As of January 1, 2020, the fee for new patients in individual sessions is $175. The fee for couple's sessions is $200. I only accept checks or cash for payment. I do not accept credit cards or debit cards or electronic forms of payment.
If you cannot afford this amount, let me know before your first appointment so that we can negotiate a lower fee.
If you are not sure whether I would be a suitable therapist for you, you can request a free half-hour telephone conversation to help you decide before you schedule your first session in-person.
Methods of Communication
Methods of Communication
~ Telephone Communication: My voicemail is confidential. You can always leave a personal message for me and I will respond as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.
Patients who have ongoing sessions with me but are out of town at the time of their usual appointments can have telephone therapy sessions.
Phone therapy sessions are only for established patients who have attended at least 4 in-person sessions. There is no insurance coverage for phone sessions.
In-person contact is necessary for me to maintain awareness of your facial expressions and body language, and for me to communicate with you using eye contact and nonverbal communication.
~ Email Communication
~ Email Communication: Email may be used to inquire about my services, to schedule or cancel appointments, and to communicate with me between ongoing in-person sessions.
I do not provide email-only psychotherapy. This policy is based on the fact that without visual and audio communication cues, it is difficult to accurately interpret the meaning and significance of email messages. The benefits of using email are outweighed by the potential for unintentional misunderstandings and the risk of harm if we never meet face-to-face.
~ Other Methods of Communication
~ Other Methods of Communication: I do not use texting, Skype, or video for therapy or communication. I do not use Internet chat rooms or any social media platforms. If you have feedback, complaints, or problems, please contact me privately. As a licensed psychologist, I am not legally allowed to respond in public settings or forums.
Phone, FAX, regular mail, and email are the only methods of communication that I use.
~ Financial Expectations You are expected to pay for each session at the time it occurs. Cash or checks are accepted. At this time, I do not take credit cards or debit cards. Please notify me if any problems arise regarding your ability to make timely payments.
If you prefer to receive a monthly invoice, I am willing to bill you after you have established a history of paying bills on time.
~ Insurance Coverage: To use insurance benefits, I will need to check your coverage before your first appointment. If I am not an in-network provider, you may have benefits that cover out-of-network providers.
To verify insurance coverage, I will need to know your full name, your insurance ID#, your date of birth, and the customer service phone number for mental health providers that is on your insurance card.
Having insurance is not a guarantee that your sessions will be paid for by the company. Each plan has different rules and regulations. If the insurance company does not cover the fee, the patient is responsible for payment.
Be aware that using insurance to pay for services involves certain restrictions that you must be willing to accept:
1. The company may only pay if you have a serious mental illness or have particular diagnoses. I cannot give you a diagnosis that is not true just to get it covered by the insurance company.
2. The company will require me to give them a diagnosis and personal information about you in order to obtain payment for services.
3. Diagnoses and personal information required by the insurance company becomes part of your medical record.
3. There may be a limit on the number of sessions you are allowed.
4. The company may stop paying for services before you are ready to stop therapy and despite Dr. Diamond's recommendations to continue.
5. If the company stops paying for services, you will have to pay for additional sessions out of pocket if you want to continue therapy.
6. Once your personal information is released to the insurance company or human resources department, I have no control over who sees those medical records and cannot be held liable for breaches of confidentiality that may occur after such release.
~ Time Management:
Sessions usually start on time. This means you are expected to let me know if you are running late (more than 10 minutes) or need to reschedule.
Sessions usually last one full hour. You can rely upon seeing me at the scheduled time without much waiting. You can then make plans for the rest of your day because you know how much time is involved. This system is different from seeing a physician for medical appointments, which typically involve an unpredictable amount of time and a lot of waiting around, which can put your entire day in limbo.
~ Cancellations: If you must cancel an appointment, you are expected to give 24 hours notice. A $25 fee will be charged for missed sessions without sufficient notification.
~ Confidentiality: Personal information disclosed is confidential and will not be revealed without written permission except when disclosure is required by law. Disclosure may be legally required in the following circumstances: When there is reasonable suspicion of abuse of children or elders; when there is reasonable suspicion that the client is at risk of harming themselves or others; and when ordered to do so by a court in the context of a legal proceeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
~ Why is it so expensive?
In addition to the time in session with you, my fee also covers time spent in between sessions doing the following work: writing notes to remember important details about you, doing research to find other resources you may need, reviewing notes before your session, tracking your progress, preparing needed paperwork, and most importantly, time thinking about you and figuring out how to best help you. My flat fee also includes all government taxes.
~ Why is it a good idea to select a psychologist who is licensed?
A licensed psychologist is the mental health professional with the most knowledge and experience. A licensed psychologist (a Ph.D. or Psy.D.) is the only professional who is legally allowed to do psychological testing (for example, to measure learning abilities) or neuropsychological assessment (for instance, to evaluate traumatic brain injury or dementia). We have to meet the highest standards and prove that we are proficient and skilled by passing two extremely difficult license exams, each lasting 3-4 hours. To earn the right to take the license exams, we must first earn a Master's degree and a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. Doctorate degree. Then we must work for 3000 hours (at least 2 years) with patients/clients under the supervision of another licensed psychologist, and get written approval of that work. Once we have documented those achievements and proved we have passed certain critical courses, we are eligible to take the license exams.
