There's that moment that I have to guess every bishop has had when, in a conversation with a ward member, it clicks. "This is not my expertise, this is more than an issue of the spirit, this an emotional/mental issue." Professional counseling by a licensed therapist can be very helpful in a ward member's life depending on the issue they are dealing with. When seeking out counseling, here are some things to be aware of.
LDS Family Services have new policies as of January 2017. LDS Family Services no longer accepts insurance and also requires that the ward member has a referral from a bishop. In part, these policy changes are causing a lot of referrals into the community to occur. It is completely appropriate and within church policy to have ward members receive counseling other agencies aside from LDS Family Services. A bishop will want to make sure to know the following things including the price of services before moving forward with counseling.
How Often Does the Bishop and Therapist Talk?
Most therapists like to keep in close contact with their clients' bishops. Being a therapist for LDS Family Services for a handful of years trained me that bishop contact is essential in the treatment process if the client would like it to be present so I do my best to reach out about once a month or once every 4 sessions. With that said, a bishop can contact a therapist whenever he'd like to talk and a therapist should be contacting a bishop whenever clinically appropriate.
Who Calls Who?
The therapist should be reaching out to the bishop to discuss the assessment, treatment plan and payment initially. Then, as stated above, the therapist should be keeping in regular contact. I do my best to make this happen but sometimes it doesn't so I'm always grateful if a bishop who'd like to talk about things reaches out to me.
How Do We Schedule a Phone Call?
Some therapists can set up a time to talk with a simple phone call. Emails and texts are the best way to get a bishop on my radar.
How Does Payment Occur?
Unlike LDS Family Services, other therapists can't just pull the amount owed out of your ward's account. Most bill out monthly and send an invoice to the bishop. I try to do this around the 1st of the month. Then, the bishop writes a check out to the agency (BRICKS Family Counseling, in my case) and mails it out.
How Do I Know If the Therapy is Progressing?
Most bishops would be surprised what information can and can't be shared. As long as a Release of Information Form is signed by the ward member, open dialogue between the therapist and bishop can occur. Constant contact with the ward member and the therapist can help a bishop know how the process is going and if progress is happening. With that said, therapy is not an event. It is a process. Though there are some things that can be addressed in 4-8 sessions, most issues are going to take longer. The therapist should keep a bishop in the loop as to progress their seeing or challenges in the process and as the bishop meets with the individual and talks with them, they should be begin seeing changes too.
The key is to match up with a therapist that respects the sacred funds being used for the therapy and that values contact with the bishop.
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