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Contemplative Practice Lab Approach

What are contemplative practices?

Contemplative practices involve reflecting on one’s experience with intentional awareness. Practices include meditation, movement-based or embodied practices such as hatha yoga, tai’ chi, breath work, and other techniques designed to increase concentration, awareness, cultivate particular qualities and states of mind, or relaxation. Many of these contemplative practices have been extensively researched and found to be excellent for supporting and improving mental health outcomes such as reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and enhancing overall well-being.

What is the Contemplative Practice Lab?

The Contemplative Practice Lab is a socially-conscious holistic mental health service and education organization that is changing the way mental healthcare is addressed by making innovative approaches publicly available. It was founded to serve clients utilizing our unique expertise of scientific and academic training, contextualized by living and working within contemplative traditions in Asia. To tackle the growing mental health crisis, particularly among young adults, the Contemplative Practice Lab’s mission is to demystify how to improve mental health and emotional well-being and teach people skills to cultivate long-lasting happiness. We emphasize using contemplative approaches to manage stress, transform the mind, and heal the heart.

The Contemplative Practice Lab is an environment for learning, experimenting, and practicing contemplative approaches and skills to enhance well-being. Offering individual psychotherapy, group workshops, on-demand courses, and organizational consulting, the Contemplative Practice Lab also offers an investigative space for multi-disciplinary approaches and strategies to address mental health issues and associated complex social systems. Bringing together interdisciplinary researchers, providers, and community members, the Lab provides an alternative paradigm to strategic planning, experimentation, reflection, and practice to test and develop collaborative solutions to expand access to public mental health resources.

What types of mental health issues do you work with?

We are trained to work with a variety of mental health issues but we specialize in helping people who are struggling with anxiety, stress, sleep issues, and burnout using contemplative practices. When chronic stress goes untreated, it can turn into an anxiety disorder and begin to impact other areas of life such as sleep, relationships, nutrition, physical health, and our ability to think clearly. Because we work holistically to address all areas of your life, we discover which elements are out of balance and support you decrease the effects of stress on your body and mind.

What is the best way to treat anxiety?

We will take our time to explore how anxiety affects your life and then we will create goals and objectives for how to best meet your needs together. Throughout our work together, but especially in the beginning, we will help you develop skills and resources to manage anxiety and decrease its intensity of it in your daily life using contemplative practices that impact the nervous system. Once you begin to feel some relief, we will explore the root causes and engage in the deeper work of processing unconscious beliefs, thoughts, and experiences that could be contributing to your struggles. We will complete our work together when you feel comfortable applying what we have learned and worked on so you can carry it into your daily life.

Do you offer in-person counseling, online sessions, or both?

We offer telehealth sessions on a HIPAA-compliant video platform at this time. Walk-and-talk therapy sessions may be available after treatment has been initiated if appropriate and of interest to the client.

Classes, workshops, and consulting are available online and in person.

Do you ask clients to do “homework” or practice in between sessions?

In our work together, we’ll establish therapeutic goals that will guide our sessions. Part of helping you work towards these goals will be incorporating new skills or behaviors to shift or alter patterns and experiences. We will suggest activities and practices that we try in session for you to continue in between sessions to support the work we do during therapy sessions. We have found that clients make significantly faster progress when they commit to integrating what we work on in session by practicing in their daily life.

What will our work together look like?

During the first few sessions, we will discuss your background, your current concerns and reasons for seeking treatment, and create a personalized care plan based on your individual needs, goals, and experiences. We’ll also begin using techniques that help with symptom reduction.

In the second phase, we will work on developing strategies, practices, and interventions to help you deal with the issue that brings you to therapy. We will work on applying these practices and skills in session and in between to determine which ones work best for you and under what circumstances. In this way, we will also be able to identify obstacles or maladaptive patterns and help you process them so you don’t continue to feel stuck.

During the final integration phase, we will spend a few sessions ensuring you are able to apply what we have worked on so you have the confidence to maintain these approaches in ways that align with your values.

I am ready to begin, what is the next step?

The best way to begin is to schedule your free 15-minute consultation. This will give you a chance to learn how I work with clients, what to expect in therapy, and discuss what your treatment goals are to determine if we are a good fit to work together. During this consultation, you will have a chance to ask any questions you have about the intake process, clarify logistics, and talk about scheduling your first session. If I am not the best match for your therapeutic goals, we can discuss ways for you to find a more suitable therapist.

Client Experience

Is video counseling effective and right for me?

As discussed in the American Psychological Association regarding recent research, “What we’ve seen is that telehealth is essentially just as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy—and retention rates are higher”.

There are many benefits to using telehealth including convenience of meeting from your own space, no waiting rooms, and no commute or parking issues. Things to consider include your access to a reliable and secure wifi connection, a computer or phone with a video camera that you are able to use to communicate, and having a private space where you feel comfortable discussing personal matters.

How do you incorporate meditation and mind-body practices through online therapy?

Using secure video platforms for online therapy allows us to provide the same type of therapy and interventions we would in person at an office. The guided practices are easily led through video and we check in with clients often to ensure a high-quality experience with backup systems in place in case of technological challenges. We also discuss how to continue what we practice in session in between sessions to support building your capacity to practice on your own.

What kind of results can I expect to get from counseling?

After engaging in therapy, our clients report feeling less stressed and anxious, more confident in managing their thoughts and emotions, and less reactive in their relationships. As clients begin learning new skills, they tell us they feel they now have a choice in how they respond to stress and challenging situations. Clients working on interpersonal skills say they are able to express their feelings and desires calmly, maintain healthy boundaries, and recognize when they need to take space or do something differently to avoid becoming overwhelmed. At the end of therapy, our clients say they feel more grounded, joyful, and able to make decisions, and simply put, more like themselves again!

