Family Innovations-Great Answers to Great Questions (FAQ)

What kinds of things do people seek help for?

People seek counseling for a variety of reasons including feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, worried, sad, or angry. Individual problems, as well as parent-child, family problems, and marriage or relationship concerns are common reasons for seeking therapy. Job or work related stress, feeling overwhelmed with life, and feeling hopeless are additional reasons to talk with a therapist. People also seek out counseling to help change behaviors that are troubling them including addictive or disordered behaviors or behaviors that affect their relationships at home or at work. Some people seek counseling because they have a life goal that has been eluding them and they are ready to explore their barriers. Other people seek out counseling because they know they are going through a difficult time or facing a difficult decision and they desire a place to sort through their feelings and move forward in their life with intention and clear thinking.

At Family Innovations, we have professional therapists trained to work with adults, couples, families, school age youth, and very young children ages birth through five years. Please call us for more information.

How does counseling help?

When a counseling relationship is working well, people experience new insights into their situations, clearer thinking, increased energy, better understanding of their feelings and needs, release of troubling emotions that have held them back or been confusing, and a greater sense of wholeness and peace within themselves. Learning new and more effective strategies to improve relationships, or to learn different ways to address parenting concerns are often gained through counseling. Therapy is a process, and a working partnership develops between client and therapist. Therapy is not always comfortable or straightforward as difficult emotions and ways of being often have to be sorted through in order for change to appear. Clients should feel comfortable with their therapist and be able to ask about whatever is on their mind regarding the process. In spite of the uncomfortable emotions experienced, clients often feel that the temporary pain of the working through process is well worth leaving behind the continual pain of living the way they had previously.

What will a typical appointment be like?

During your first appointment for psychotherapy or counseling, your counselor will need a summary of the problems or questions that have brought you to counseling in order to work with you to establish goals and an appropriate treatment plan for your counseling. Adults will meet alone with the counselor. Children and adolescents will usually have some time with the parent present and some time alone with the counselor; a session that allows observation of and discussion among family members may also be held. The counselor will want to hear your history, including: family history and dynamics, significant relationships, work, substance use, cultural background, major losses, traumas, medical issues and any other information that may prove helpful. Parents will be asked to provide information about their child’s developmental history, schooling and social relationships, as well as other information that may be relevant to the difficulties the child is experiencing.

If your referral question is very specific (for example, a fear of flying) one session will usually be enough to provide the necessary information to develop a treatment plan. If it is more complicated (for example, serious marital conflict or a long history of unsuccessful relationships) more time will be needed for the two of you to develop a plan.

Therapy sessions are 45-50 minutes in length. This leaves your counselor 10 minutes to take notes and prepare for his or her next appointment. Although your counselor will likely ask questions and lead the discussion during the first appointment it is important for you to take the lead as much as possible in future appointments. Your counselor will often wait to see if you have important issues you would like to bring up in any given session. It is a good idea for you to report on progress or setbacks and to let your counselor know of any significant events since your last appointment, and provide honest feedback to the counselor regarding your treatment.

How many sessions will I need to have?

There is no single answer to this question. For some people that may take as little as a few sessions. Others may continue for months or years, often with increased periods of time between appointments. The length of therapy depends on your situation and the types of concerns you have. If you are coming to an office for therapy, a typical expectation would be to attend 8-12 sessions. Typically, early in the course of therapy, sessions are weekly until you are doing better. You and your therapist agree on a schedule to taper your office visits as your situation improves. This frequency is established between you and your therapist.

We recommend that you follow through with counseling until you have accomplished the goals that you and your therapist discussed at your initial appointment. It is important that you know that you are in charge of your counseling. When you feel that you have accomplished as much as you want from counseling please let your therapist know and the two of you will plan for termination of treatment. If you find at any time that you would like to terminate your counseling we do recommend that you schedule at least one last appointment to discuss your progress and how to maintain it in the future. And, like a family doctor, we are here for you if you should need us again in the future for help with another problem.

Will my health insurance benefits cover services at Family Innovations, Inc.?

