General Questions About Evergreen
A trauma therapist is a licensed mental health professional who, beyond their graduate school training, has pursued advanced treatment in evidence-based trauma treatment modalities (such as EMDR, TF-CBT, Sensorimotor, etc.). A trauma therapist is therefore equipped with a much higher skill set to adequately and appropriately treat trauma from a phase-based approach, conceptualize a case more rigorously, design specific interventions, and apply their advanced training to treat not only the symptoms of the trauma history but also the root of it. Many well-meaning general therapists (and certainly life coaches) say that they can treat trauma and inadvertently end up retraumatizing their clients due to their lack of training and advanced skill sets.
Annie Wright, LMFT chose the name for dual reasons: 1) She believes in her core that the need for therapy isn’t singular across a lifetime; our need for help and support is evergreen, perennial, and ongoing as the challenges of a lifetime are also ongoing. And 2) Having spent most of her life between the fragrant pines of Maine and the coastal live oaks and redwoods of California, Annie’s biased towards the evergreen variety.
One of Merriam-Webster definition’s of “boutique” is: “a small company that offers highly specialized services or products.” That’s us. We’re not aiming to be the big box store of therapy services like so many tech-backed mental health companies out there. We will never be a team of 500 generalist clinicians. We’re a small, highly trained, highly talented team of specialists offering specialized services and we intend to stay that way in large part to maintain rigorous quality control over our work but also to continue fostering an incredible sense of community amongst our team. Our niche and our size plus our relentless devotion to excellence in our clinical work and in our customer service mean that we exist for clients (and clinicians) who prefer high-end, bespoke, specialized, high-quality therapy experiences.
Being a hybrid center simply means that we see clients both in person in our physical Berkeley-based offices and also online. Even prior to the pandemic we offered telehealth services because so many folks seeking our specialized services live(d) in the LA, Orange County, and Sacramento areas. We’re happy to be able to be a hybrid center and offer our clients (and our staff) a range of options for working with us.
General Questions About Therapy
Put simply, therapy – also called psychotherapy or counseling – is the process of meeting with a trained and credentialed mental health professional on a weekly, ongoing basis to help you recognize and change deep-rooted and potentially self-sabotaging mental and emotional behaviors, thoughts, and patterns that are keeping you feeling stuck, in pain, and away from the life you want to live.
Here at Evergreen Counseling, we work with children ages 3-12, individual adolescents, individual adults, couples, and families of all different configurations, identities, and ethnicities. Many of our clients are working professionals and we also work extensively with graduate, undergrad, and high school students, too. Also, while some of our clients have been to therapy before, the majority of our clients – about 60% – are first-timers to therapy. Finally, while our clients’ professions, ages, ethnicities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, religions, family backgrounds, and lifestyles vary widely, all of them share something in common: they are people who are in pain and who are at a point where they’re willing to commit and invest in themselves and in therapy in order to change and create something different in their lives.
Almost all of our clients begin working with us because they have a sense of wanting something better for themselves – whether it’s a loving, committed relationship, work that they adore, or a nervous system that doesn’t spring into a 5-alarm fire when they hear a car door shut, etc. – and yet they don’t quite fully know what it will take to get there.
We invite you to read more about our therapists’ areas of expertise, the treatment issues we cover on each individual service page, and if you would like more information about whether or not their skills would be a good match for you at this time, contact us to set up a complimentary 20-minute consultation session to talk more about what you’d like to get some support with so that we can ensure we have a therapist who’s a good clinical fit.
If you’re unsure if you would benefit from trauma therapy (vs regular therapy) and if you’re curious to learn more about whether or not you might come from a trauma background, please explore our signature psychoeducational quiz here. Note that this is not a diagnostic quiz. It’s simply an informational lens to help widen your thinking and provide you with information that could help you understand what kind of targeted support you might need.
Logistics at Evergreen
Yes! We definitely are. A large portion of our team is seeing clients in person in our offices again, Monday-Sunday.
No, we don’t take drop-ins. We need to schedule you in advance, either through a consult call with our clinical intake coordinator and/or via a direct therapy session booking with the clinician of your choice. And, of course, you can also contact us to get started.
We do! Please contact us to get started.
The contact information - email and direct phone number - of every clinician at Evergreen is listed on their bio page and also in their email signature.
We’re always accepting new patients! We hire consistently so that we can guarantee someone always has openings to see new clients seeking therapy. And, while sometimes a certain clinician might have a small waitlist before they can see someone, we’re happy to help you get on that waitlist and/or get set up with another ideal therapist who can see you sooner rather than later.
