There’s growing to do!
I realize now that I made all these changes but never officially blogged about them on this blog, my first, and only, private practice blog. A few posts ago, I let you know that I had hired an awesome psychologist, Dr. Camilla Williams around the time that my psychological assistant, Dr. Sarah Jacobs-Paul became licensed herself and left to rock the world under her own wing. I was slowly and not so slowly moving into living my dream, the owner/founder/beginner-er of a group practice, run by yours truly, and focused on providing stellar care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, pansexual, and/or trans people and those who love them. Well, my interest in forming a group practice has made me realize that I needed a new website that was group focused so I created one with the help of friends, family, colleagues, and the lovelies at Squarespace. And there is a blog there. I post on their more often. Because I want people to know about Camilla’s specialties too because while we both share a love of providing excellent care to LGBTQIQAP-identified people and those who love them, we have different foci (or focuses) and I want potential clients to get to know her too.
I’ve found though that I’ve missed sharing on this blog too so I wanted to come back and let you know that while I’ll be updating that blog more frequently, I’ll still try and come back here too. It’s good for me to let you out there know that even as I start building a healthy and thriving group practice, that
my core values of the/my company stay the same:
honoring diversity, open mindedness, and kindness are still at the forefront of my mind as are
education, valuing LGBTQIQAP people’s voices,
and providing a stable, caring, and thoughtful place for clients to do deep and vulnerable work on their inner lives with their therapist.
We remain closed on Shabbat at this time, meaning no appointments on Friday evenings or Saturdays and no appointments (at least for me) on major Jewish holidays.
NEWISH STAFF MEMBER ALERT:
We have also added on another staff member since my last post way back in 2017. (Ack, has it really been that long?!) Her name is Dr. Melissa James. While she has a doctorate, a Ph.D. officially, she is not a psychologist. She is actually an ethicist, sociologist, and educator by training and experience. Her doctorate is in Ethics and Social Theory. She has kindly and excitedly accepted a position with Waves as our part-time Director of Operations (or DOO). We are working together to figure out what that role fully entails. Suffice to say, she is helping us (mostly me, honestly) create systems that allow Waves to run more smoothly and more predictably and allow for a better experience for anyone who comes in contact with Waves. My hope is that this will mean that if there is a glitch in the system, that our DOO will create a system to find the problem. I’m not trying to create a big bureaucracy, really. I’m trying to create a business that can expand slowly over time and be a fun and good one with which to interact.
An example: Suppose you don’t get a text about an upcoming appointment, perhaps our DOO will have a list of weekly appointments as a backup so even if our electronic health record decides to take a nap (so to speak), when you email to check in about your appointment time and date, we will be able to tell you super quickly where you are on the schedule without having it become a big process. And of course, all would be kept securely and updated easily. That would be fabulous!
WILL THERE BE OTHER STAFF MEMBERS DR. ABI?
The short answer: I hope so! I hope that we will eventually (hopefully, sooner than that) hire on more psychologists and other licensed providers of mental health services to LGBTQIQAP - identified individuals and those who love them. The potential person needs to want to be an employee rather than have my job and that can be hard to find. And then, I only want to work with people who could happily call themselves feminists. I’m happy to talk about the limitations of feminism and feminist psychological theory. I’m not happy to debate the need for feminism. And then, I want someone who thinks about people from an intersectional standpoint, from many different lenses.
And before I spend the rest of this post ranting about my ideal next hire, let’s say quickly that they would be someone determined and excited about working hard to do the best job that they could do in prioritizing LGBTQIQAP - mental health care, someone who is knowledgeable and affirming, grounded, kind, fat-friendly, used to talking about social justice, kink - affirming, bdsm - affirming, sex worker affirming, aok with having a vegetarian kitchen at the office, and can keep the office space scent minimal. And someone who is PASSIONATE about supporting LGBTQIQAP identified people. Super duper added bonus is if they identify as queer and/or trans, Jewish and/ or person of color, and/or could offer services in a language in addition to English like Spanish or maybe even Hebrew or Arabic. If you know someone like that, please do send ‘em my way. I’m best reached at email@example.com I would love to meet them!
