Back to top

When Psychotherapy Isn't


I keep reading about how few psychiatrists provide psychotherapy, so it irks me when the ones that still do it talk about using those sessions for administrative activities like filling out forms, prior authorizations and writing letters -- and billing the entire session to third party payers as psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy does not take place every time a psychotherapist talks to or listens to a patient. Taking a patient's vital signs does not constitute psychotherapy. 

Little wonder that payers do not trust providers when they (fraudulently) seek reimbursement for psychotherapy that isn't.

If you provide psychotherapy, show that you value it as a treatment modality. Use the entire session for psychotherapy. If you so choose, charge the patient a reasonable fee for administrative activities.

If you are a patient, do not allow your psychotherapist to devote those precious sessions to administrative activities, even if they charge you a reasonable fee to do it on their own time. If the psychotherapist balks, find a new psychotherapist.