Yes! We see clients seven days a week and see clients until 9 pm in the evening.
Yes, we absolutely do. We see children from ages 3-12 in our fully equipped child therapy playroom and our clinicians who are either Registered Play Therapists and/or child therapists are the ones who conduct trauma-informed therapy with these kiddos.
No, unfortunately. We can’t hold a time on our clinician’s calendars for more than two weeks out. If life prevents you from scheduling for a month or two, just contact us when you're free to begin therapy and you can schedule a session that week or the next week.
At this time, none of our clinicians are licensed to prescribe medication. However, we maintain a highly vetted internal referral list of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners we know and respect and can coordinate referrals for you once you’re a client of ours.
The first in-person meeting is what’s known as an intake session. It’s different from a traditional therapy session because this will be a time for our therapists to gather your case history and together you’ll talk about why you have decided to pursue therapy and what your goals are for your time together. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know your therapist, to ask any questions you may have, and to see how you feel in our offices (if coming in person) and with your therapist. At the end of the session, you and your therapist can decide together if it feels right to move forward in scheduling another session and beginning the rest of the therapeutic journey. Please note that this first session is not complimentary; it is a fully paid session. If you would like a complimentary 20-minute consult call to assess if you and your therapist feel like a good fit in advance of the first session, we recommend you reach out to book that first.
An actual therapy session lasts 50 minutes in length. The duration of therapy – how long you work with a therapist – looks different for everyone. For some, four-six months following an acute stressor (such as a breakup or big life change) is adequate. For others looking to overcome extensive abuse histories and change deeply rooted patterns and belief systems, the process may take longer. On average, we see our clients for a minimum of 6 months. You can trust that you and your therapist will keep checking in throughout your work together to determine if it feels appropriate and timely to end therapy.
Here at Evergreen, we believe there’s a big misconception out there that therapy means just talking and talking about the past without ever taking action on the present. We certainly don’t operate that way as therapists. While we will always create space to talk about your past and the feelings that surface as we explore this, we are very direct and engaged therapists and actively work with our clients to design interventions, exercises, and thoughtful action steps if that’s what you’re looking for as part of therapy. We truly and firmly believe that we’re in the business of creating change for our clients.
Making the decision to seek out therapy isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a wise act of self-care to reach out for support from professionals when there’s a challenge you need help with. You’d reach out to a doctor for help setting your broken bone or to a lawyer if you need help filing divorce paperwork, wouldn’t you? When it comes to your mental and emotional health it’s no different. Reaching out for professional support is an act of self-care to address the challenges you’re facing.
Here at Evergreen, we work to create a safe and really special environment where, for 50 minutes each week, the world can slow down, and together you and your therapist can compassionately explore, understand, and transform behaviors, thoughts, and patterns that may be holding you back from ultimately living the life you want to live. Our therapists’ style is warm and challenging, direct and engaging, and relationally oriented while also being evidence-based and grounded in trauma training. What that means is that we truly believe that it is through our early relationships that certain patterns get established and certain wounds are created. And it is only then through a relationship that these patterns and wounds can shift and be healed. When you work together as therapist and client, it’s actually the relationship that becomes the therapy in addition to all of the ways we explore, address, and clarify the content you bring into the room. Then, we combine that relationship with powerful, evidence-based trauma treatment modalities to create profound and lasting change for you.
Therapy sessions are 50 minutes in length. Occasionally, and as the schedule permits, our clients will book a double session of 100 minutes if they are experiencing a crisis or acute stress in their lives that week.
Consultation & Matching Process
Choosing a therapist is a very personal decision. Therapy is only as effective as the relationship between therapist and client and because of this, we offer a complimentary 20-minute consult call with our clinical intake coordinator who can help assess who among our staff might be a good fit, and then another 20-minute consult call with either the assigned or chosen therapist to assess fit. So please book a complimentary consult session with our clinical intake coordinator or give us a call or text at 510-373-2723 to set up a personalized therapist matching consultation to help you get set up with the best therapist for your situation.