WE NIXED THE COFFEE (WELL, MOST OF IT)
To get to other growth, means we needed to scale back a bit in areas we found weren’t working so well. At first, the coffee machine got bigger as we wanted clients to have a consistent coffee experience, then, as I tasted the coffee, I realized that it was okay, but not amazing coffee and didn’t want to offer a subpar brew to you all. Plus, I hated the fact that the k-cups were not as recyclable as I thought they were at first. Sadness. And the only coffee I liked drinking from them was super expensive and not even fair trade. It didn’t fit with my value system, so I let go of the machine and went instead for Trader Joe packets of coffee. While those are still laying about, I’m finding that most people are opting for the tea choices and so I’ve decided to focus more on the tea than on over-processed coffee product. I try to only have organic, fair trade, and more local than not brands of tea out there. I have my favorites, some classics, and most of them are caffeine free. It also stopped fitting with my values to offer a lot of caffeinated options since caffeine can impact one’s health negatively (see your medical doctor for more information about this; it’s out of my scope of practice), so I wanted to offer more options that are decaf, or non caf. If you are on blood thinners, please note that I have very few green tea options out there, however they are sprinkled in so please take a second look to see if that tea and you will work out well. I’ve added new sugar options and will keep the dairy free, vegan “creamer” for those who need that flair. I dream of having reusable cups but since it is hard to add in finding the time to wash those cups, I’m still going with using paper and plastic cups for now.
***I’m also letting go of my info at doctorabi.com email address and as of Feb 1st, 2019 (hopefully), I will be switching all mail to the group’s main email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do contact me there. I will be happy to receive all emails there.***
THIS IS A BIG ONE! I will be saying goodbye to being an in network provider of health insurance plans. I have already sent my certified mail goodbye notes to Aetna and Cigna and will soon try to leave Medicare as well. I will stay as an Out of Network provider for TRICARE at this present time, although I hope to fully leave them as well relatively soon.
BUT WHY DR. ABI? INSURANCE ROCKS!
I am leaving insurance panels because I am not paid enough, quickly enough, and without lots of additional work on my part to get paid. By lots of additional work I mean that sometimes, I will spend hours calling insurance plans to get proper authorization numbers only to have those not work and then, have to outsource to billing companies for their help too, only to sometimes get paid. It really stinks and does not work for me. This is my only business and I need to get paid (#capitalism) to survive. I don’t want to work hours and hours fighting a system to get one appointment covered at way less than my going rate only to have to turn back and do that again with the next appointment.
It takes too much time away from working with people and helping people become their best and happiest selves, which was the whole reason I wanted to be a psychologist in the first place.
While some clinicians out there are fabulous with insurance companies, this is not my strength so I am taking this moment to see this difference, acknowledge it, appreciate it, and move to what will make me and my business stronger.
Therefore, I am letting go of insurance companies and freeing up time to see more clients. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned how to better work with insurance companies, outside billers, and the medical coding system. I am grateful to have met wonderful people and to help some utilize their benefits.
DOES THIS MEAN YOU WON’T HELP ME USE MY INSURANCE AT ALL?
Not really but sort of. You see, I won’t be directly billing insurance for anyone anymore (except for TRICARE, until I am off of their panel too). I am more than happy to help clients utilize any out of network benefits that they may have. They must, however, pay me first and then, do the leg work (or the arm work or the work work) to get paid back by their own insurance company. The electronic health system I currently use, works with getbetter.co to make getting these out of network benefits even easier than before. Getbetter.co spends their time and resources fighting to get clients’ money back from your insurance companies. They do take a 10% cut if they can get you money but no money if they can’t.
I am happy to provide clients with a superbill if they want to submit the receipts either through getbetter.co or on your own to your insurance company or for your records or your taxes. Most of the time, I will happily send these through the electronic health care portal but I can also send them through encrypted email as well.