How many sessions will I need?

The length of time for therapy varies for each individual dependent on what you would like to work on. There are many factors influencing the duration of therapy, which will be discussed with the client during the consultation and the first few sessions. Most clients we work with will see symptom reduction and may resolve their issues after 3-6 months. But some clients who choose to engage in more in-depth processing or enjoy the ongoing support and opportunity to process their thoughts and feelings each week may continue for a year or more. For many people, therapy is used as a means of prevention and maintenance of wellbeing. Regardless of how long you remain in therapy, to sustain long-term change requires patience and commitment.

During the initial consult, your goals for therapy will be discussed to assess your needs and we can estimate the duration of your treatment. We will monitor your progress monthly to ensure you are progressing towards your therapeutic goals and are able to implement the new skills you are learning into daily life while receiving ongoing therapeutic support.

How often will we meet?

We meet with all clients on a weekly basis to start as this helps them progress toward their goals and see improvements more quickly. After about 6-8 weeks if a client has been in therapy previously, we may decide we can decrease the frequency to meeting every other week. During the assessment and treatment planning sessions, we will discuss what seems appropriate for your situation and needs, and establish a set to time to meet each week as our recurring weekly appointment.

Logistics & Policies

Are you able to work with people in my state of residence?

Michelle is currently licensed in Massachusetts and Virginia, and clients must physically be in one of those states at the time of telehealth sessions.

However, beginning in mid 2024, new licensing regulations will allow her to work with clients in most states. You can check this map for the latest updates to see if your state has enacted this legislation or contact Michelle to verify eligibility: https://counselingcompact.org/map/

Can I use my health insurance to pay for therapy?

The Contemplative Practice Lab is an Out of Network (OON) provider and does not accept insurance. Some people prefer not to use their insurance to maintain privacy of their mental health records and not have their insurance provider determine what they choose for services.

However, if you would like to use your insurance and you receive Out of Network (OON) benefits, we can provide what is called a monthly “Superbill” or a receipt with appropriate details so you may request reimbursement (typically 60-80% of fees paid) from your insurance company. It is also possible to use your Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account, which may cover all of the fees and allows tax advantages.

You’ll need to check with your insurance provider to determine if you have benefits for licensed counselors as OON providers.

Full payment for therapy sessions is due on the day of your appointment.

What should I ask my insurance company about Out Of Network coverage?

As an out-of-network practice, you pay the fee for session on the day of your session, and at the end of each month we will provide you with a receipt that you can submit to your insurance company. Most insurance companies have you upload your monthly Superbill online (it’ll be sent to you on the 1st of each month) and then they will mail you a check with your reimbursement. Our services qualify for patient reimbursement under many insurance plans. If you want to estimate what your insurance company will cover, you may want to call and ask:

  • Do I have an out-of-network benefit if I see an out-of-network provider for therapy?
  • Do I have a deductible for out-of-network services and has it been met for this year?
  • Do I need a pre-authorization for out-of-network services?
  • How many sessions will the insurance company authorize before a treatment plan is required?
  • What is the coverage amount per 50-minute therapy session (percentage and monetary amount)?
  • How do I submit claim forms for reimbursement?
  • How long does it take for me to receive reimbursement?
What form of payment do you accept?

For psychotherapy sessions, we accept credit and debit cards, as well as FSA/HSA cards through the client portal. Psychotherapy rates are $225 for a 50-minute session and $335 for the initial 75-minute assessment. Our pro-bono and reduced fee spots are filled by local non-profit organizations so we do not offer a sliding scale through CPL.

For workshops, courses, and consulting services, we accept credit cards.

What is your cancellation policy?

It’s fine to cancel or change an appointment but please call or email a minimum of 48 hours in advance of our scheduled appointment. This allows an opportunity to offer the time slot to someone else who may be waiting for a session. Please note, if you cancel in less than 48 hours, you will be charged the full fee for the missed session as that time was reserved for you.

What are your available hours?

Office hours and client sessions are scheduled from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Friday. All phone calls and emails will be received and responded to during regular office hours within one business day. Please be aware that we do not provide crisis service. If you need urgent support, go to your local emergency department or call 911, or you can text or call 988 for the mental health crisis line. You may also contact one of the crisis hotlines listed below:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233, available 24/7
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255, available 24/7
  • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860, 11am to 5am
What is the “No Surprises Act” and how does it impact me?

The Federal No Surprises Act went into effect on January 1, 2022 to protect patients from surprise medical bills. As a result, all licensed health providers who offer out of network services are required to post a notice of “your rights and protections against surprise medical bills” on our websites or in our physical offices.

  • You have the right to receive a “Good Faith Estimate” explaining how much your medical and mental health care will cost.
  • Under the law, health care providers need to give patients who don’t have insurance or who are not using insurance an estimate of the expected charges for medical services, including psychotherapy services.
  • You have the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for the total expected cost of any non-emergency healthcare services, including psychotherapy services.
  • You can ask your health care provider, and any other provider you choose, for a Good Faith Estimate before you schedule a service.
  • If you receive a bill that is at least $400 more than your Good Faith Estimate, you can dispute the bill. Make sure to save a copy or picture of your Good Faith Estimate.

For questions or more information about your right to a Good Faith Estimate, visit www.cms.gov/nosurprises.