We want you to think about our Clinical Intake Coordinator - Jennifer - as the kind, caring friend you wish you had in your life. Someone who you can honestly open up to about what’s really going on and then get her opinion and advice about the next steps and how you can finally get the support you need. That’s how we want you to feel when you talk to her (and practically everyone does - she’s wonderful!). But on a practical level, Jennifer is responsible for matching every incoming client based on their presenting clinical needs, their personality and temperament, their scheduling and logistical preferences, and all other variables, to a member of our team who she believes will be an amazing match for them. Her job is both an art and a science and over 99% of placed clients at Evergreen stay with their assigned therapist. Schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation call with her today to get started.
There is consistent evidence that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is directly correlated to the success of the therapy treatment. That’s why as a boutique center we offer complimentary consult calls not only with our clinical intake coordinator but also with any recommended clinician to help you determine if the therapist will be a good fit for you. We want you to feel confident and comfortable as you begin your therapy journey.
We have a therapist who can fit almost any desired demographic criterion! You can get to know our team through their bio pages but also please contact us to begin the matching process and have your questions answered.
Of course! You will either be placed on the consult call calendar of your assigned therapist by the clinical intake coordinator or, at any point, you can browse the bio pages of all of our staff members and directly book as many consult calls as you like with clinicians who interest you and who seem like they may be a good fit for you.
Choosing the “right” therapist can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing and we want to help you make this decision and feel totally at ease about pursuing therapy with us. That’s why we offer a concierge-style of service including providing you with complimentary 20-minute consult calls with our highly trained clinical intake coordinator and also providing you with another 20-minute consult call to the clinician you’re assigned to so you can be confident about the fit. If it turns out that our therapists are not the best match for you, we guarantee you that we’ll provide with you additional referrals to other therapists who may be a good fit.
Insurance & Finances
It means that we don’t bill insurance companies directly but we do provide superbills (itemized medical receipts) for our clients to provide to their insurance company for reimbursement directly back to the client. You, the client, are responsible for payment at the time of your therapy session but using your superbill and your insurance plan’s out-of-network mental health benefits (if offered), you can be reimbursed for a portion of (and sometimes all) of your therapy session costs. This sounds complicated but about 85-90% of the clients who receive therapy at Evergreen use their insurance plan’s out-of-network mental health benefits to get reimbursed for some (if not all or a very large portion) of their therapy session fees. We navigate this process every day for our clients and we’re happy to help you do it, too. Please know that private pay therapy is a big advantage over most insurance since the insurance company will not dictate the lengths and terms of your therapy and also your insurance company will not be given any details of your therapy (such as your session notes) and you will not be given a diagnosis on your records (helpful if you’re sued or if your medical records are subpoenaed such as for a divorce or custody case). Moreover, you may also be able to claim mental health as a medical expense tax deduction.
Our fees at Evergreen vary by clinician depending on both their seniority, advanced training, clinical expertise, and whether you’re asking to be seen as an individual or in joint sessions (eg: couples counseling or family counseling). Our fees at Evergreen range from $175/session to $255/session. To see an overview of our staff’s fees, you can explore our up-to-the-minute openings document here and/or learn more on your 20-minute complimentary consult call with our clinical intake coordinator.
On the first of the month, you will find your superbill for the previous month’s therapy sessions in your secure, online client portal. For example, on March 1st you will find your superbill for February will all of your February therapy sessions listed on the superbill. The superbill will have all the codes and information your insurance company needs to process it for reimbursement. Then, simply download the superbill from your portal, and email/fax/submit it electronically to your insurance company.
If you want an easier way to get reimbursed (beyond downloading your superbill from your portal and manually sending it to your insurer), some of our clients also use Reimbursify which allows you to take an image/screenshot of the superbill and file the claim and follow up with it for you. They charge around $1 per claim as far as we understand it.
Simply call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card and ask the following questions: “Does my plan provide reimbursement for out-of-network mental health care?” “If so, is there a separate deductible?” “What percentage of out-of-network costs does my plan cover?” “Do I need pre-authorization for out-of-network services?” “Is there a limit to the number of sessions that will be reimbursed per year?” “How do I submit for out-of-network reimbursement?” You will then have all the information you need to determine what - if any - amount you are responsible for paying out of pocket for your therapy sessions. And/or you can explore this free, HIPAA-compliant tool from Nirvana Health to help you understand your likely reimbursement rates and any deductible you have to hit.
Most insurance plans’ out-of-network mental health benefits now cover telehealth services but if you want to be sure, give them a call and ask if the codes 90791-95 and 90834-95 will be covered.