Almost all medical insurance plans cover outpatient mental health services from mental health clinics such as Family Innovations. However, it is important that you confirm your benefits with your insurance company. Some will allow you to see any mental health professional while others require that the professional be on their approved list. Your insurance provider may have restrictions about frequency or maximum number of appointments: please familiarize yourself with any such requirements. We will usually not know your diagnosis when we first call your insurance company to estimate your benefits. Please remember that you are responsible for fees for your treatment such as co-pays, spend downs or deductibles. We will assist you in confirming your benefits but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information that we receive. It is not uncommon to receive one interpretation of your benefits from an insurance representative on the phone and then receive a different interpretation when we actually submit the sessions for reimbursement.

Most plans have the client pay a co-payment with a general range of $5.00-$30.00 per visit. Some plans have deductibles which means you have to “meet” your deductible in a given calendar year before your plan pays benefits. Typical plans like this pay 80% of charges after the deductible is met. Your insurance company can give you more specific information for your benefits for mental health counseling.

Do I need a referral from my doctor or insurance to be seen at your clinic?

Most health insurance plans allow you to contact us and schedule an appointment at Family Innovations, and a referral is not needed.

What does out-of-network mean?

Out of network refers to the fact that you have a choice in your health plan to go outside of your particular HMO or Managed Care Network. This gives you options and typically you will have a deductible and then an 80/20 plan. The advantage of this is that you have more choice about the care given to you.

Are Family Innovations therapists affiliated with or have privileges with any hospitals?

We are strictly an outpatient clinic and do not provide hospital-based services. If someone needs to be considered for hospitalization we will help arrange for this and will carefully discuss this with you.

Do you provide crisis services?

We are not a crisis clinic. Please call 911 in an emergency and/or life threatening situation. All clients are assessed for any crisis concerns, and therapists can facilitate the development of a crisis plan, with local crisis resources included.

Do you provide chemical abuse or dependency counseling?

Family Innovations does not provide counseling services specifically for individuals concerned about alcohol or drug abuse. The harm associated with chemical abuse can affect marriages and families – we can provide relationship counseling for those concerns.

How do I make an appointment?

Please call either the clinic location that best suits you, or call our intake department directly at 612-924-3807. You may also send us an email request through the  “Appointments” tab on our website. After a brief conversation with one of our intake coordinators during which contact and insurance information will be collected as well as the general nature of your concerns for which you are seeking counseling, you will be scheduled with a qualified clinician to work with you.

Typically we recommend that you schedule your first 3-4 appointments during the intake conversation to ensure you are able to be seen for several follow-up appointments soon after your first appointment. Alternatively, scheduling after your first counseling session can take place when you come in to the office by speaking with the front desk, or by calling any of our offices at any time. 

What are the home-based counseling programs?

Family Innovations offers home based mental health services for children and youth, ages birth to 18, and up to age 21 in some circumstances. This program is managed through the Minnesota Department of Human Services, through Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports, or CTSS. The youth must be enrolled in Medical Assistance (MA), and qualify as having an emotional disorder. This is an intensive program that involves up to two home visits per week with 3-5 face to face contact hours. It also requires the parent(s) to be actively involved.

The program for adults is called the Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services, or ARMHS program. The main criterion for this program is the adult must have a diagnosed mental illness. A mental health practitioner is assigned and the services are considered rehabilitative in nature. Medical Assistance and PMAP’s cover this program.

See our website under “Home Based Counseling” for more information on our programs for home based services for both children/families, and for adults.

Do you have evening or weekend appointments?

Family Innovations offers morning, afternoon, and evening appointments Monday-Thursday, and morning and afternoon appointments on Fridays. We do not currently offer Saturday appointments. Hours of operation vary from clinic to clinic and therapists have differing schedules; our intake department will do whatever they can to accommodate your schedule when connecting you with a therapist and will provide further details on your therapist's availability during the intake process. Please note: in order to secure regular after school or evening sessions, it may be necessary to schedule out 4-6 weeks in advance due to high demand for these times. 

Does Family Innovations prescribe medications?

No. However, if a Family Innovations therapist believes you may benefit from medication, he or she will recommend that you have a medication evaluation with your primary care physician or a psychiatrist. We can also refer you to psychiatrists with whom we work closely. Your therapist will be able to help you monitor the effectiveness of medications your physician prescribes in order to help you and your physician find the right medication or dosage level for you.

I’ve heard you provide Christian counseling – what does that mean?

