During the first session, your child’s therapist will meet with you to learn more about the reasons you are seeking counseling. They will also ask questions that will help them get to know your child and your family. Questions will be asked about your child’s emotional, social, behavioral and academic adjustment, family relationships, early development and medical health. During this meeting, the therapist will briefly describe what you can expect during counseling sessions.
Parent participation is typically essential to good therapy outcomes for children. Parents will provide important information to the therapist about the child’s progress and about current concerns. Children and parents often have “therapy homework” which typically involves monitoring of specific behaviors and/or practice of new skills between therapy sessions. The degree to which the parents of a teen/older adolescent are involved in therapy depends on the individual needs of the teen.
You may request a separate appointment, or you may notify the staff that you wish to speak to the therapist first. Typically, therapists touch base with the parent before the child’s therapy session, but this is not always the case for every appointment.
During the first appointment, you will meet with the evaluator to provide general background information regarding your child, and you will provide information regarding the concerns that bring you in for testing. Teens will typically attend this first meeting with you. You are encouraged to bring any previous test results to this appointment. During the next two appointments, your child will meet with the clinician who will administer several different tests. Each of these testing appointments lasts approximately two hours. During the final session, the evaluator will review the results of the testing with you. You are encouraged to ask questions and express any concerns you have about the results. After the final appointment, the clinician will complete a written report which is usually mailed to the parents.
You can discuss this with the evaluator during the first appointment, but generally you can let your child know that they will be doing some activities that will help you (and their teachers, doctor, or therapist, if appropriate) understand the types of help they may need at school and/or at home. You can tell them that some of the work will be very easy, and some of the work will be hard, but they are only expected to try their best.
The types of testing will depend on the concerns presented. Testing typically includes an intelligence test to assist in identifying your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and to assist in setting appropriate expectations for your child. Depending on the problems presented, tests will be used to help understand your child’s social development, their academic performance, and their emotional and behavioral adjustment. The evaluator will ask you and your child’s teacher to complete ratings scales that identify strengths and concerns observed at home and school.
Arkansas Families First groups are formed based on need, which is usually determined by the types of referrals we are receiving. Groups are effective for a number of problem areas. Some groups focus on skill building and some focus on group support. Groups are available for parents, children, and teens. Current group offerings include groups for children with anxiety and social skills groups. The social skills groups also include a parent group that meets at the same time.
This is determined based on the individual needs of the child and family. In some cases, a child is seen for group therapy at Arkansas Families First, but participates in individual therapy elsewhere. Group therapy can be an excellent compliment for individual therapy, but can also be used as a “stand alone” treatment option. Your child’s therapist will help guide you in finding the treatment options that are best suited to your child’s needs.
Group members are informed at the beginning of group that information shared by the members is confidential.
At Arkansas Families First, we believe that the best care combines medication management with therapy. After meeting with your therapist, you can discuss whether a referral to the psychiatrist may be appropriate for your child. If your child is already prescribed medication and you wish for our psychiatrist to follow your child, then an initial appointment with our psychiatrist can be made when the first therapy appointment is made.
Some agencies must require that children be evaluated by a psychiatrist in order to receive services through the agency. Arkansas Families First is not required to do so. Your child will be seen by the psychiatrist only as requested by you.
Our psychiatrist is currently available one day per week (Thursdays), and sees those children who are also in therapy with an AFF therapist. Parents of children being seen by an AFF therapist may request an appointment with the psychiatrist for their child at any time. Our psychiatrist and therapists collaborate to provide coordinated care for your child.
We accept most major insurance plans (including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Tricare, QualChoice, United Behavioral Health, Cigna, and others). Please note that not all of our therapists are providers for each plan due to limitations set by the insurance companies. We will check your benefits for you before your first appointment. We are not currently taking new Medicaid patients.
We have a self-pay option and our staff will be happy to provide details of this fee schedule to you. While insurance plans generally pay for therapy and most psychological testing, some plans do not pay for testing related exclusively to learning disabilities.
Your out-of-pocket expense will vary depending on the provider, the type of service, and on your insurance plan. We will let you know what your expense will be before your first visit, if possible. Sometimes changes in information received from you, result in changes to the amount owed. Your payment depends on the benefits offered by your insurance plan, the co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles you owe. Not all insurances have the same co-pays for mental health benefits as they do for primary care benefits. Some group therapy options are offered as self-pay only.