Practice Information

Dr. Schermerhorn holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda, CA, a doctoral program accredited by the American Psychological Association. She has been licensed by the state of Washington (license number 2398) since January 2000.

Dr. Schermerhorn provides psychotherapy for adults and adolescents. In adults she treat a variety of difficulties including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and stress. She treats adolescents who have depression, anxiety, separation problems and behavior issues. In order to better understand and treat these issues, she uses psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and play therapy perspectives. Adolescents have rights to confidentiality, but input from parents is generally encouraged and welcomed.

Before going into solo practice, Dr. Schermerhorn was part of a group psychotherapy practice. Prior to private practice, her professional experience included positions at a grade school providing counseling for children grades 3 through 6, an out-patient clinic specializing in domestic violence, a walk-in crisis clinic, and the adolescent psychiatric unit of a large urban hospital.

People outside the mental health professions are often unaware of the differences between the designations psychologist, psychiatrist, and social worker, and the more generic terms counselor or therapist. The differences are significant, so read this section if you are not already familiar with the particular professions and titles.

A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology (a PhD, EdD, or PsyD), requiring approximately six years of formal education and training beyond a four year college degree. Clinical and counseling psychologists have had intensive instruction in the practice of psychotherapy and in the psychological underpinnings of human behavior. Psychologists are licensed by the State. They do not prescribe medications. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) and has specialized training in the biological bases of behavior. Some psychiatrists do provide psychotherapy and all can prescribe medications. Psychiatrists are licensed by the State. A social worker has a master's degree in social work (MSW, or LCSW when licensed), requiring three years of formal education and training beyond a four year college degree. Finally, the terms counselor, therapist, and psychotherapist are non-specific and can refer to all persons certified or registered by the State. Such persons may have training ranging from a master's degree in psychology (a two-year graduate degree, certified) to little or no formal training whatsoever (registered).

Informally, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers are often also referred to by the non-specific terms. However, it is unethical and illegal for someone without the required training and licensure to refer to themselves by one of the more specific titles.

Your therapy begins with an assessment interview, during which your psychologist will gather background information in order to fully understand the difficulties you are experiencing. Your initial interview session will last 60 minutes.

Typically, therapy sessions following the assessment session are scheduled weekly. Each regular therapy session lasts either 45 or 60 minutes. Keep in mind, however, that the frequency of your therapy sessions will depend on the nature of your issues, the urgency of your situation, and your own goals. The exact structure of your therapy will always be a matter you decide jointly with your psychologist, who will make recommendations to you based on his or her understanding of your current situation.

Dr. Schermerhorn is a member of the Washington State Psychological Association. She adheres to the ethical code as established by the American Psychological Association, and the professional standards as described in the Washington State Psychology Licensing Laws (RCW 18.83, 18.130, and WAC 308-122). If you have any concerns about the treatment you receive, please discuss them with your psychologist. If she fails to respond to your satisfaction, you have the right to register a complaint with the Department of Health, Washington State Examining Board of Psychology, PO Box 47868, Olympia, WA 98504, (253) 753-2147. You may also register a complaint to the Ethics Committee of the Washington State Psychological Association at (206) 363-9772.

You may leave a voice mail message for your psychologist at any time by calling the office at (425) 882-1616. Listen carefully to the recorded messages, since there will be days of the week when I will not be in the office. Calls received on off days, or received on business days after 5 pm, will be returned on the next business day. Messages are checked frequently on business days and every effort will be made to return your call at the earliest possible opportunity. You may also contact your psychologist by email, but please use this for general questions and not for the exchange of clinical information.

If your call concerns a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1, or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

If you experience a non-life-threatening but urgent situation, and would like to speak with your psychologist before your next session, leave a voicemail for your psychologist stating the nature of your call: Dial (425) 882-1616. Dr Schermerhorn checks voicemail several times a day and will call you back as soon as possible. However, if you need to speak with someone before I am able to return your call, dial (206) 461-3222 for the 24-hour Crisis Clinic.

When Dr. Schermerhorn is out of town, she will check her voice mail and will return your call if needed. If she is in a place where cell phone coverage is unavailable, she will have another therapist who will be on call for her.

As a client receiving the services of a licensed psychologist, you have a number of rights. You have the right to full information about your psychologist's training, qualifications, and treatment philosophy, as well as an explanation of the fees for services you are receiving. You have the right to ask questions about your therapy, to refuse any course of treatment suggested by your psychologist, and to terminate therapy at any time, without penalty. You have the right to request access to your treatment records and to request a copy of those records or to request to correct those records. You also have the right to request in writing that no treatment records be maintained. You have the right to have your psychologist release appropriate information from your treatment records to another entity, provided you sign a release of information. You have the right to discuss your treatment with anyone you choose.

 

You have the responsibility to choose a therapist you feel is a good fit for you and for the issues that brought you into therapy. You have the right to change therapists. See the section on confidentiality for limits insurance and managed care companies may place on your rights as a client.

