These are some of the common questions that we encounter. If you have a question that is not addressed below please contact us at 360-980-2920.

1Why should I seek counseling?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one-third of adults in the US experience struggles difficult enough to warrant counseling. Common reasons people seek counseling:
  • to grow, to go beyond surviving to thriving, to find what they’ve been missing in life.
  • to experience the hope, peace and joy that God intended.
  • to find relief from prolonged feelings of being overwhelmed, loneliness, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness.
  • to develop skills to face emotional difficulties and life fully.
  • to reconcile and strengthen their relationships with others.
  • to recover hope and support through great sadness due to death, separation, divorce, or other losses.
  • to make sense of confusing, traumatic, and/or abusive relationships.
  • to discover healing of deep wounds.
  • to obtain direction in responding to their children’s troubling behavior.
  • seek freedom from unhealthy patterns of eating, habitual behaviors, and sexual addictions.
  • to realize strengthens and overcome the obstacles to a full life.
  • to replace fear and doubt with confidence and hope.
  • to see themselves as over-comers.
If any of these are true of you, counseling may help. Give CHARIS a call at 360-980-2920.
2What about a crisis?
If you are in need of emergency services, call the crisis line at (360) 696-9560; or (800) 626-8137. If you are in Oregon call (503) 215-7082. You may also call 911 and/or go to the closest emergency room.
3Why should I seek services at CHARIS?
DISCOVER:
Hope
Relief
Peace
Growth
Support
Balance
Freedom
Perspective
Acceptance
Being heard
Contentment
Feeling valued
Understanding
Reconciliation
Your potential
Compassion
Restoration
Self-control
Respect
Success
GRACE
4What is CHARIS?
The word CHARIS (pronounced “care us”) is Greek for grace. Grace is undeserved support or acts of kindness. In brief, it means that God desires the best for us so He unconditionally provides what we do not have and cannot supply for ourselves. The word CHARIS is the inspiration for CHARIS Counseling Associates.

Since 1997, our mission is to extend God’s grace through our gifting and skills as related to counseling (1 Peter 4:10). As a non-profit (501c3) ministry, we have provided nearly one million dollars of pro bono services to over 2,800 needy children, adolescents, adults, marriages and families.

CHARIS is a professional counseling service that is passionate about facilitating growth in people and helping them experience the hope, peace and joy God desires for them. As an innovative, collaborative and compassionate group of Christian professionals, we want each person to experience the highest quality of affordable counseling, support services and resources. We utilize evidence-based psychotherapy approaches and sound psychological theory consistent with Biblical truth to promote emotional health, improve quality of life, supporting healthy goals & growth, and reconcile relationships.

Services we provide include: individual, couple and family counseling for children, teens, and adults of all ages; consultation and coordination with primary and other medical providers; community resource to a variety of groups, schools and churches.

The services we do not provide include: chemical addiction treatment, court ordered treatment, crisis intervention, custody evaluations, forensic or neurological assessments, mediation, medication evaluation or prescriptions, parole or probation treatment, sex offender treatment, treatment of active psychosis.

We offer services to all people regardless of age, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status. We respect the dignity and worth of all people, and your rights to privacy, your own beliefs and to make your own decisions. We will work with you from your own perspective because no client need to hold to our beliefs to receive the best professional service we can provide. Nor do we impose our beliefs on clients. At CHARIS, we treat all people with respect, grace and understanding.

Everyone has a worldview–a philosophy of life–that guides their personal, social and professional lives. These core beliefs determine values, ethics and life decisions. All perceptions, conceptions, knowledge, and actions are derived from a person's worldview. Therefore, a counselor's worldview is as important as their counseling theory. We want clients to be aware of our philosophy of life–our Statement of Faith and the Core Values that guide our mission:

Statement of Faith:
We believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word. There is one and only one living and true God existing as three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God eternal and equal with the Father. Human beings were created in the image of God, but became sinners by nature and deed, and therefore hopelessly lost. Salvation, restoration to membership in God’s family, is by grace through faith alone for those who trust in the saving work of Christ at the Cross. Core Values:
  1. We wholeheartedly believe and commit to our Statement of Faith. All counseling theory and techniques utilized will be consistent with our Statement of Faith.
  2. We are committed to demonstrating respect for all clients.
  3. We are committed to providing professional counseling services in accordance with local, state, federal, and organizational laws, statutes, and ethical guidelines.
  4. We are committed to addressing the holistic development of our clients — physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual. We are also quick to refer those issues that are primarily pastoral in nature to a church pastor or pastoral counselor and those that are primarily physical in nature to a physician.
  5. We are committed to being a counseling resource for local churches.
  6. We are committed to benefiting our local community.
  7. We are committed to making every attempt to be affordable to clients in financial need.
  8. We are committed to ensuring that all clients are afforded the right to a counselor with whom they have no other ongoing relationship and who is competent to treat their issues.
  9. We are committed to ongoing personal, professional and organizational growth (physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially, and spiritually).
5What is counseling?
Counseling is a caring and collaborative process between you and your professional counselor. It is based on trust, understanding and respect. Counseling is a personal journey that begins with identifying what you want to have happen and how you will know when you make progress. Counseling then helps you objectively look at your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and what God intended so you can develop more effective ways of dealing with life struggles, traumas and emotional pain. Counseling helps to maximize your strengthens and abilities so you may live more fully.

