Robin Furner, MFT Therapy FAQs
Will therapy be beneficial for me? How do I know what type of therapy to pursue?
There are many reasons why people decide to look for a therapist. In regard to individual therapy, I believe that most people who have a desire to make changes in their life, reduce symptoms like anxiety and depression and/or improve the quality of their relationships with others can benefit from therapy. I primarily work from a psychodynamic perspective and tend to focus on themes and patterns that emerge in the concerns that clients want to work on. A general goal of psychodynamic therapy is to help clients gain greater insight and awareness of underlying issues, themes and patterns that may be contributing to current symptoms and problems.
There are other types of therapy that are more structured, more supportive and/or more body-oriented. Other common types of therapy include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) and various types of existential, somatic, trauma-focused and client-centered therapies. CBT and DBT tend to be more structured psychotherapy treatments that may include things like teaching new coping skills to manage symptoms and homework assignments for clients to work on between sessions. Treatments such as somatic experiencing and EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing) are usually more trauma-focused and more body-focused.
There is research attesting to the effectiveness of many types of therapy. If your goal is to focus on symptom management, symptom reduction and/or behavioral change, you might want to start with a more structured form of therapy like DBT or CBT. If your goal is to understand more about yourself, gain insight into underlying issues and patterns, gain more freedom and flexibility in how you perceive yourself and others, then you might want to consider psychodynamic therapy. Sometimes, clients choose to combine approaches by engaging in individual psychodynamic therapy while also participating in a DBT group to work on emotional-regulation skills or taking a class on mindfulness to help manage anxiety symptoms.
I generally recommend that clients who are considering therapy spend some time thinking about what they want from therapy and do some reading about the different types of therapy. Many therapists have websites and it may be helpful to review the websites of a few different therapists. Therapists vary in terms of their experience, focus and how they conceptualize and treat client problems.
The following websites are good resources for finding therapists in the Oakland or east bay area:
Psychology Today therapist directory:
CAMFT (California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists), East Bay chapter:
Alameda County Psychological Association
What should I expect when starting therapy?
I generally provide a free phone consultation for all new prospective clients to ensure that my skills and expertise are a good match for the needs and goals of the client. All new clients need to sign a consent form to participate in therapy. I typically will also ask new clients to complete a new client assessment form and a few other informational forms when therapy is started. New client forms can be found on the "Forms" page of my website. I usually focus on assessment during the initial therapy session, understanding current concerns and therapy goals. I tend to be a bit more directive during the initial session with new clients. I typically encourage clients to begin most subsequent sessions with issues and concerns they would like to focus on. I generally expect that clients will attend sessions at least once per week and commit to attending therapy on a weekly basis, with the exception of occasional vacations/holidays. More information about the therapy process can be found on my "Office Policies and Consent for Treatment" form, which is available on the Forms page of my website:
Information about health insurance coverage for therapy:
Most health insurance plans cover individual therapy. Health plans vary when it comes to coverage for other types of therapy. Family therapy and parent-child dyadic therapy are often covered for children under the age of 18, when clinically indicated. It can be more challenging to obtain insurance coverage for couples therapy. This is because therapy generally needs to be a "medically necessary" treatment for a particular mental health diagnosis. It is not common for couples therapy to be considered a medically necessary treatment.
If you want your therapist to directly bill your health plan, it is best to contact your health plan and find out what the specific terms of your mental health coverage are. You might have co-pays, deductibles or other coverage limitations. Some health plans require an authorization for behavioral health services. Authorizations typically have an authorization number and/or a date range in which authorized services may be used (usually 6 months to 1 year).
Your health plan representative can provide referrals to therapists in their provider network who can directly bill your health plan. Some health plans will also provide partial reimbursement for "out of network" mental health services. PPO health plans typically have more expansive access to a variety of healthcare providers while HMO plans usually have a more restricted network of healthcare providers. Most health plans have websites that offer listings of therapists that are currently contracted with the insurance plan as behavioral health care providers.
Many clients seek out therapists that will directly bill their health insurance plans. Health plans, however, will generally require periodic documentation from your therapist about your mental health status and most require therapists to submit a mental health diagnosis to the insurance plan to justify the need for mental health treatment. Most health insurance plans require a mental health diagnosis code to be attached to each session that is billed. Many plans also conduct periodic audits of therapist records and they periodically review client progress to ensure that ongoing therapy remains medically necessary.
Some clients like to pursue therapy for personal growth reasons and they might not have a mental health diagnosis. These clients often will choose to pay for therapy on a fee for service basis.
Some clients like to use pre-tax accounts, such as Flexible Spending Accounts to pay for therapy and find there are financial and tax benefits to this. Many employers offer these kinds of pre-tax accounts, though employees usually have to choose to participate in these types of accounts. Pre-tax accounts typically have rules about what kind of health services are covered, so be sure to confirm that therapy is covered and what kind of receipts or documentation may be needed for reimbursement.
Many employers also offer Employee Assistance Plans (EAP) for employees. It is common for EAP plans to offer a limited number of therapy sessions.
What insurance plans do you accept? What is your fee?
I am currently a behavioral health provider with the following insurance plans: Magellan, Beacon Health Options, Value Options of California, Blue Shield PPO plans and Cigna. Kaiser members may be able to receive mental health services under the Magellan or Beacon plans, but generally need to receive an authorization for this.
I charge $125 per 50 minute therapy session. I charge $150 for the initial assessment session.
I usually send monthly invoices to clients with co-pays and deductibles and accept payment via check or cash. Kaiser members with authorizations through Magellan, Beacon or Value Options should be aware that Kaiser will directly bill clients for any deductibles or copays they might have with their particular health plan.
Office location & transit information:
My office is located in a brick and cream-colored building at the corner of Broadway and 40th St. Way in Oakland. There is a black iron gate and brick walkway leading up to the main waiting room. There is a locked gate outside of the main waiting room and you will need a gate code to open this. I provide the front gate code to new clients after scheduling an initial appointment.
There is usually parking available on local streets. Most local streets have a two hour parking limit. Most local commercial areas typically have metered parking while local residential streets do not. Parking can be harder to find on Monday and Tuesday mornings between 9 A.M. and 12 P.M., when most local streets receive street cleaning.
Please note that 40th St. Way runs parallel to 40th St. 40th St. Way is one-way near Broadway. I sometimes recommend that clients looking for parking drive by the office on Broadway, turn right on 41st, turn right on Howe and then right again on 40th St. Way. There are usually parking spots somewhere along that loop, especially on 40th St. Way, which does not receive much through traffic.
Drivers must turn right from 40th St. Way onto Broadway. Drivers on 40th and 40th St. Way are both able to turn right onto Broadway, so be careful when making a right turn there.
My office is about a 15 minute walk from the MacArthur BART station. Kaiser runs a shuttle from the MacArthur BART to nearby Kaiser medical offices. There are several AC Transit bus routes that run along Broadway and 40th. There is a bike-share station (Ford GoBike) across the street on Broadway at 40th. There are nearby bike racks on the street and people occasionally lock a bike to the fence along the brick walkway leading up to the waiting room.