work. I “get you” in a depth of gay men’s cultural understanding that other therapists can’t offer in the same way.
What insurance plans do you take?
Because of this experience and specialization, I work on a private-hire basis only. I’m not an in-network provider with any of the discount health insurance “HMO”/managed care plans, and I don’t bill insurance plans directly. You simply pay your session fee at the time of each session (usually through a secured, encrypted credit, debit, or Health Savings Account card online on my billing software, SimplePractice, or via cash/check (for in-office sessions), Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, etc.). I provided you with a completed claim form (called a “superbill”) for you to submit to your health insurance plan to seek reimbursement as long as you have a PPO plan with “out-of-network provider” benefits and a reasonable annual out-0f-network deductible.
Speak with your health plan’s customer service representative (at the number on your health plan membership card) if you’re not sure if you have an HMO or a PPO plan, or whether they cover “out-of-network providers” for “outpatient psychotherapy”. I bill under the universal code for one hour of outpatient psychotherapy, which is code 90837 (90847 for couples). You might also ask if you have a deductible to meet for the calendar year, which is the amount you are responsible for, before your insurance benefits apply. If you are budgeting for your therapy, we might have to have a session and you submit a claim form before your insurance will reveal how much they will actually reimburse you. Usually, they will not reveal the actual dollar amount they reimburse you before you submit a live claim, but they might give you an estimate, such as “50 percent of average fees for your geographic area”. However, they will not reveal what they consider the “average” or “reasonable and customary” fee until you submit an actual claim; they consider this information their corporate intellectual property or a “trade secret.” After they process your claim, I will work with you and discuss your situation and do my best to make something work for us.
What is your session fee?
My standard session (50 minutes) fee is negotiated at the time of service, and depends on many factors. It ranges from $175 to $290, to see me, and $175 to see one of the Associate Clinicians at GayTherapyLA. Fees are the same for individual or couples sessions. Longer sessions are available at prorated rates. There are some circumstances where session fees are discounted. If you need a very low fee, I can provide you with some referrals to low-cost mental health resources and programs in the community.
Considering the Value of Therapy
I encourage you to consider the value of therapy to you, especially in comparison to the other discretionary and personal things that you spend money on in the course of the month. The intrinsic value that therapy or coaching offers in improving your life in many ways can’t be quantified. I am committed to your client satisfaction; if you ever feel that you are not getting value for the money you spend hiring me privately, we can talk about that. We can discuss how I can be more attentive to your needs, and make your investment in sessions more valuable. Hopefully, your investment in therapy is helping you to earn more in your career, get more satisfaction from your relationships, support your health, improve your mood and outlook, raise your levels of functioning, and solve the problems that bother you the most. I think you’ll find that’s worth it. I think you will also find it’s worth it to trust your care to an experienced and credentialed professional, and not to someone new to the field who is competing on price alone.