Counseling uses various therapeutic strategies and techniques to help you tackle mental, emotional and behavioral problems as well as develop your discernment and further growth. Effective counseling may also involve collaborating with medical practitioners to help address a wide range of struggles.

Change can happen! Reviews of research on the effectiveness of counseling show that about 75% of those who enter and apply themselves to treatment experience benefit. This improvement is better and lasts longer than simply seeking help through an informal support network.

Even when we make healthy changes there are some challenges. When an individual changes, their interactions with others also change. Relationships become healthier and stronger. Sometimes, other people do not understand the changes or know how to respond. Many find help and new hope early in treatment. Sometimes, however, treatment seems emotionally difficult before there is a sense of relief, direction, freedom or healing. Medical or psychiatric consultation during periods of depression, agitation, or other emotional difficulties may be needed.

Therapy is a personal choice made by you among available options. Some of those options include other counselors, other therapy techniques, support groups, self-help resources, pastoral counseling and other modes of treatment.
6What is coaching?
Coaching is a helping relationship focusing on making the most of people’s abilities. If you are functioning well in life but need help with achieving specific goals for personal growth or ways to improve certain circumstances, coaching maybe for you. Coaching uses specific and time-limited action plans with the primary focus on promoting a change in behavior and enhancing performance rather than addressing the roots of a problem.

Coaching can be extremely helpful for people. Coaching also has significant risks. Since there is no professional, ethical or legal standard for those who call themselves coaches, the quality of coaches vary dramatically. Anyone can call themselves a professional coach, life coach, personal coach, etc. Coaches have no legal obligation to keep your personal information confidential or to maintain a professional relationship with you rather than a personal one. There are no enforceable standards for practice and no means to investigate, prevent or improve poor coaching practices.

The counselors at CHARIS are not coaches, although we work with you to maximize your abilities and strengths. Our counselors are professionals adhering to ethical and legal requirements of the State of Washington and US federal laws. See the counselors’ bio’s for more information on their extensive training and experience.
7How long does counseling last?
Of course, therapy ranges from a brief to a long-term experience because many variables effect the length of treatment – the client’s needs and goals, emotional resources and social support network, the frequency of sessions and the connectedness with the therapist. You always have the freedom to decide when to start or stop counseling. We suggest clients and counselors review goals and progress every five to six sessions to be sure there is an open dialogue and mutual understanding about your treatment plan and progress.

Researchers are discovering that most people, both children and adults, who have at least several sessions of counseling are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties. One major study showed that 50 percent of clients noticeably progress after only eight sessions while 75 percent of individuals in therapy improved by the end of six months.
8How much does counseling cost?
CHARIS has a long-standing commitment to make counseling affordable, especially to those in need.

Our standard fees for counseling (45 minutes) ranges from $10 to $160 depending on the counselor’s credentials, length of session, service provided and the client’s financial need. Doctoral level counselor’s fees range from $80 to $160; Master level counselors range from $80 to $110; and Counselors in training range from $10 to $80.

CHARIS offers discounts, scholarships and payment plans in cases of financial hardship. Sometimes your church or a family member may be willing to help pay a portion of the counseling.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, please discuss this with the intake counselor when you first call or with your current therapist.

It is also important to know that:
  • Payments (by check, cash, card) are expected at time of service.
  • If for any reason there is a cancellation, 24 hours notice is required, otherwise you, as the client, are still responsible for the full fee payment. Insurance does not cover missed appointments.
  • Phone calls, emails, text messages or other communication made by the counselor at your request are prorated at the hourly fee.
  • A $45 fee will be charged for returned checks in addition to any bank charges. Your payment options may be modified and/or limited should your check be returned.
  • CHARIS periodically reviews and adjusts the standard fees and discounts.
  • Your counselor gets paid when you pay.
CHARIS may use outside professional businesses for billing, administrative assistance and collection purposes. These businesses are under the same HIPAA regulations (see below or click here) as CHARIS to use appropriate safeguards to prevent the misuse or disclosure of your personal health information.
9What about insurance?
The counselors at CHARIS are happy to assist you in using your insurance. Although your insurance plan is a contract between you and the insurance carrier, as a courtesy to you, we submit most insurance claims for you. We will need your full insurance information, including any secondary insurance. You will still need to pay your deductible, co-pay, or for services not reimbursed by your insurance. You are responsible for the balance of payment if your carrier does not respond promptly to our bills (after 90 days).