The first license exam is a national test given to psychologists all over the USA. To earn the right to take the license exams, we must first earn a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. doctorate degree. The national exam covers everything you can possibly imagine about psychology, including brain anatomy, psychopharmacology, child and adult development, how to diagnose every type of symptom, risks and possible benefits of different types of psychotherapy, assessment and testing, ethical behavior, client's legal rights, informed consent, confidentiality, etc.
The second license exam is the California test. This exam covers many of the same topics, with particular emphasis on laws that are specific to California, and on emergency situations where you need to use critical thinking and good judgment.
In addition, a licensed psychologist must take at least 36 hours of continuing education courses every two years. This requirement ensures that our knowledge remains up-to-date and is periodically refreshed. Ethical and legal courses must be taken every two years.
A licensed psychologist is registered with the State of California and our licenses can be revoked if we do not meet ethical or legal standards of care, or if there is confirmed evidence of abuse, mistreatment, or malpractice. Complaints about licensed psychologists are investigated by the California Board of Psychology. If you have a complaint about a licensed psychologist, you can report it to the Consumer Affairs Department at the Board of Psychology. For contact information, see the Links section on this website.
~ Are all licensed psychologists the same?
No. Each licensed psychologist has received similar basic training. However, each individual has their own personality style, special interests, and areas of expertise. Each has a particular therapeutic orientation or perspective, and uses specific types of therapeutic approaches.
Research shows that the key to successful therapy is the right match of therapist and client. Each licensed psychologist is suited for certain types of people or certain types of issues. Each client has preferences, styles, and goals that must be taken into consideration. Discussion of the key factors in the beginning can make a big difference in the outcome.
I am keenly aware of the critical elements in matching therapist to client. I only work with people who I believe I am suited to help. I know my limits and work within them. I maintain an extensive network of other professionals who I believe are excellent and have a variety of styles and areas of expertise. When appropriate, I will make referrals and will explain why I think that someone else would be a better match for you.
~ I'm confused by all the different degrees and titles. What are the differences between a Ph.D., a Psy.D., an M.D., an M.F.T., and an L.C.S.W.?
There are many people offering mental health services and the distinctions between them can be confusing. Let me describe each one.
A Ph.D. is a doctorate degree.This is the highest degree that can be obtained in the field of psychology. A person who has earned a Ph.D. in Psychology has studied everything related to the field. This includes brain anatomy, biochemistry and physiology, psychopharmacology, testing, child and adult development, personality and cultural differences, sex and gender issues, ethical and legal issues, the entire history of psychology, the diagnosis of every possible symptom including hundreds of theories and dozens of different approaches to treatment, the risks and benefits of each treatment, and other topics. A person with a Ph.D. had to do original research that contributes to the scientific field, writing up the results in a dissertation manuscript that is usually hundreds of pages long, and approved by a committee of several other persons with doctoral degrees.
A Psy.D. is also a doctorate degree in psychology. The Psy.D. is a relatively new degree that has only existed for about 10-20 years. So when a person has a Psy.D. degree you know they have been recently trained. The Psy.D. program focuses on clinical training. Psy.D. programs give students more time to practice therapy with clients and they are given credit for that. Psy.D programs typically exclude research and some of the formal scientific aspects of psychology.
An M.D. is a medical doctor, a physician. If you want medication in California, you must get a prescription from an M.D. Any physician can prescribe medication. However, if you want medication, I recommend that you consult a "board-certified psychiatrist". A board-certified psychiatrist has extensive training and experience in the use of medication for different conditions, including medication interactions and side effects. A psychiatrist who is not board-certified may have had only a couple of years training as an intern or resident.
There are specialties within board-certified psychiatry. If you need medication for an adolescent, seek a board-certified adolescent psychiatrist. If you are over 60, look for a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist. Those two age groups have biochemistry that is different than the average adult population upon whom the medications are usually tested. Make sure that the psychiatrist knows how to adjust the dosage for your age, knows which medications are better or worse for your age and other medical conditions, and monitors you in regular check-ups. Medication can have different effects over time and you are likely to have questions about its use over time so it is important to have a psychiatrist who will schedule adequate time for discussion. If you want me to do so, I can talk to the psychiatrist on your behalf or recommend psychiatrists.
Some psychiatrists also do psychotherapy. However, even a board-certified psychiatrist may only get trained in traditional Freudian psychoanalysis. Many other perspectives and approaches have been developed in the last 100 years, and for many types of problems, these other perspectives and approaches are more appropriate. Only a licensed psychologist is trained in the full range of therapeutic treatments and perspectives.
An M.F.T. is a Marriage and Family Therapist. This type of license means the therapist may only have a Master's degree, which typically requires only 2 years of graduate school education, in contrast to a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree, which requires 6-7 years of graduate school education. A therapist with an MFT license may not have adequate training or experience for complicated problems and a licensed psychologist may be more appropriate. However, some MFTs have special training and/or experience that may make them an excellent choice for a specific type of problem.
An L.C.S.W. is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This means the person may only have a Master's degree. Their training and experience typically focuses on identifying the kind of resources that people need and connecting people to those resources. An L.C.S.W. may be appropriate when you need to know how you can get help in the community and need to know what resources are available. An L.C.S.W. may specialize in awareness of particular types of resources within particular communities. Sometimes an L.C.S.W. does counseling within an area of expertise. For complicated or severe problems, or for issues outside their area of expertise, an L.C.S.W. may not have adequate training or experience and a licensed psychologist may be more appropriate. Some LCSWs have special training and/or experience that may make them an excellent choice for a specific type of problem.