FAQs with Einstein's Behavioral Health Department

Einstein’s Behavioral Health Department answers common questions about reaching out for mental health support:


How do I know if I should reach out for therapy?

You may want to consider therapy if you are experiencing any of the following for more than two weeks:

  • Recent worsening of emotions increased sadness, anger and irritability, fear or anxiety
  • Significant changes in behavior
    • Changes to your sleep patterns (increased, decreased, frequent awakenings)
    • Changes in appetite and eating behaviors, loss or gain of weight
    • Difficulty completing tasks or having motivation to engage in activities you once enjoyed
  • Significant change in your thoughts or perceptions, (excessive thinking, rumination, rapid thoughts, beliefs that are not consistent with reality, auditory or visual hallucinations, impaired attention and concentration)
  • Thoughts of suicide or wishing you were not alive or thoughts of harming others. This is something you should immediately seek help for: schedule an outpatient visit; reach out to get support from others; and/or call the Crisis Response Center 215-951-8300
What different kinds of therapists are there?

There are a variety of different professionals that provide psychotherapy/counseling. These include Psychologists, License Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Psychiatrists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Nurse Practitioners.  Each are trained in psychotherapy but have different educational programs and training focus that are distinct but also overlap with each other:

  • Psychiatrists have medical degrees and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners have nursing education with specialization in psychiatry and mental health.  They prescribe medication but also can conduct psychotherapy.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists do not prescribe medication, have master’s degrees (2-3yrs degree programs) and have attained a license to practice psychotherapy and treat mental health problems. 
  • Psychologists have doctoral degrees (5-6 years of educational training), conduct psychotherapy, psychological testing, have training in research and statistics, and do not prescribe medication.

When reaching out to schedule an appointment, you are assigned to a clinician for psychotherapy and it could be any of the above clinicians.  If you have a preference you can ask for a type of professional. 


How do I find the right therapist or know which kind of therapist to speak with for an adult or a child?

If you know the type of problem you or your child are experiencing, for instance Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD or Anorexia, it is likely best to find a clinician that specializes in the treatment of that problem.  Many therapists consider themselves generalists working with a lot of different problems, but you can imagine those that specialize will have more experience and training in a particular subject.  While some clinicians treat both adults and children many specialize with one or the other.    


You should consider consulting with a few different clinicians to determine what makes a good fit for you or your child.  Therapy is usually a relatively long-term commitment and you want to be confident in your choice.  Not all therapists practice the same way, some are more structured and directive and some emphasize taking a non-directive approach and this needs to match who you are and what you need.  Therapy outcome research suggests the strength of the therapeutic alliance is important to outcome; the more you trust and feel comfortable with your therapist the better the therapy will be.  Parents should expect to be part of the treatment of their child or adolescent, so it is important that both of you have trust and confidence in the clinician.  


What would you tell someone who is considering reaching out for therapy?

I would first tell them that it is great that they are considering getting help.  Therapy has been shown to be effective and a great adjunct to medication treatment.  I would encourage them to attempt to schedule a consultation with a few therapists.  It makes sense to try to find the right fit. 


How does Einstein Behavioral Health ensure confidentiality when seeing Einstein employees?

As with any health provider your behavioral health information is confidential, and only in circumstances in which we believe that you are a threat to yourself or someone else, or if we believe harm is being done to a child, the clinician might need to break confidentiality.  Even in those circumstances, only the minimal amount of information will be provided to make sure everyone remains safe.  Your health information cannot be disclosed without your permission. 


In addition, at Einstein, the Outpatient Department of Behavioral Health records are behind a firewall and other departments throughout the network do not have access to your records.  It would require your permission for your records in our department to be seen by any of your other health providers including those within Einstein.


What will my first appointment be like?  What kind of questions will they ask?

A first appointment will be an evaluation.  The person you meet with may or may not be the person you continue to work with depending on where you receive care.  This is the case at Einstein, the person doing the evaluation may not be the person that treats you.  At many places, including Einstein, you will be required to complete an extensive intake packet.   Information from this intake packet and from a clinical interview will be gathered from several life domains such as:

  • Biological (health information, family history of mental health problems, use of medication, etc.)
  • Psychological (current aspects of mood, thoughts, behaviors, personality traits)
  • Social (family of origin, relationship history, sexual history, academic and vocational history)
  • As well as significant life events that have impacted you.  This may include significant losses, and traumatic experiences among others

We gather all this information to get a full picture of potential factors that could be contributing to problems and to inform the treatment plan.


How long are sessions?

The initial evaluation will typically be 60-90 minutes of face to face time with a clinician.  Typical psychotherapy sessions are 45-60 minutes.  Sometimes there is reason to have shortened visit of 30 minutes or extended visits of 90 minutes.


How long will therapy last?  Meaning, how many sessions do I have to attend?

Therapy can be short – such as 6-12 visits over the course of 2-3 months, or it can be a form of treatment that last years.  Generally, the more severe the problem that one is facing the longer the treatment.  It is important that you and your clinician have an open conversation about the expectations for the length of treatment needed and what goals need to be accomplished to be considered finished.  If this is unclear to you, be sure to advocate for yourself and work with your clinician in establishing clear treatment goals.


I am worried I'll get comfortable with one therapist and then asked to switch to another, is that an issue at Einstein?

Nothing is guaranteed in life and change is about the only thing that we can be certain of.  That being said, it’s often that people work for extended period of time with one therapist.  While switching to a new therapist can be difficult, it can be an opportunity for a new learning experience.  Within Einstein’s outpatient department, we have very little turnover with our senior clinicians.  Therefore, many of our patients see one therapist and often return to therapy if problems have re-occurred and are able to see the therapist they saw before.  This is common.  We are, however, a training clinic and have residents and interns who are with us for 1-2 years and so some patients may need to adapt to transitioning to new providers.  


What hours is Einstein Behavioral Health available?

We are open 8am-7pm on Monday-Thursday, and 8am-5pm on Fridays.  To reach us, you can call 215-456-9850.  We do not have someone answering the phone after hours.  In urgent situations patients are instructed to call the Crisis Response Center 215-951-8300 or 911.


Do I need to go to EMCP or are there therapists near me?

Currently, our department is offering telehealth appointments and in only rare circumstances having in office visits.  Location for the future is less of an issue for everyone seeking mental health services due to telehealth availability.  Our current clients have been largely satisfied with telehealth appointments.  When in office visits return we have clinicians at EMCP as well as Elkins Park and our Center One location.