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Cost Transparency 

Most people do not understand the hidden work psychologists must do. 

You are likely very familiar with going to a medical doctor (MD) and paying a copay. MDs and psychologists work very differently. MDs’ work typically ends when they leave your appointment room, but after an initial meeting with a psychologist, their work has only begun. Psychologists must solve a much more complex puzzle than MDs, composed of pieces of information regarding much more than just your symptoms.  

You can tell a physician where it hurts in your body, but psychologists have put the pieces together to discover the origins of your pains. The source of the psychological pain is due to many different factors –  it cannot be found with a quick medical test. Psychologists must not only account for biological/physical factors (the MDs’ sole focus), but also emotional, behavioral, personality, and social factors. 

 Here is an overview of the order in which I give you helpful explanations: 

  • Why many experienced psychologists cannot accept copays?
  • Why is a retainer often collected?
  • How much use will you get from an evaluation?
  • Why psychologists must go beyond diagnosis
  • Who can help you the most?
  • What are the many values of your assessment
  • Common mental health costs
  • What is distinctive about Dr. Brunner’s approach?

Why many experienced psychologists cannot accept copays:

As psychologists become more seasoned, they must to leave the insurance panels because they literally cannot make a living. Here is an article written by a psychologist’s office on why they can no longer accept copays. Remember: MDs see an average of 30 to 60 people a day, using brief and quick appointments. In contrast, if you want your evaluation to be thorough, psychology appointments must involve in-depth discussions across multiple days to discover all the puzzle pieces. The increased pricing psychologists charge is driven by the increased time they must invest with each individual, to give you an evaluation that will help you make hundreds of vital decisions over your lifetime. 

Why is a retainer collected?

Psychological assessment requires much more “manual” labor than medical assessment.  MDs outsource their requests for X rays, blood tests, MRIs, etc., to other healthcare professionals. Because you are not told by the MD what the costs for those tests will be, you are hit with many surprising charges. In contrast, we emphasize up-front transparency, where the retainer is also helping to pay for the tests and other procedures that only the psychologist does. We do not outsource any work! So, in medical terms, the psychologist is the doctor, the nurse, radiologist reviewing X rays, the lab technicians, etc. Psychologists do it all themselves.

How much value will you get from an evaluation?

You are willing to pay more for vital things you use every day, like a car. You are willing to pay a higher price because you expect to get hundreds of thousands of miles from your car. You can expect to get as many miles and years of value from an in-depth psychological evaluation.  Like a car, an evaluation is essential to helping you find what you want, and being where you need to be in life: Finding successful and fulfilling relationships, maximizing educational achievements, or having meaning in life all depend on having psychological insight. The psychological evaluation does not just get you from point A to point B, it helps you choose the best destinations. Psychological evaluations give you the judgement you need to make any important life decisions.  So, the “cost-per-use” of an evaluation is actually small compared to how much you will use the evaluation’s findings. And remember: “The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price” (Benjamin Franklin quote).

Why psychologists must go beyond diagnosis?

In medicine, the goal is diagnosis, but in psychology, a diagnosis is much less helpful. Each person’s psychological problems are expressed through the unique lens of their individual personality. While in medicine, 10 people with a knee injury will get an MRI and look virtually the same, in psychology, 10 people with ADHD will look very different. That is because the “anatomy and physiology” of your personality is totally unique. For example, your ADHD symptoms are experienced, expressed and controlled uniquely to you. MDs stop after they diagnose, but a diagnosis for a psychologist is only a part of a more comprehensive process. Read Dr. Brunner’s blog on this topic.

Who can help you the most?

Counselors, social workers, coaches, and psychiatrists will all tell you they can help you. Psychologists have undergone a much greater amount of education and training in how to assess biological, psychological and social factors than any other behavioral health professional. Look closely at the track record of the professional, and what they have done to prove they are a trustworthy detective.  Dr. Brunner’s background, track record of research, and social profile are all immediately accessible.

Some of the many values of assessment: 

  • Identifying what specific factors are together contributing to ones’ distress, anxiety, depression etc.
  • Learning how past experiences continue to affect behavior in hidden ways, such as lowering performance
  • Figuring out what is getting in the way on living a sustainably fulfilling life
  • Identifying why bad relationship choices have been made, and how to have better judgement and great relationships
  • Getting appropriate school- or work-based accommodations to maximize learning or productivity
  • Guiding any future counseling so it is precisely focused, productive, and cost-effective
  • Ensuring any medication professional you consult has an immediate and clear, in-depth understanding of the situation
  • Ensuring any other type of treating professional (speech therapist, occupational therapist, teacher, etc.) can acquire an immediate and in-depth understanding of the situation
  • Ensuring there are appropriate accommodations for any standardized examinations (e.g., SAT, GRE) that need to be facilitated now, or in the future
  • Identifying hidden, unconscious biases undermining accurate school or career related decisions
  • Discovering how the person being evaluated can best be motivated to reach their true potential
  • Clarifying how to ensure that any academic tutoring is customized to particular emotional, learning, and cognitive needs
  • Ensuring athletes or talented individuals can find their true potential by finding hidden factors hampering performance

Common mental health-related expenses:

1 day in a psychiatric facility averages  $320-$1,930 per day.

1 Month in residential psychiatric facility averages $10,000-$60,000 per month

1 year in residential psychiatric facility averages $120,000-$720,000 per year

Typical cost of a month of therapy at 175/hr averages  $700

Typical cost of 6 months of therapy at 175/hr averages  $4,200