DR. ABI and DR. CAMILLA’S RATES
About a month or so ago, I increased my private pay rates to $230 per a 45 minute session. Dr. Camilla’s rate is $225 per session. At this rate, I can see clients and be able to be fully present with each of them, while living here in California. My rate and Camilla’s rate will change with time, but for now, these are our rates. Since my session fees are the bulk of how I bring in money to the company, I need to make sure that my fees help me live the life I want with my family. With this session fee, I hope to do just that. Yay!!
I will continue to provide a couple of low fee spots for clients through agreements with other community organizations, such as the San Diego LGBT Community Center and Open Path Collective. These slots are full right now.
Another big change I hope to make will also be one of those down the road changes (so to speak). In about 8 months, when my lease is up at our current suite in Poway, we will be leaving the space. I envision us moving to a smaller space, perhaps sharing a suite with another practice or in a suite of our own in Poway or thereabouts. I intend to practice out of the Poway space 1 day a week with Camilla being there on at least 2 days. The other days of the week, I plan to spend in the La Mesa, CA area and will be actively looking for a small office space in that neck of the woods. My commute now, while beautiful, is, at times, far too long for me. I find it painful to be stuck in traffic when I could be spending the time with my family so I am looking for places closer to our home to set up shop. It’s been harder than I thought it would be to find an accessible office space out here but I am determined to find a good space that fits my values, with lots of light and parking and close to the freeway. I do hope that moving more south and east will mean that I can open up more times to meet with potential clients and colleagues alike as I will have more time spent out of my car. I’ll still be able to provide telemental health encrypted video therapy to those who are ill and possibly contagious and still want to meet or those others but will be able to do so from an office hopefully 15 minutes away instead of upwards of 1.5 hours in traffic.
I have a happy announcement. I was invited to be a keynote speaker for the first Diversity in Parenting Conference. WHAT?!!! I know. I’m so excited!!! Super let’s save the world, I have my cape, excited! Being a keynote is a big deal. It’s like the people that get others inspired and connected to the topic at hand. For more information on what a keynote is please see this link (https://www.quora.com/Why-do-events-name-their-presentations-keynotes?ref=inc&rel_pos=3 ) . My topic is on queer and trans parenting. The conference is in Anaheim, CA and looks to be amazing. There will be 40+ diverse speakers presenting on topics related to being a parent. The topics look really fantastic and I can’t wait to go and hear people speak let alone get to present as well.
Me, Dr. Abi
as a KEYNOTE! WHOOHOOO!
Here are some of the topics and presenters at the conference:
● Adoption in the LGBT family
● Latinx parenting and dispelling cultural stereotypes
● Lessons on parenting learned from martial arts
● Feminism and its influence on parenting
● Exploring the ways perinatal mental health can impact a family
● Autism in the African-American community
● Cultural competency in the eating disorder world
● How technology has influenced and impacted families
You can totally go to the conference too, ya know? Here’s the link for the early bird ticket price. I think it’s a really good deal for what you can learn and honestly, I think it’s really important to have a lot of us people there who believe that it is our voices whose voices need to be heard.
It will surely be fantastic. The organizer is this amazing social worker, Mercedes Samuido, LCSW who is a bestselling author and parent coach and she is great, and I mean great, with a capital G about details and thoughtful about parenting and oh so fantastic at inspiring people to feel empowered about being good parents for their kiddos. Plus, she’s not willing to settle for a bunch of white, heterosexual, cisgender people on stage. She wants the voices of the rest of us.
I am honored to be able to share my voice as a queer and trans-y mom of a wonderful kiddo. This journey of getting to parenthood and being a parent is hard and more fun than I could ever have imagined and I’ve been dreaming of having children my whole life. Combine me with lots of research, clinical knowledge, and a heck of a lot of passion for the topic of supporting the care of queer and trans parents and my keynote is going to be a lot of fun! I hope, hope that I will see you there. If for nothing else, then to say with your presence that you also believe that our voices matter.
Here are those pictures and that link!
Please do be in touch for clinical care, resources, to do trainings, to share with me a potential fabulous employee, or to say hi. I can best be reached at email@example.com or you can set up a clinical appointment right here
Dr. Abigail Weissman
Psychologist, Waves, A Psychological Corporation
Keynote speaker, Diversity in Parenting Conference, Anaheim, CA 2019