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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I know which mental health professional is really good?

  2. Where can I find a licensed mental health professional in my area?

  3. Will my insurance company pay for these services?

  4. Who is available in the event of an actual life and death emergency?

  5. What does my diagnosis mean?

  6. When is the right time to obtain competent counseling services?

  7. About Fees and Payment

  8. Can I communicate with my psychologist online?

  9. Concerning Personal Mentoring Services

How do I know which mental health professional is really good?

In order to know which mental health professionals are really good you need to do a little research to learn from friends, family or respected community members about which providers truly appear to have something substantive of meaning and value to offer you.  A rule of thumb is to look for mental health professionals who are duly state-licensed, have several years of varied supervised clinical experiences and are ready, willing and able to answer any pertinent questions you may have regarding their education, training, licensure and professional orientation/philosophy.  Finally, really good mental health professionals generally should have a workable “fix” on you and your problem within one-to-four visits and should welcome the opportunity to openly discuss with you their clinical impressions, hypotheses and provisional diagnosis.

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Where can I find a licensed professional in my area?

Generally, you can find a licensed mental health professional in you geographic area you live by: (a) contacting the state licensing board (or department of professional regulation), (b) consulting with either the state or national professional association of the discipline you are interested in (for example, the American Psychological Association or National Association of Social Workers), (c) checking the local Yellow Pages (which permit licensed mental health professionals to publicly list their credentials which you can then verify for licensure at the time you make or keep your appointment), or (d) searching online.  [Warning: If you decide to be evaluated or treated by an unlicensed provider, you do so at your own risk. Licensing does not automatically guarantee professional competence and adherence to ethical standards but it does increase the probability that the licensed mental health professional to whom you are entrusting your care and treatment has passed many stringent “tests” over the years of specialized education, supervised training and demonstrated familiarity with the relevant research literature.]

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Will my insurance company pay for these services?

Many health insurance policies typically have some provision to pay for mental health benefits. It is the client’s responsibility to verify the nature, limits and accuracy of their mental health insurance benefit and to obtain verification, in writing, inclusive of any required pre-authorization for professional services.  Consequently, it is suggested that, prior to making your initial appointment, you review your insurance policy or contact your health insurance benefits administrator to find out exactly what specific mental health benefits are offered, and whether or not "pre-authorization" for services is required.  Some people will choose to pay "out-of-pocket" for their mental health services and not file insurance claims because insurance companies require that a "mental" diagnosis be used and sometimes they will insist upon a medication evaluation even when the client prefers not to be treated with drug therapy. (Personal Mentoring Services and Restore My FOID Card mental health certification are NOT insurance-reimbursable health care services.)

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Who is available in the event of an actual life or death emergency?

If you find yourself or loved one to be experiencing a bona fide life and death emergency you are advised to immediately call your treating mental health professional or “covering provider” (i.e., back-up) as some have 24 hour answering capability.  Otherwise, dial “911” or go to the emergency center of your local hospital.  For all other urgent problems, contact your counselor (or their answering service) briefly stating what the situation is for you and clearly indicating if a call-back from your counselor is truly necessary immediately or if a call-back is acceptable as soon as the counselor is able to get back to you.  Please be advised that it is usual and customary for mental health professionals to charge fees-for-emergency-services-rendered so please be sure to utilize “emergencies” wisely and well.

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What does my diagnosis mean?

Your diagnosis means that the various clinical “signs and symptoms” you have reported to your mental health professional have some recognizable pattern and can be “labeled’ for certain definable purposes.  No diagnosis should ever to be considered as a sole explanation for why you are or feel a particular way.  In addition, the diagnosis of all diagnoses is always the person, NOT their descriptive label.

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When is the right time to obtain competent counseling services?

The ideal time to procure competent professional mental health services is before your problem or difficulty gets out of hand. Unfortunately, too many people access services well after their circumstances are out of control.  However, the right time to obtain competent counseling services is always now!  So long as there is life, there is hope.

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About Fees and Payment

Professional fees for mental health services and payment policies are based upon the specialized training, education and credentials of the provider and whether or not the provider is contracted with your insurance company.  You should always feel free to discuss any aspect of fee and payment with your mental health professional just as you might with any other service provider.

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Can I communicate with my psychologist online?

Current mental health professional standards, ethical codes, and legal statutes in Illinois have not yet caught up with the current electronic information technology revolution.  Consequently, psychologists in the State of Illinois are injuncted from providing any clinical psychological services online.  Emails addressed to NICA's psychologists will be routed to administrative staff for further, non-clinical disposition.

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Concerning Personal Mentoring Services (PMS)

Personal Mentoring Services (PMS) is a new non-clinical "life" services program now available at Northern Illinois Counseling Services, P.C. (NICA, PC).

For more information about Personal Mentoring Services (PMS):

Visit our website at

Call us at 815-455-6736

Email us at [email protected]

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For further information or to schedule an appointment, call:


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The material presented within this website is informational only and is not intended as a substitute for professional services and assistance. We have endeavored to present accurate information, but cannot guarantee that the information on these web pages is always current or correct. We do not assume responsibility for any consequences that may result from using this web page or any sites. We do not necessarily endorse or support the contents, claims, or representations of the websites we provide links to, in whole or in part. While we try to respond to inquiries, we are unable to offer professional advice via email. If you require urgent care, contact Northern Illinois Counseling Associates, P.C. (NICA) at 815-455-6736 or email us at [email protected] to schedule an appointment. If you require emergency care, contact 911 or go the emergency center of your local hospital.

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