Since your therapist cannot be available to you on a 24-hour basis, Psychotherapy Associates operates an on-call rotation in which practice therapists alternate taking emergency evening and weekend telephone calls. This treatment service is available to currently active Psychotherapy Associates patients. Fees for on-call services are charged by the responding clinician.
What Constitutes an Emergency
You may feel free to contact the on-call clinician if the problem with which you are dealing cannot and should not wait until your next therapy session.
Examples of emergencies are things like needing help to figure out how to avoid harming yourself or somebody else (suicide, self-mutilation, overdosing, hitting your child, etc.).
Feeling miserably depressed or anxious, or being so upset that you are unable to meet your day-to-day responsibilities also meets the definition of an emergency, if you have already tried to solve the problem yourself via use of coping strategies such as journaling, practicing relaxation exercises, meditation, practicing calming self-talk and other approaches you and your therapist may have identified.
Examples of issues that are important to discuss in therapy, but which are not emergencies, are being worried about a problem, having insomnia, or wanting to talk further about a topic brought up in your therapy session.
Role of the On-Call Clinician
On-call services are limited to assistance with emergency problem-solving. On-call clinicians generally decline to conduct more extensive psychotherapy for a variety of reasons.
On-call therapists are generalists with their own different areas of expertise, and some on-call therapists may not be familiar with specialized techniques for treatment of your disorder.
Psychotherapy Associates therapists believe that telephone psychotherapy is generally of poor quality. This is especially true when therapy is unplanned and the therapist has been awakened or interrupted from some other activity.
Like the "too many cooks" principle, addressing the same distressing issue with more than one therapist can dilute the quality of work done with your primary therapist.
High On-Call Usage
Psychotherapy Associates therapists generally assume that frequent emergency contacts are indicators that some problem is not being addressed in regular therapy sessions (i.e., some therapy issue is being avoided, you are experiencing some distress which needs to be discussed, a list of techniques for comforting oneself needs to be developed, etc.). The on-call clinician will encourage you to address these issues with your therapist if your use on the after-hours emergency service is unusually high.