Today, I want to share with you two policy changes at Seeking Shalom, both of which should benefit the vast majority of our clients.

FIRST: LATE CANCELLATIONS AND NO SHOWS

Our policy has not always been the clearest to clients about what happens when you do not cancel an appointment within the required timeframe (at least twenty-four hours before an appointment during the day on a weekday or at least thirty-six hours before an evening or weekend appointment), especially for those who have a third party payor (such as insurance) paying part of their charges. As a result, we will be adopting (effective May 1, 2020) fixed late fees that will be the same regardless of how much you personally pay for your regular appointment.
- If you cancel less than three hours before the appointment or if you do not show for your appointment (your appointment could be considered a no show seven minutes into your appointment time), the late cancellation/no show fee will be $75.
- If you cancel more than three hours before your appointment but after the required timeframe (24 hours or 36 hours as discussed above), the late cancellation fee will be $35.
- For those in the Journey to Peace program, these fees will be $30 and $15 respectively.

If you have any questions about these changes, please speak with your clinician.

SECOND: VIDEO SESSIONS WITH CLINICIANS

Traditionally, most of our clinicians have not offered video-based sessions. This week, all of our clinicians received basic training in how to provide therapy and counseling using secure video platforms. This is not to change the standard way that we work with each of our clients, but to be prepared for needs that could arise in our current world climate.
Along with the US Surgeon General and many medical and public health officials, we understand that COVID-19 is a serious concern and that the spread of this infection will continue, at least over the short term. We are also aware that there is a lot of misinformation out there and that news reports may create higher fears than there should be. We encourage you to look to reputable sources (such as NYC Department of Health) for information about where things stand and about what you should do based on the latest scientific information. We also understand that times like this naturally make people worry and feel anxiety. Please feel free to talk with your clinician about these feelings. I encourage you not only because we are concerned about your mental health but the stress of anxiety can lower your general immune system and we would like to help you if we can.

We also want to make sure that you can continue to access your clinician should meeting in person not be possible. If you need to voluntarily isolate yourself ("quarantine yourself at home"), you can reach out to your clinician and schedule to meet with them through a video session. This may need to be scheduled at a different time as clinicians will generally conduct these sessions from a different location than where you usually see them. For those using insurance, these may or may not be covered by insurance and we can talk about how this can be handled. Your clinician will be able to go over the details with you when you are scheduling the session. The process is similar to talking with someone on Skype or Facetime but using a different platform that is more secure.

It is also possible that your clinician will have to voluntarily isolate themselves. In this case, rather than running the risk of infecting you, your clinician will offer to see people by video rather than in person. Similarly, if our office(s) had to close, we would let you know and offer the option of having video sessions.

Of course, it is possible that none of these conditions would become necessary, but we wanted to let you know how you can continue to get the care you might need from your clinician. In any case, this option will be there should they be needed and once we are able to things would go back to the normal way you are used to.

We are glad to be with each and every one of you on your journey to peace and wholeness.

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT
President and Clinical Director