A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is an insurance plan with very few limitations to see out-of-network providers for mental health as well as other medical health needs. PPO plans usually reimburse a part of out-of-network costs. So, usually, if you have a PPO plan, once you hit your out-of-network deductible (which differs from plan to plan), you may receive reimbursement for a portion of your expenses for therapy with Evergreen. On the other hand, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs such as Kaiser), are the type of insurance plan where your primary care doctor coordinates your care with other in-house/in-network providers all within their larger system. HMOs usually don’t have any out-of-network mental health reimbursement for therapy outside of their HMO network. So, unless you pursue a single case agreement (see below) you likely won’t get reimbursed from your HMO for therapy at Evergreen. This is, unfortunately, the case with Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO’s), too. But, please always call the customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card to be sure and to hear directly from them about what they will and will not cover.
Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Medicaid operate as HMO plans so unless you have a single case agreement, you likely will not be able to get reimbursed for therapy at Evergreen.
Absolutely! Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Savings Account (FSA) cards operate just like debit or credit cards as far as our system is concerned. So when you complete your new client intake paperwork with us, simply enter your HSA or FSA card into our secure payment system and you can use these tax-free dollars to pay for therapy at Evergreen.
This depends on your insurance plan’s processing times. It’s best to call the customer service number on the back of your card to confirm.
Once you submit your superbill, your insurance plan will mail a check directly back to you to the mailing address they have on file for you.
We will always alert you to this if your check arrives at our offices. Since you have already paid for your sessions, we will never, obviously, cash a check for your services. Instead, we’ll contact you and support you in communicating with your insurer to clear up the mistake (them addressing the check to us) so that they can correct their error and get the check to you.
Outside of the session, any time spent on clinical matters above 5 minutes is pro-rated at your therapist’s fee.
Therapy is a financial commitment. It’s an investment in yourself and your ability to become aware of self-sabotaging patterns and more capable of practicing new, more effective thoughts and behaviors. This – this ability to think and behave more effectively – can profoundly and positively impact your future relationships, your work, your health, and even your finances. If you’re like most of the individuals we’ve worked with, you’ve likely already invested a lot of time and energy, and money into your education, your career, your home, and your physical health. Here at Evergreen, we truly believe that investing in therapy as an act of self-care can be a continued investment in your overall well-being and success in life.
Absolutely. What you share in your sessions is completely confidential except in the case of 1) immediate threat of harm to self or other, 2) suspicion of child, dependent adult, or elder abuse, 3) in the case of a court subpoena or if you enter your mental health in a court proceeding. You and your therapist will discuss all of this and Evergreen’s other office policies during your initial intake session.
Yes! Our therapists at Evergreen Counseling conduct online video counseling on secure, password-protected devices using a video conferencing software that is a trusted, HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution and we also insist that our clients take their online video sessions in a closed, private room to ensure privacy. We do everything we can to comply with data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding your medical information.
Ideally, you will have a laptop or desktop but even a smartphone can work well for online video counseling. We do require that our clients download a free piece of software to their phones in advance of the first session because we use a special platform for video counseling. Your therapist will send you instructions about this platform and how to download this simple piece of software when you book your first session.
At the start of your scheduled session time, your therapist will dial you via the video conferencing software. When you accept their call, a window will pop up with their face, you will see and hear them, they will see and hear you, and then you can then begin your 50-minute session as you would if you were sitting here in our offices. At the end of the 50-minutes, your therapist will end the video call and you will both be disconnected from the video conferencing software.
Yes! Growing bodies of research (especially in these post-pandemic days) illustrate how virtual therapy and in-person therapy are comparably effective. And still, whether you are in-person or video-conferencing, the two biggest factors that will make therapy effective are whether you and your therapist have a good bond and if they are well-trained in the issue areas you need support around.
After your first session is booked, you’ll receive an email from us confirming your session with a link to your first telehealth session. You’ll also receive an auto-generated link to your session 24 hours before your session time.
As much as we would love to be able to work with you, our therapists are licensed to practice therapy (whether this is in-person or online) in the states of California and Florida only. So what that means is that we can only work with residents of California and Florida.
Evergreen Counseling’s offices are located at 2140 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California, 94704 in the historic Wells Fargo building. Evergreen’s downtown Berkeley offices are very accessible by public transportation, driving, and parking, or by walking and biking. If driving and parking, please note that there are multiple parking garages surrounding our offices including a large one on Allston Way and a large one on Center Street. If coming by BART, you will exit at the Downtown Berkeley BART stop and our offices are a one-minute walk from the plaza exit. If coming by bus, please note that multiple bus lines drop off and pick up just steps from our offices at the downtown Berkeley transit station. These lines include AC Transit and if a Cal community member, Bear Transit and the Berkeley Lab Shuttle.
