1)  What is a clinical social worker?

Clinical social workers provide the vast majority of mental health care services in America.  They are professional health care providers with education, training and experience in the areas of psychosocial development, behavior, personality dysfunction and mental health.  As health care professionals, clinical social workers help people identify, assess and resolve personal adjustment problems, overcome emotional illness, acquire the appropriate resources, and seek a greater understanding of themselves and others.  A clinical social worker has broad knowledge about human behavior and understands how to apply that knowledge to help people change.

2)  How do clinical social workers differ from other counseling professionals, like psychiatrists or psychologists?

Psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and other professionally credentialed therapists/counselors, in one way or another, are all trained to treat people with personal, emotional and relationship difficulties, yet differ in their form of training, technique and treatment methods.

Psychiatry is a specialization within the field of medicine, and focuses on the physiological or biological-biochemical treatment of mental and emotional disorders.  Psychologists tend to focus on the environmental and learning-based causes for emotional problems, and are also trained in psychometrics, which involves administering specialized test and measurement procedures to help evaluate and treat emotional disorders.   Clinical social workers intervene therapeutically in helping people to overcome and control problem areas in their thinking, emotions, choices and behavior, and utilize various interpersonal interventions and methods in treating those having conflicts and difficulties in these areas.

3)  I notice that your services include Christian Counseling.  Will I be asked, required or questioned about my personal beliefs in therapy sessions with you?

Absolutely not.  Including the faith or psycho-spiritual dimension in the counseling process occurs only at the request of the client, not myself.  A portion of my clients are specifically referred to me by local churches or clergy for help in understanding their difficulties and challenges in a manner that is practically consistent with their Judeo-Christian faith experience, as I am most familiar with that particular world view and spiritual perspective.  In working with clients involving discussions of their difficulties that touch upon their personal beliefs or belief systems in alternative ways, respect, acceptance and tolerance is the order of the day in my office.

4)  Is the information that I disclose confidential?

In New York State, communication between social workers and their clients is protected by law as confidential information.  Recently, it has been compared to attorney-client privilege.  In general, communication between therapists and clients are protected by law and professional ethical guidelines as confidential.  My professional standing in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) requires strict adherence to a code of ethical conduct, confidentiality chief among them.  There are certain exceptions:

For example, a “duty to warn” responsibility exists on the part of a therapist if a client plans to harm another person, or is imminently at risk of self-harm or suicide.  Social workers are also mandated reporters in New York State, legally obligated to report child abuse to the child protective authorities.  Beyond that, personal information is generally protected, and I will only share information involving you or your circumstance with others upon your personal request, and following your consent in writing.

5)  What should I expect upon arrival at my first appointment?

Unless otherwise arranged, all appointments are completed within the time frame of an hour.  Initial paperwork may include filling out demographic information (address, work, insurance. . . etc.), background health information and reviewing pertinent documents such as informed consent and HIPPA forms.  To review the likely documents for Joe Masterleo LCSW-R, view the Downloadable Forms page under the Services tab seen above.  You can download and print the paperwork right from the website.

The initial appointment will begin on time and transpire within an hour.  Early arrivals will find a waiting area on the first landing of the staircase off the main lobby leading to the second floor.  At the appointed time I will call for you.  For  those unable to use stairs, there is a sitting area with chairs just outside my office door.

6)  What shall I do if I am in crisis, do you provide crisis services?

I do not utilize an emergency pager or on-call crisis service for my private practice, though there are instructions on my voice mail and under Resources on the Service page tab on how/where to get help in an emergency.  Otherwise, current clients are instructed to contact me in urgent situations, or to review availability of appointment rescheduling.  I am usually prompt at returning business calls (schedule allowing) and will do so within a few hours, the same half-day or at most, within 24 hours.  As my weekday business schedule is quite full, please keep in mind that I am normally not available immediately, and then only for brief periods between appointments.

Therefore, if you are experiencing a personal crisis I suggest the list of options located under Resources on the Service page tab.

7)  How long does counseling/psychotherapy usually take?

The best answer to this question is that it depends on the person(s) and his/her/their needs.  I am trained in brief, mid-term, long-term and time-limited therapy.  It will become fairly clear to me after a few sessions as to the relative span of time it will take to successfully resolve your personal difficulties, and together, we should be able to clearly discuss and ballpark that time interval in one of those sessions.  Keep in mind that counseling and psychotherapy is an inexact science, so there are a number of unanticipated factors that may contribute to shortening or extending frequency and number of sessions toward completion of our work.

8)  Why is the cost of a treatment visit with a therapist sometimes different from the cost of a treatment visit to a primary care physician?

Part of the cost of counseling/psychotherapy is related to the personal attention and individualized treatment you receive.  Sometimes at your family physician’s office you are seen by a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant, instead of by a doctor.  Also, when you visit your physician, you might receive between five and thirty minutes of one-on-one attention from your physician during an office visit.  In psychotherapy, appointments are normally between 45-60 focused minutes with your therapist, and under certain circumstances, even longer.  The fee charged for such services reflect this time, personal investment, and attention to your concerns.   Compared to the amount of time spent in treatment, counseling and psychotherapy services can actually be less expensive than medical treatments.

9)  For questions related to fees and cost of services provided by Mr. Masterleo, please click on the Services tab above.

10)  For additional questions that are not of an urgent nature, feel free to contact me by phone or by filling out the Contact tab above.