FAQs

My parent/friend is clearly distressed.  I think they need therapy, but they don’t seem to want it.  What can SPOP do to help?

Therapy at SPOP is entirely voluntary and we understand someone might be reluctant to engage due to cultural stigma against help-seeking, beliefs about privacy, or discomfort sharing emotional information with a stranger.  Most people in distress already have their own coping methods, and sometimes they find them effective.  If your parent speaks with our intake team and decides not to enroll in treatment, we can offer referrals to alternate services.  Please know that if you are experiencing caregiver distress and are over age 55, you may be eligible for treatment at SPOP.

What happens in psychotherapy sessions at SPOP?

Your clinician will talk with you about challenges in your life and help you use your strengths to cope better. They will ask questions and guide you to build more insights and may make suggestions about activities to try or alternate ways to look at an issue. Clients participate in the therapy process through dialogue, feedback, and taking small steps during the time they are not in session to make changes for the better.

How long will treatment last?

It depends. Some people use brief therapy (a few months) to help them adapt to a challenge. Some people need longer-term therapy (one year or more) to deal with ongoing issues. Duration of treatment is decided by the client and the clinician together, based on progress toward goals and effectiveness of treatment. Clients can choose to discontinue treatment at any time for any reason.

Can I get my medications at SPOP?

Incoming clients are evaluated by a psychiatric prescriber, who will work with you to determine whether psychotropic medication (such as an anti-depressant) might be helpful. Our prescribers are geriatric specialists and take cautious care to ascertain the proper medication type and dosage for the individual. Many of our clients find that psychotropic medications have led to substantial improvement in their quality of life. Medication is typically warranted only if symptoms are moderate or severe. SPOP does not routinely prescribe medications outside of psychiatric purposes; please see your primary care provider or medical specialists for those medication needs.

Does SPOP provide telehealth?

Yes. SPOP currently offers telehealth appointments for individual and group therapy, psychiatric evaluations, and medication services.  We use a HIPAA-compliant Zoom (video) platform that you can access using a smartphone or internet connection with a tablet, or a computer with a camera and microphone.   We provide coaching and ongoing support in technology for telehealth.

Will my insurance cover therapy?

SPOP is in-network with multiple insurance plans and providers, including Medicare, Medicaid and many commercial products.  Our intake team will review your insurance plan to determine whether it covers behavioral health and if there is any client responsibility for co-payment.  You can also call the Member Services phone number on the back of your insurance card to inquire about coverage of behavioral health services.

How do you match clients with therapists?

Clients are matched to therapists based on several factors, including the client’s preferred service location and language, along with clinician availability and specialization. The intake team conducts a comprehensive interview and assessment, which informs your match. Our intake specialists also serve as an interface between you and your therapist as you get started and provide extra support as you learn how to navigate SPOP services.

My loved one recently died and I’m struggling. Do you have bereavement groups?

Yes, we offer nonsectarian bereavement support for adults of all ages.  Groups run in ten-week cycles and we have separate groups for partner/spousal loss and a non-partner loss.  All groups are facilitated by trained volunteers who have experienced bereavement and are supervised by a clinical social worker.  Our Director of Bereavement Support interviews all participants in advance to determine if our program meets their needs. 

Do you offer services to people with memory impairment?

No.  We provide insight-oriented therapy that requires clients to follow up on assignments and remember the discussion from one session to the next. If an existing client begins to experience mild cognitive decline, we will provide treatment as long as they can benefit from the service.  If a client begins to experience moderate or severe cognitive decline, SPOP will work with the client and their support system to find alternate services.

What type of certification and training do the therapists have?

Our clinicians are generally licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), with a graduate degree in social work and a minimum of three years post-graduate supervised clinical experience; many have decades of experience working at the intersection of aging and mental health.  All clinicians are trained in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, working with Bereavement and Loss, Resolving Trauma, and Responding to Chronic Pain. Several of our clinicians have post-graduate training in various specializations, such as psychoanalysis, narrative therapy, mindfulness practice, and family systems.

My loved one is in urgent need of services, is SPOP an appropriate place to refer them to?

If someone is in immediate psychiatric crisis, such as is actively suicidal or experiencing florid psychosis, they should be evaluated in a setting that can provide emergency services, such as a psychiatric emergency room or other hospital-based services (activated through 911 or walk-in).  If someone is not at imminent risk of danger or harm to themselves or to someone else, but is in serious distress and needs to speak to a professional right away, they should contact a 24/7 warmline such as 888-NYC-WELL.  If someone is in distress and is able to move through an intake process that takes place over several days to several weeks, SPOP is an appropriate referral.