Yes, we do have some special health safety nuances now and after you book your first session, we’ll send you all the information you need to know about coming to our offices for in-person sessions.
Attendance & Cancellation Policies
While we can appreciate the urge and desire to come to therapy every other week, here at Evergreen we only see clients on a weekly basis at least for the first stage of therapy. Psychotherapy works best within the context of a trusting and caring relationship and, in our experience, it takes weekly sessions to create a strong, and effective-enough container that allows for us to deepen the work and for you to experience the change you desire. Working on an every other week basis simply doesn’t allow the work and change to deepen or happen as quickly and as effectively. After the initial stage of therapy, you and your Evergreen therapist can talk about what frequency of sessions might be most appropriate for you then.
Since the scheduling of an appointment involves the reservation of time specifically for you, you and your therapist will set an agreed-upon time for your weekly sessions. If you need to change your appointment time, your therapist will do what they can to accommodate you if at all possible. A minimum of 48 hours' notice is required for rescheduling or canceling an appointment. The full fee for your session will be charged for sessions missed without such notification. In addition, if you must miss more than five sessions/five weeks within the year (not including last-minute cancellations for which you have paid or for times when your therapist is out sick or on vacation), we ask that you pay for any additional missed sessions. In our experience, it is rare that this becomes an issue. Most insurance companies do not reimburse for missed sessions. Our five-miss policy runs on a calendrical cycle (January-December).
Whenever possible, we want to try and work with your schedule within the limitations of our cancellation and miss policy. Please speak to your therapist directly about your situation so they can arrive at a mutually supportive schedule.
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR therapy is a widely researched, evidence-based, and neuroscience-informed integrative therapy that was discovered and further refined to reduce distressing emotional symptoms from a multitude of challenging life experiences including isolated and protracted traumatic experiences, phobias, and more. Using bilateral stimulation (be it eye movements, alternating auditory sounds, or bilateral physical sensations - hand buzzers), EMDR works with and aids your brain’s natural impulse to synthesize and metabolize maladaptive memories and beliefs that are getting in your way. The goal with EMDR is to get in touch with maladaptively stored feelings, thoughts, and memories that lie at the root of our trigger responses, but the goal with processing is ultimately to move through these feelings and thoughts until we reach a place of zero disturbance when recalling the trauma memory/experience. That resolution combined with the processing of other trauma memories in the same memory channel is what reduces symptomology in our present. EMDR, simply put, helps your brain and body do what it naturally wants to do: move towards healing. Here's some more information about what to expect from EMDR treatment and its attendant phases and a great video that simply shows what EMDR is and does.
Yes! EMDR can be done remotely or in person with equal effectiveness. The reason is that in both scenarios, the clinician is still using the principles of bilateral stimulation combined with the EMDR protocols that make this modality so incredibly effective. The way we work with EMDR remotely is to have our clients purchase a set of buzzers to use during their sessions at home. There is a wonderful product that we recommend, called Thera-tappers. It consists of two buzzers connected by a wire, connected to a console. You’ll hold a buzzer in each hand and the vibration will create the same bilateral stimulation that we’d be using together in the office. You’d have the buzzers with you at home, but I’d work with you to calibrate the settings to make sure they were set at the correct length, pause, and intensity for whatever stage and EMDR processing we’re in. The bilateral stimulation that makes EMDR so effective works remotely because you have it there in your hands, creating this tactile sensation in your body with me leading you through the protocols, watching you very closely.
EMDR for more straightforward cases and single incident traumas can take anywhere from 12-16 sessions. For more complex cases, such as recovery from developmental trauma, the timeline can be longer. Your EMDR therapist and you will always stay closely connected to determine treatment goals, and progress, and to assess when you’re ready to graduate.
You can do both! Our Evergreen therapists integrate EMDR into their therapy work when and if it’s appropriate and certainly for those who come to see us for EMDR therapy, Evergreen’s therapists can weave advanced psychotherapeutic protocols beyond EMDR into your work, too. We are happy to work with you to design a style of therapy that best suits you and your clinical goals.
For a variety of reasons, sometimes partners might be resistant to coming into couples counseling but still, that doesn’t have to be the end of your counseling journey. Please give our Clinical Intake Coordinator a call so we can help you figure out the solution that’s best for you.