With the few legal exceptions described below, any and all information regarding your treatment, including the fact that you are in therapy, is confidential and will not be released to anyone without your written consent. The following are the legal exceptions to your right to confidentiality:

  • If your psychologist has reason to believe that you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or another person, necessary action must be taken by your psychologist to prevent that harm, including--but not limited to--informing friends or family members, contacting police or other officials, or contacting the county designated mental health professional.
  • If your psychologist has a reasonable suspicion, based on information you provide, that there is a child, vulnerable adult, or developmentally disabled person being abused or neglected, your psychologist must inform the appropriate state protective service of that information. In the case of possible child neglect or abuse, your psychologist must inform Child Protective Services. It may be important for you to know that if you reveal that you were abused as a child and your abuser still has access to children, your psychologist must inform Child Protective Services.
  • If your psychologist is ordered by a court to release your records, your psychologist must release those records.
  • Under the Uniform Health Care Information Act of 1992, your psychologist does not require written consent to confer with current, prior, or future health care providers for purposes of continuity of care, or to confer with a member of your immediate family. My policy is to do so only in the event of an emergency.
  • As a result of new state regulations adopted by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), I am required to report myself to DOH in the event of an act of unprofessional conduct, a determination of risk to patient safety due to a mental or physical condition, or disqualification from participation in the federal Medicare or Medicaid programs.
  • I am also required to report other health care providers if I have actual knowledge of a finding, conviction or determination of an act constituting unprofessional conduct or if the health care provider may be unable to practice his or her profession with reasonable skill and safety due to a mental or physical condition.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about these requirements, please feel free to discuss them with me.

The competent and ethical practice of psychology requires that your psychologist consult periodically with other licensed mental health professionals. Should your psychologist consult with a colleague regarding your treatment, he or she will omit any extraneous identifying information (name, address, employment), so that your anonymity is preserved.

If you are using insurance or managed care to pay for therapy, your rights as a client may be limited by your benefit company. That company may limit the number of sessions available to you, the length of your treatment, or your choice of psychologist. Also, insurance companies and managed care organizations usually require that your psychologist provide information about you before they pay for sessions. The information required varies by benefit company, but usually includes any diagnoses for which you meet criteria. Managed care companies also often request specific treatment plans and periodic progress reports, and occasionally require copies of your treatment records. If you wish to use your benefits, you must sign a consent to release information to your benefit company. If you have questions about what your particular benefit company requires, contact that company or ask your psychologist. Your benefit company is obligated to keep confidential any information they receive about you.

Dr. Schermerhorn supports your right to end your treatment when you choose. She also strongly urges you to talk about your thoughts of terminating when you are considering ending therapy. Whether the decision to terminate is a result of feeling that the issues that led you to therapy are resolved, or a feeling that treatment is stalled, my foremost desire regarding termination is for a good ending. Often, the last few weeks of therapy are quite productive, as loose ends are tied up. And if you are feeling frustrated with the progress of therapy, discussing this feeling can often lead to substantial progress with your current therapist, or an informed referral to another professional who may be more helpful to you.

You are expected to pay in full, check, cash, or credit cards, before each session, unless other arrangements have been made in advance. If you choose to use your insurance benefit, you must make any co-payment (after the deductible is satisfied) at the time of your session.

You are responsible for providing the information needed to bill your insurance or managed care company. Complete all insurance information on my forms carefully so that your bill is paid appropriately by your benefit company. If a check from an insurance or managed care company is mailed to you, you are responsible for paying that amount at your next appointment.

If you find that you are having a difficult time paying for therapy, please discuss this with Dr. Schermerhorn so that alternatives may be worked out. If you fail to pay for four consecutive sessions, psychotherapy will be terminated. For accounts that are overdue past 90 days, a referral can be made to a collection agency for the legal recovery of fees.

You may accrue additional charges for the following, done on your behalf. In each case, the charge is prorated based on the 45-minute fee

  • extended therapy sessions
  • administration, scoring, and interpretation of psychological testing
  • report or letter writing
  • travel time to locations outside the office

In addition, court-related work is billed at separate rates. This includes:

  • Court/Legal Records Review                              
  • Writing Reports for the Court                             
  • Depositions                                                         
  • Court Testimony                                                

    Please note, fees cannot be posted on the website. If you have questions about the fees that Dr. Schermerhorn charges, please feel free to ask her.

When you make an appointment with a psychologist, you are reserving that time for yourself. Please know that if you are late for your session, the session will end on time. If you cancel an appointment with more than 24 hours notice, this allows your therapist time to fill the space, and you are not charged. If you cancel with less than 24 hours notice, you will be responsible for paying for the missed appointment at our next session. Similarly, if you miss your session entirely, you will still be responsible for paying for the time, and payment will be due at the beginning of the next session.