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Frequently Asked Questions

What is my first step in seeking services?

Your first step is to contact us by leaving a message at extension 103. Either Dr. Bristow or Dr. Schimmel will return your call. They will gather some preliminary information, including the problem for which you are seeking treatment, who you were referred to, and your insurance information. Our billing service will call your insurance company to verify benefits, check that we are providers under your plan, find out your co-payment, and obtain other plan information.

What if I need help with my child or adolescent, or if I need marital/couples counseling?

The procedure for seeking services for children or more than one member is the same as step one. We will establish if the appropriate services are available at SVPS and whether or not your insurance covers child, couple, and/or family services. Please be aware that some insurance plans exclude marital or couple therapy.

What are the specialties of the therapists at SVPS?

Dr. Bristow and Dr. Schimmel can help with wide variety of clinical issues. We work with children, adolescents, adults whose mental health issues range from relatively uncomplicated adjustment disorders to chronic mental illness. Couples/marital therapy is available, as is therapy for families. To learn more about the specific specialties of Dr. Bristow or Dr. Schimmel, visit the Psychologists page.

Where are the SVPS offices located?

We are located in the Overlake area of Redmond near the Microsoft campus. For detailed directions to the SVPS offices click here.

How long does it take to schedule an appointment?.

Dr. Bristow and Dr. Schimmel will return new patients calls within 1 business day. While our goal is to schedule and see new patients as quickly as possible, there may be may be times when have a short or long waiting period. In general, the wait time for daytime appointments is usually shorter than after-school and evening appointments. For more information about scheduling with SVPS, click here.

Are my visits to a therapist confidential?

Mental health treatment is confidential and your records are considered protected health information under state and federal laws. Generally, information may only be released with your written consent or verbal consent. There are instances where information can be released without your consent. To learn more detailed information go to About Confidentiality and Release of Information. Your therapist will also be happy answer any questions you may have regarding confidentiality.

What is the length of a session, how frequent are they, and how long will I be coming in?

The initial intake session usually lasts 60 minutes. Therapy sessions are 45 minutes in length. Frequency of appointments and length of treatment are determined jointly by you and your therapist.

What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a social worker?

The difference lies in emphasis of training. The title of PSYCHOLOGIST is reserved for individuals who have a doctoral-level degree (PhD, PsyD, EdD), and are licensed by the state. The doctoral degree typically requires 5-7 years of graduate training beyond the undergraduate level, a one year supervised internship, and an additional year of supervised work before licensure. In Washington State, a psychologist must pass a national examination and a state jurisprudence exam in order to practice. Psychologists typically provide psychotherapy, and administer and interpret psychological tests. For more information about psychology and psychologists, visit the website of the American Psychological Association. A PSYCHIATRIST holds the MD degree, and has completed medical school and a four-year residency in psychiatry. A psychiatrist will have passed several written examinations administered by a national board, and is qualified to prescribe medications. Some psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy. For further information about psychiatrists and the practice of psychiatry, visit the website of the American Psychiatric Association. SOCIAL WORKERS may have either a master’s or doctoral degree in social work, and must pass a written examination administered by their licensing board. Master’s-level social workers with two years of supervised experience who pass an additional written examination, may gain membership in the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW). You may obtain more information about social work and its practitioners by visiting the website of the National Association of Social Workers.

Will my insurance pay for mental health treatment, and what will be the cost to me?

Dr. Bristow and Dr. Schimmel are credentialed by most major insurance carriers and managed care organizations. Treatment is usually covered by your insurance under the outpatient mental health portion of your benefit. Our billing service will be happy to contact your insurance company. We will let you know if you need to obtain authorization from your insurance company, the amount of your co-pay or co-insurance portion, and the number of sessions available. Applicable co-pays, co-insurance portions, and deductibles are collected at the time of service unless you have made alternative arrangements with your therapist.

What do I do in the event of an emergency?

What do I do in the event of an emergency?
If an emergency involves imminent risk to yourself or to someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately, or contact the crisis line at (206) 461-3222 or (866) 427-4747. This applies even if you are calling to set up an initial appointment with either Dr. Bristow or Dr. Schimmel, or if you have scheduled an appointment that is pending. If you are a current patient, you may contact your therapist via his or her emergency voice mailbox by calling SVPS, pressing the number of your clinician’s voice mailbox extension, and following the instructions to have your therapist paged.

What if I have other questions?

Feel free to call us at (425)883-2623.