I opened my private practice in Riverdale in 2012. Before that, I worked with a group of therapists under one roof and received supervision on all my individual patients/couples. It was there that I realized I could specialize not only in Substance Abuse Disorder/Alcoholism but in many other areas as well. In those days, and when working under the same roof, I worked with other professionals and the director of the center insisted that we complete each session within 45 minutes. Insurance companies, at that time, reimbursed providers for a maximum of 45 minutes per session. My boss was all about billing out to the insurance companies.
I opened my private practice in the summer of 2012 and decided to specialize in Premarital, Marriage, Couples/Relationship Counseling, and/or Family Therapy. I soon learned, that due to time constraints imposed by insurance companies (they cover therapies that are a maximum of sixty minutes per sessions) they do not cover Premarital, Marriage, Couples, Relationship, and/or Family Therapy. It is unethical to treat either of these populations in sessions that are under ninety minutes. It takes at least ninety minutes to be somewhat effective; but I, personally, have never done these therapies in less than two hours.
I invented and coined the term “My Marriage Marathon” which includes therapies not only for married and engaged to be married couples, but also for couples who are in a committed relationship but are not bound by marriage. In fact, “My Marriage Marathon” extends its platform to cover Family Therapy for families on the mend and to all relationships that are trying to be saved.
I offer couples/individuals/families a mandatory and free phone consultation that takes 5-15 minutes and sometimes even longer. I am authentic and genuine during this call and determine if it is possible to have a good outcome. I do everything to increase the odds of having a successful outcome, because getting a great review is the best reward for a therapist. I level with people and I turn down couples and individuals who will no benefit from my therapy and I try to offer them other options when available. I am not on any insurance panels. I do help patients who are on certain insurance panels and who are required to pay a copayment. I also explain why they are better off choosing a private practitioner. Private practitioners are not thinking only about billing out. They are thinking more about what is best for their couple/patient right now “in the moment”. My sessions with individuals are sixty minutes and I never book back to back and my patients never feel rushed. They can use ninety minutes for their private session (that is double the amount of time given for insurance sessions).
I am so excited to introduce “My Marriage/Couples Marathon” and not only did I coin this term, but I invented its platform. Pre-Covid it required setting aside two to eight hours for each couple. It sounds like a big block of time, but the time went by so quickly. Now that we are living in Covid 19 times, I adjusted the maximum hours to six hours. Now that we do the sessions on Zoom, the sessions can go from two hours to six hours. Couples only pay for the hours they use, and they pay me after the session by using their PayPal account or some suggest paying by check.
Nobody else can offer this type of therapy and I will explain why. I explained how I do this therapy to a psychiatric nurse and he told me to charge a fee and to offer to train other professionals. He wanted me to make money by teaching others how to do it. It is not possible to train other therapists and show them how to conduct these sessions because it is not a money maker. I block out six hours of time because that is what I contract to do before making an appointment. The couple must commit to two hours of therapy and I charge by the hour for the first three hours and then cut my hourly rate to half if they use over three hours. If a couple stops after two hours, which has never yet happened, then I lose out on the next three hours. I put so much of myself into these sessions that I do not mind taking a break.
Nobody else will want to offer “My Marriage Marathon” because of the commitment they must make in terms of blocking off six hours, whether the couple uses it or not. This concept was created with the effort to have one very long session that covers a myriad of concepts and the couple cannot come to another one of “My Marriage Marathons” until they practice the skills and techniques for six weeks. All my couples walked out of my office with hope and looked a lot better than when they first arrived. Every marriage comes with challenges and I must encourage, guide, and teach couples how to ride out the waves. Negative repetitive patterns are responsible for making meaningless molehills turn into monumental mountains. Right after the session each couple walks out with their unique treatment plan and in that plan are objectives, goals, techniques and skills that they must practice for six weeks. They are informed that they cannot meet up for a second round of “My Marriage Marathon” before six weeks go by. I give each couple permission to call if they get stuck, and there is no charge for that call.
I invented an approach to marriage/couples/relationship counseling that sets it apart from other marriage/couples/relationship therapy. Most therapists are not willing to give up a full day for one couple. I went to marriage counseling/therapy for 23 years (on and off). My sessions at the most were 50-60 minutes. We would go every week for months. It was very difficult to find a babysitter, my husband was tired from working all day, and not one therapist offered weekend availability. My married couples along with other committed couples often have opposite schedules to make sure they have child-care coverage. Some couples have one day off, in common, a month. I invented “My Marriage Couples Marathon”, for serious and committed relationships where both partners are suffering and crying out for help, but they do not want to miss their shift for fear of being fired or losing a day of pay. They are seeking immediate relief. I flex and change my schedule for couples who seriously want help to save their relationship, therefore I am open seven days a week and close only on Fridays at 6:00 P.M. I do only one Saturday appointment and that session must begin at 3:00 P.M.
Due to Covid 19, I reduced the hours on Zoom to six hours instead of eight. I am thrilled to pieces that Zoom is so effective. I bond just as well to my couples. Prior to Covid 19, I turned down virtual sessions, Face Time and/or phone calls because it did not feel professional. I simply sold myself short. I have gotten excellent reviews and feedback, not only from my Zoom couples, but also from individual patients who use Zoom with me. You can search www.riverdaletherapy.com and read my reviews.
So many free phone consultations are given to potential patients who cannot afford to pay one cent out of their pocket, and I know that right away because I explain that I help patients with certain insurances but I do not have any way to be paid by Medicaid patients. I tell them how to find a Medicaid provider and there have been many Medicaid patients that like my style and come on an as needed basis. They may be making appointments because I do not rush them off the phone after hearing they cannot afford to pay anything out of pocket. I truly feel I give my patients one hundred percent of myself and they can call me until 10:00 P.M. if they need a question answered. People feel I am genuine and have positive and unconditional regard for each patient/couple. I also answer my business cell (917) 270-9595 late at night and when I am finishing paperwork for the day. Potential patients say: “I thought I would get a machine and I was planning to leave a message”. I always pick up the phone if it is possible. Last, but not least: My age affords me the luxury of knowing what it feels like to be in your shoes. The reason why I am a cut above the rest is because I have had my share of problems; and I sought out the best doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists that are also were a cut above the rest, and I go to them because they have the best reputation.
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