November 1st, 2014

Electronic tools can enhance practice

By Phyllis Hanlon

Technology has undoubtedly changed the way the world does business. For psychologists, electronic tools can open up a new realm, enabling them to reach more patients regardless of geographic location or diagnosis. Before engaging in telepsychology, however, practitioners need to understand the issue of licensing, security and privacy and reimbursement. Ben Johnson, Ph.D., ABPP, clinical assistant professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and clinical psychologist and director of RICBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Coaching, conducts some of his therapy sessions via telephone, which he says allows the practitioner to communicate consistently and helps keep the client [More]

November 1st, 2014

Denials of 60-minute session payments at issue

By Janine Weisman

The middle-aged patient was terrified of having blood drawn when the need to undergo medical tests to address a medical problem led to a late 2013 office visit with psychologist Julie G. Breskin, Ph.D. Breskin, who practices in Salem, Mass., treated this individual for a simple phobia in two 60-minute sessions and billed insurance carrier Optum by United Behavioral Health using CPT code 90837. Providers use this code to indicate a 60-minute psychotherapy session with a patient and/or family member. Breskin says she did not seek pre-authorization. For the first visit, Breskin conducted an evaluation, took a history, did some psychoeducation [More]

November 1st, 2014

Butler Hospital’s admissions rise

By Janine Weisman

The daily inpatient census at Providence’s Butler Hospital increased 14 percent in August 2014 over August 2013, creating what Rhode Island’s only private psychiatric hospital is calling “unprecedented” demand for mental health care. And the rising demand continued as the average number of inpatients went from 175 in August to more than 180 in September. The August 2013 average inpatient census was about 153. “The fall tends to be a somewhat slower time for us and as you can see, that is not happening so we are in historically new territory at this point,” says Butler Hospital Acting President and [More]

November 1st, 2014

MassHealth woes could be resolved soon

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The nightmare may soon be over for some Massachusetts psychologists and their clients who were placed on a temporary insurance plan that did not cover all their therapy needs. Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state’s online health insurance exchange Web site, was not functioning for new enrollees for subsidized health insurance. The state responded by placing some 31,000 people on a temporary plan until the site could be made operational. The fix, meant to ensure a smooth continuation of coverage for these Massachusetts residents, instead left a gap that the Massachusetts Psychological Association has been fighting to [More]

November 1st, 2014

Program assesses danger in domestic violence calls

By Rivkela Brodsky

Connecticut averages between 12 and 15 domestic violence homicides each year, says Joe Froehlich, director of law enforcement services at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “which is in our estimate 12 or 15 too many.” That is why the coalition received grant money in 2012 to try out a program designed to give police officers responding to a domestic violence call a way to assess the danger a victim might be in and connect them to available services. Originally, 14 police departments and eight domestic violence organizations were trained in the Lethality Assessment Program. That has now expanded to [More]

November 1st, 2014

N.H. establishes domestic violence as distinct crime

By Pamela Berard

Advocates in New Hampshire say a new state law may help to better identify and stop offenders of domestic violence. “Joshua’s Law” – which goes into effect Jan. 1 and was named after a 9-year-old who was murdered by his father during a supervised visitation session – establishes domestic violence as a distinct crime (N.H. was one of more than a dozen states without such classification). While the law carries no enhanced penalties, advocates say that by labeling crimes like assaults or stalking with the domestic violence designation, law enforcement and the judicial system may more easily be able to [More]

November 1st, 2014

Vermont and Conn. launch Web sites as resources

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Recognizing that the Internet has become a first point of contact for many people looking to access mental health care information, the states of Vermont and Connecticut each recently announced the launch of Web sites aimed at creating greater access to information, discussion forums, basic advice and contact or hotline numbers. In Vermont, the Center for Health and Learning has partnered with the Vermont Department of Mental Health in developing a site geared toward suicide prevention. The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VSPC), was recently created as a state-wide resource designed to support prevention efforts and assist communities in implementing suicide [More]

November 1st, 2014

Walden Behavioral Care opens new facility in Peabody

By Howard Newman

Because of an increasing demand for treatment of eating disorders in Boston’s North Shore area, Walden Behavioral Care, LLC has opened a new clinic in Peabody, Mass. Walden Behavioral Care, is a private psychiatric hospital based in Waltham, Mass., and includes satellite facilities in Braintree, Worcester and Northampton, Mass., as well as South Windsor, Conn. Serving patients in New England and New York, the regional facility provides inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment for eating disorders. Full-time hospitalization and 24-hour care are available in the Waltham facility. Paula Vass, LICSW, senior vice president of clinical operations at Walden [More]

November 1st, 2014

Creating new divisions: a lengthy process

By Phyllis Hanlon

From time to time, a group of psychologists lobbies to create a new division that reflects an unaddressed niche area in the profession. The process from concept to reality is time-consuming and labor intensive and requires determination and patience. Sarah Jordan, director, Division Services, Governance Affairs at the American Psychological Association, estimates that she receives three inquiries annually. “But many do not follow through and send in a letter of intent. There have been five divisions in formation that have sent in a letter of intent since 2006,” she says, noting that the last division established was Trauma Psychology eight [More]

November 1st, 2014

Billboards, initiative promote conversations about mental health

By Susan Gonsalves

Massachusetts State Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) notes that it is common to see electronic signs and other notices advertising the availability of flu shots at drug stores while the availability of mental health help is not similarly displayed. That’s now beginning to change. Seventy electronic billboards on Massachusetts roadways are sending a message: “Good Mental Health. It all starts with a conversation.” The billboard campaign is just one feature of a Department of Mental Health initiative started about a year ago called Community Conversations. It’s is a national movement first launched by President Obama. The purpose of the program is [More]

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