Client FAQ

Preparing for Therapy

How do I select a therapist?

Visit our Find a Therapist page to learn more about each of our therapists, read about their experience and select from a broad range of specializations. If you already have the name of a Family Institute staff member who you would like to see, you may call or email that therapist directly to arrange an appointment.

 
Since you are part of Northwestern, does anyone in the University have access to my records?

No, The Family Institute is an independent affiliate of Northwestern. Our electronic records system is not linked to the University, and even within our own organization, your records cannot be seen by anyone except your therapist and his or her supervisor (if your therapist works under supervision). Otherwise, your records are only shared when you give written permission to do so.

 
I am concerned about my marriage. Should I get an appointment for both of us, or should I come in myself?

If you and your partner are in agreement about seeking couples counseling, make an appointment for both of you to meet with a couples counselor.

If your partner resists coming in, consider making an appointment to come in by yourself and speak with a couples counselor about what you can do to encourage your partner’s participation.

Visit our Find a Therapist [Link] page to learn more about each of our therapists, read about their experience and select from a broad range of specializations. If you already have the name of a Family Institute staff member who you would like to see, you may call or email that therapist directly to arrange an appointment.

 
If I need medication, can I receive it through The Family Institute?

The Family Institute has several consulting psychiatrists who can see you at one of our offices and can prescribe and monitor your use of medications, if that’s part of your care program.

 
How do I know if therapy is right for me?

If you feel uncomfortable about any important relationship in your life, whether it is with a partner, child, parent or sibling, seeking counseling may be your best chance to make effective changes.

If you have trouble managing your own feelings, or if you are too often angry, sad or anxious, you may be suffering from a problem that counseling could significantly improve.

If you know what you should do to improve your life, but cannot get yourself to make the change, counseling may help you get over the hurdle that is in your way.

 
I am concerned about my child, but he/she won’t come to therapy. Does it make sense for me to come in alone?

Many therapists who work with children and adolescents routinely meet with parents alone for the first meeting, so don’t let your child’s refusal stand in your way of making an initial appointment. Your therapist will know how to guide you in encouraging your child to come in, and in many cases can be of help even when a son or daughter refuses to participate.

Visit our Find a Therapist page to learn more about each of our therapists, read about their experience and select from a broad range of specializations. If you already have the name of a Family Institute staff member who you would like to see, you may call or email that therapist directly to arrange an appointment.

 
Is all therapy the same? How do I know what type of therapy will be best for me?

Our clinicians are trained to recognize the specific needs of all of our clients. We take your individual needs into account when creating a treatment plan, ensuring that we treat the whole person in a safe, supportive environment.

We offer a wide array of services. Visit our Find a Therapist page to learn more about each of our therapists, read about their experience and select from a broad range of specializations. If you already have the name of a Family Institute staff member who you would like to see, you may call or email that therapist directly to arrange an appointment.

 
How many therapy sessions will I need?

What determines the course of your care is the nature of your problem and the approach your therapist takes. The number of appointments is hard to predict at the outset, but is certainly something that you’ll have a voice in determining. Let your therapist know your thoughts about this right from the start.

 
Do I need a referral to see a therapist at The Family Institute?

Many insurance companies require referrals from a primary care physician to see a specialist, including a mental health professional (therapist). Ask your insurance company if a referral is necessary before your first session.

 
Can I see any of the therapists at the Institute?

You can see any of our therapists but please note that not all therapists accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Please visit our Staff Search page to find all therapists who accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance.

 
How much does a session cost?

Each therapist sets their own fee. Be sure to discuss fees with your therapist during your initial call.

Our Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic uses a sliding-fee scale that gives clients of all income levels access to our high-quality care, with fees starting at as little as $5. Because clients pay what they can afford, the Clinic can be a valuable resource for those who are unemployed or do not have adequate health insurance. For more information, visit our Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic webpage.

When can I schedule an appointment?

Appointments are available Monday through Friday between 8 am and 9 pm, and Saturday between 8 am and 2 pm, in each of our four locations (Evanston, downtown Chicago, Northbrook, LaGrange Park), depending on each therapist’s schedule.

 
Where is The Family Institute located?

We have four different offices servicing the Chicagoland area:

 

 

Choosing a Therapist

What if I am not comfortable with my therapist?

The fit between you and your therapist is of the utmost importance. Initial discomfort with the therapy process is natural for many people, and not necessarily a sign of a poor therapist-client fit. If, after one or two sessions with your therapist, you find yourself uncomfortable for any reason, consider speaking to your therapist about what you’re feeling. Your therapist may be able to help you understand the source of your discomfort, and help you move past it.

Alternatively, if you prefer not to discuss it with the therapist, feel free to contact our Registration Staff and request an appointment with someone else.

The Registration Staff can be reached at 847-733-4300, ext. 263.

 
I am a returning client. Can I work with a different therapist?

Yes, new and returning clients will need to go through our registration process again. Additionally, you are under no obligation to work with the same therapist whom you saw previously. Simply call us, ask to speak with a member of our Registration Staff, and request an appointment with someone new.

Registration can be reached at 847-733-4300, ext. 263.

 

 

Making an Appointment

When can I schedule an appointment?

Appointments are available Monday through Friday between 8 am and 9 pm, and Saturday between 8 am and 2 pm, in each of our four locations (Evanston, downtown Chicago, Northbrook, LaGrange Park), depending on each therapist’s schedule.

 
What happens if I miss an appointment?

We ask that you give your therapist at least 24 hours notice when changing or canceling an appointment, to avoid being charged for that time.

 
Where is The Family Institute located?

We have four different offices servicing the Chicagoland area:

 
How do I make an appointment at The Family Institute?