Family Innovations welcomes adults, families and children of all faiths and belief systems. Given the locations of our counseling clinics, we reach a diversity of people seeking a listening, empathetic ear. Spirituality is deeply important to us as human beings and is the source of meaning, purpose, and healing in our lives. Human beings are so much more than simply their behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. Struggling with one’s spiritual beliefs is often a normal part of being human. Occasionally, we even have clients come to us who have been hurt by individuals in the Christian church and have sworn off Christianity altogether. Often important healing needs to take place in this realm, as clients come to understand how they have been shaped, hurt, and/or blessed by their spiritual practice. Family Innovations therapists are experienced, compassionate, and supportive in their work with people of all walks of life. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about our unique, diverse approach to counseling.

Do I get to choose my own counselor?

Yes. A description and biography of each therapist from Family Innovations is available on our “Locations and Staff” page on this website. We have male and female counselors at all locations providing professional counseling services, such as marriage counseling, family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling as well as specific behavioral counseling services. At times, insurance limits the type of licensed mental health therapist you can see – your insurance company can provide you with that information.

What if the therapist I chose does not work out for me?

From time to time a specific counselor’s style is not a good fit for a client. If that is the case, clients usually know that in the first two or three sessions. It is important to bring that issue up with your therapist. You will not offend him or her if you would like to try a different therapist. It is sometimes part of the counseling process. Your therapist can then refer you to another counselor who may be a better match for you.

What should I do if my spouse or teen is unwilling to come to counseling?

By all means come anyway. At Family Innovations, clients frequently report relationship growth even though they are the only one working to improve it. In fact, sometimes spouses or teens are more willing to come to counseling when they see positive changes in their spouse or parent.

Can you recommend a strategy to get my teen into counseling?

When a teen is told he or she needs professional counseling, it typically means he or she is seen as the problem in the family. No one wants that label and generally, we all play a role in problems that prevent our families from working well together. It is sometimes easier for a teen to agree to see an adolescent counselor when they know mom, dad, and possibly other family members are going together to focus on family counseling issues. At Family Innovations, therapists can work with several members of a family, individually and together in order to improve overall family dynamics like communication, conflict resolution, trust, mutual respect, and honesty.

Isn’t counseling really for weak or fragile people or the mentally ill?

Twenty years ago and more, professional counseling services carried a certain stigma. Today, most professional counselors agree that it takes a very strong person to walk into their office and face personal and relationship struggles head on. Being in counseling is commendable. In Family Innovations counseling sessions, your therapist will help you use your strengths to overcome the difficulties you are facing. Living with difficult problems or pretending they do not exist just prolongs the freedom that comes with conquering them. Give us a call, and begin to move closer to experiencing that freedom.

Is what I tell my therapist confidential?

Yes. We are as concerned about your privacy as you are. All client-therapist conversations are confidential. It is also confidential information that a person is meeting with a therapist. You would need to sign a Confidential Release of Information before our staff or professional therapists would even acknowledge to another person that you are a client at Family Innovations. Only in rare exceptions when the safety of a client or others is at risk can disclosure of confidential client-therapist information take place.  

You can view our Notice of Privacy Practices and Client Bill of Rights below.  

Notice of Privacy Practices

The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Health Insurance Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) are federal programs which require that all medical records and other individually identifiable health information used or disclosed by Family Innovations, Inc. in any form, whether electronically, on paper, or orally, are kept properly confidential. These Acts give you, the client, significant new rights to understand and control how your health information is used. HIPAA and HITECH provide penalties for covered entities that misuse protected health information.

As required by HIPAA and HITECH, Family Innovations, Inc. has prepared this explanation of how we are required to maintain the privacy of your health information and how we may use and disclose your treatment information.

We may use and disclose your medical records only for each of the following purposes: treatment, payment and health-care operations.

  • Treatment means providing, coordinating, or managing health care and related services by one or more health-care therapists. An example of this would include treatment session notes.
  • Payment means such activities as obtaining reimbursement for services, confirming coverage, billing or collection activities, and utilization review. An example of this would be sending a bill for your visit to your insurance company for payment.
  • Health-care operations include the business aspects of running our practice, such as conducting quality assessment and improvement activities, auditing functions, cost-management analysis, confirming appointments, and customer service. An example would be an internal quality assessment review.

We may also create and distribute de-identified health information by removing all references to individually identifiable information.

We may contact you to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.

Any other uses and disclosures (such as for marketing purposes, or disclosures that constitute the sale of protected health information) will be made only with your written authorization.  Furthermore, any disclosure of psychotherapy notes will be made only with your written authorization. You may revoke such an authorization at any time by sending written notification to our Privacy Officer listed below.  We are required to honor and abide by that written request except to the extent that we have already taken actions based on your previous authorization.