Call 847-733-4300 ext. 263 to get to our Registration department. A Client Services Representative will conduct a 20-30 minute initial intake to gather basic demographic information on all family members participating in therapy, insurance information (if applicable) and ask a brief clinical questionnaire of the caller.

If you have already found someone from our Find a Therapist search, be sure to tell the Client Services Representative when you call. You can also contact that therapist directly by following the telephone prompts when you call.

 
How do I select a therapist?

Visit our Find a Therapist page to learn more about each of our therapists, read about their experience and select from a broad range of specializations. If you already have the name of a Family Institute staff member who you would like to see, you may call or email that therapist directly to arrange an appointment.

 

 

Payment

I have to cancel my session. Will I be charged?

We request 24 hour notice for a cancellation. No-shows and less than 24 hour notice can result in a full-fee charge for a session. This fee is not covered by insurance. Clients are responsible for calling their therapist to cancel. It is solely up to the therapist to agree to a no fee no-show or cancellation less than 24 hours before an appointment. Please refer to the Service Agreement for more information.

I pay by credit card each session. Can my card be charged automatically?

Yes. We can keep your card on file. Fill out our Card on File Agreement and give it to your therapist.

 
Do you accept online payments?

We currently do not accept online payments. You can pay directly from your bank account, however. Contact the Billing Department for more information.

 
I am having a hard time paying my therapist’s fee. Can that fee be reduced?

Speak with your therapist directly about fee reductions.

 
I have a balance on my account. Who do I call?

Please call our Billing Department at 847-733-4300, ext. 262 for any questions about your balance. We will work with you to allow you to continue therapy.

 
I haven’t received a statement in months.

You only receive a statement if you have a balance. You will not receive a statement if your account is pending with insurance, or if you are paid in full.

 
How much does a session cost?

Each therapist sets their own fee. Be sure to discuss fees with your therapist during your initial call.

Our Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic uses a sliding-fee scale that gives clients of all income levels access to our high-quality care, with fees starting at as little as $5. Because clients pay what they can afford, the Clinic can be a valuable resource for those who are unemployed or do not have adequate health insurance. For more information, visit our Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic webpage.

 

Insurance

Can I use my health insurance?

Most Family Institute therapists are participating providers with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Please note: Not all Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO plans recognize all practitioners. Be sure to contact your insurance provider before your first session. If your therapist is in-network and you choose to use your Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, our billing department will handle all the insurance paperwork for you.

If your therapist is not a participating provider, or if you are a member of another health plan, your therapist will provide you with a “super bill” that can be submitted to your plan to obtain out-of-network reimbursement, where applicable.

 
What insurance does The Family Institute accept?

The Family Institute accepts Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO and Medicare. We do not accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield HMO and Medicaid. It is the responsibility of the client to contact their insurance company about their insurance policy. The Institute does not know co-pays or specifics of coverage.

 
What do I ask my insurance company when I call them?

Download our insurance worksheet to ensure you ask your insurance company the right questions and get the information needed for your first session. Be sure to also ask them what types of therapy are covered in your policy (individual, family, couple).

 
Do I need any pre-approval from my insurance to see a therapist at The Family Institute?

Call your insurance provider and ask them if you need pre-approval before your first session and subsequent sessions. Be sure to also ask if there is a limit to the number of sessions that can be billed to your insurance.

 
Do I have to pay a co-pay?

You are responsible for any co-pays your insurance requires. Please contact your insurance to find out if you pay a co-pay and the amount of your co-pay.

 
How are my sessions billed to my insurance?

The Family Institute can submit your claims electronically. Please fill out the Request for Electronic Claim Submission form and bring it to your first session. If you’d rather submit your claims yourself, our Billing Department can provide you with the proper paperwork or submit the encounter form your therapist will provide you at every session.

 
I have health insurance through my employer — will they know I’m receiving therapy?

Federal private health care laws prohibit your employer from obtaining any information about your participation in therapy without your written permission.

 
My insurance coverage is minimal or nonexistent for family, couples, or individual therapy. What can I do?

Call The Family Institute to discuss your situation, as there may be affordable care options for you.

Our sliding-fee scale gives clients of all income levels access to our high-quality care, with fees starting at as little as $5 (the range is $5-$75, with the average being $12). Because clients pay what they can afford, the Clinic can be a valuable resource for those who are unemployed or do not have adequate health insurance. For more information, visit our Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic webpage.

 
I have Medicare. Can I still bill Blue Cross/Blue Shield?

If Medicare is your primary provider, you must use Medicare and see a therapist who accepts Medicare. If you have a secondary policy that goes with Medicare we will need that information as well.

 
Do you accept Medicaid?

The Family Institute does not accept Medicaid.

 
When does my deductible start over?

Insurance companies start deductibles over in January.

 

 

The Family Institute

How do I know if I am receiving quality care?

The Family Institute is one of the nation’s pre-eminent organizations in the field of family, couple and individual counseling. We are committed to providing high-quality, state-of-the-art care, and invite only mental health professionals who we believe can operate at the highest standard of excellence onto our staff.

 
What is the Family Institute’s Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic?

At the Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, clients pay what they can afford.

Our sliding-fee scale gives clients of all income levels access to our high-quality care, with fees starting at as little as $5 (the range is $5-$75, with the average being $12). Because clients pay what they can afford, the Clinic can be a valuable resource for those who are unemployed or do not have adequate health insurance.

For more information, see the Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic webpage.

Where is The Family Institute located?

We have four different offices servicing the Chicagoland area:

 

 

Privacy

Are my therapy sessions and personal records confidential?

Your privacy is important to us, and we carefully adhere to all state and federal laws. Our therapists keep confidential records of your sessions and, with a few exceptions required under the law, those records are never shared with anyone outside of The Family Institute unless we have your written permission.

Please know some health care plans require the submission of treatment plans and progress reports prior to authorizing payment for treatment.