You have the following rights with respect to your protected health information, which you can exercise by presenting a written request to the Privacy Officer:

  • The right to request restriction on certain uses and disclosures of protected health information, including those related to disclosures to family members, other relatives, close personal friends, or any other person identified by you. We are, however, not required to agree to a requested restriction.  If we do agree to a restriction, we must abide by it unless you agree, in writing, to remove it.
  • The right to restrict disclosure of protected health information to your health plan if you are paying out-of-pocket in full for services provided.
  • The right to reasonable requests to receive confidential communications of protected health information from us by alternative means or at alternative locations.
  • The right to inspect and request an electronic or paper copy of your protected health information.
  • The right to amend your protected health information.
  • The right to obtain from us, and we have the obligation to provide to you, a paper copy of this notice at your first service delivery date.
  • The right to provide, and we are obligated to receive, written acknowledgement that you have received a copy of our Notice of Privacy Practices.
  • The right to receive, and we are obligated to provide, notice of any breach of confidentiality of your protected health information.

We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your protected health information and to provide you with a notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to protected health information.

This notice is effective as of April 14, 2003 and we are required to abide by the terms of the Notice of Privacy Practices currently in effect.  We reserve the right to change the terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices and to make the new notice provisions effective for all protected health information that we maintain.  We will post and you may request a written copy of a revised Notice of Privacy Practices from this office.

You have recourse if you feel that your privacy protections have been violated.  You have the right to file a formal written complaint with us at the address below or with the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, about violations of the provisions of this notice or the policies and procedures of our office.  We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

Please contact us for more information:
Privacy Officer
Family Innovations, Inc.
7041 20th Avenue South
Centerville, MN 55038
(651) 407-3631                                                                                                                  

For more information about HIPAA/HITECH or to file a complaint:
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Office of Civil Rights
200 Independence Avenue South West
Washington, D.C.  20201
(202) 619-6775 
(877) 696-6775 

Client Bill of Rights

Effective communication between the client and the therapist is very important. The following information covers many of the questions that may arise about the therapy process. The Bill of Rights of clients obtaining psychological services is not a legal bill of rights but a statement of what you can reasonably expect from a therapist.

You have the right:

  • To be informed of fees for therapy and method of payment, including insurance reimbursements.
  • To be informed of a therapist’s availability and the length of time you can expect to wait for an appointment.
  • To be informed of the therapist’s areas of specialization and limitations.
  • To ask questions about issues related to your treatment.
  • To negotiate therapeutic goals and to renegotiate when necessary.
  • To ask questions about written materials pertaining to your treatment.
  • To refuse a specific intervention or treatment strategy.
  • To discuss aspects of treatment with others outside of therapy, including obtaining a second opinion.
  • To request a written report (with your written authorization) regarding services rendered to a qualified therapist or organization.
  • To know the ethics code to which the therapist adheres.
  • To solicit help from the appropriate board in the event of a grievance regarding the therapist’s conduct.
  • To terminate therapy at any time.

If a grievance with Family Innovations, Inc. is not resolved to your satisfaction you may file a complaint with the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Licensing at: 651-296-3971.

Psychotherapy can involve both risks and benefits to the client.

Benefits may include a reduction in problematic symptoms and an improved level of functioning in daily life. 

Sometimes the client will not obtain the desired results or goals from psychotherapy in the time period expected. This can result in frustration and dissatisfaction.  During the process of therapy, psychological pain and distress can occur as difficult issues are addressed and worked through.   When an alternative method of care is recommended, the therapist may recommend a referral for supplemental or more specialized form of care.

Confidentiality is maintained for all clients except in the following cases:

  • If child abuse is either reported or suspected.
  • When the client is a minor. The parents/guardians are entitled to know the condition, diagnosis, and progress of therapy.
  • If the client poses a “clear and imminent danger” either to themselves or someone else. The therapist is required to report such a danger to the appropriate parties, including family members, police, or the threatened party.
  • If the client is or becomes a “vulnerable adult.”
  • If the client releases information with written authorization.
  • If a court subpoenas the client’s records.
  • When consultation or supervision with another therapist is desired in order to provide the best possible therapy. Such discussions will remain private within the consultation or supervisory relationship.