Your insurance may or may not, cover the services provided at CHARIS. Managed care plans may deny payment or reduce benefits if your care is obtained outside of their network or their authorization (pre-approval). Your number of sessions or treatment protocols may be limited by your insurance. Please check with your insurance carrier to discuss the benefits, limitations and procedures of your plan prior to your visit because you remain responsible for any unpaid balances.

Insurance companies require counselors to submit your personal information, including but not limited to diagnosis, type of treatment, dates of service, copies of chart notes, justifications for treatment, progress reports, and financial information. Once information is released to an insurance company, CHARIS has no control over who is able to access that information. Therefore, if you choose to have your insurance cover a portion of your treatment cost, you will be waiving your right to confidentiality as related to the information your insurance carrier requires.

Please discuss your insurance coverage with the intake counselor or your current therapist to determine what will be the best financial alternatives.

Currently, Bart J. Fowler, Psy.D. is a participating provider with the following healthcare organizations:
  • First Choice Health Network (Moda subcontractor)
  • Managed Health Network, Inc.
  • Providence Health Plans
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • United Behavioral Health
  • US Behavioral Health Plan


Dr. Fowler and the licensed counselors are able to bill as an out-of-network provider with those healthcare organizations that have that option, for example: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Regence, First Healthcare, Premera and UMR.
10How do I get started?
We are honored that you would like a CHARIS counselor to walk with you on your journey of hope, peace and joy. Please call CHARIS at 360-980-2920 to talk with an experienced intake counselor about your reasons for seeking counseling. The intake counselor will assist you in selecting the counselor that will work best with you.

During the initial appointment you and your counselor will discuss the reasons you are coming to counseling and some of your history and set preliminary goals. Any questions about the paper work, procedures, counseling or your counselor are also addressed.
11What about my counseling record (Notice of Information Practices)?
We keep a record of the health care services we provide you. You may ask us to see and copy that record. You may also ask us to correct that record. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so. You may see your record or get more information about it by contacting your counselor. If your counselor is not available then you may contact the Executive Director. Please mail your request for records to CHARIS Counseling Associates 11802 NE 117th Ave Vancouver, WA 98662.
12What is confidentiality?
Confidentiality means that information about you is never released to others without your written permission. Everything said in therapy is confidential and will not be disclosed except when reporting is required or permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Standard (see below or click here) or Washington state law.

Some exceptions to confidentiality include the following:
  • suspected abuse of a child, developmentally disabled person, or a dependent adult;
  • potential suicidal behavior;
  • threatened harm to another, which may include knowledge that the client is HIV positive when there is an unwillingness to inform individuals with whom the client is intimately involved;
  • suspected unprofessional conduct of a license holder, a license holder who may not be able to practice with reasonable skill and safety, or any unlicensed healthcare practice.
  • when required by compulsory process
  • when permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Standard and the Washington State Law.


Information may also be disclosed if you sign a written authorization or in the event that you file a complaint against your counselor. Be aware that payment by check, bank or credit card allows bank employees to view your name in connection to CHARIS Counseling Associates. If you have caller identification on your phone, the name of the agency may appear on the monitor. Further, if you seek insurance reimbursement, you will need to sign a form allowing CHARIS to release confidential information to the insurance company in order to facilitate payment (click here for insurance authorization).

We seek to provide the highest quality of care so in keeping with generally accepted standards of practice, supervision and consultation may be made regarding the management of your treatment with other mental health professionals, including other counselors in the center, who are bound by the same rules of confidentiality. In some situations cell phones, text messages, emails, and other forms of electronic communication may be used by counselors to contact clients. Please note that cell phone records, email and texting are NOT a confidential means of communication. Please discuss the use of these forms of communication with your counselor.

CHARIS may use outside professional businesses for billing, administrative assistance and collection purposes. These businesses are under the same HIPAA regulations (see below) as CHARIS to use appropriate safeguards to prevent the misuse or disclosure of your personal health information.
13What about HIPAA and the Notice of Privacy Practices?
HIPAA

NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY

We are required to provide this Notice to you by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). As part of our professional practice, we maintain personal information about you and your health. State and federal laws protect your health information by limiting its uses and disclosures. “Protected health information” (“PHI”) is information about you, including demographic information, that may identify you or be used to identify you, and that relates to your past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care services, or the past, present or future payment for the provision of health care.

Your Rights Regarding Your PHI. You have the following rights regarding PHI we maintain about you:

Right of Access to Inspect and Copy. You have the right, which may be restricted only in certain circumstances, to inspect and copy PHI that we maintain about you. We may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for copying and transmitting your PHI. To receive a copy of your PHI, you may make a written request to our office.

Right to Amend. If you believe the PHI we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend the information although we are not required to agree to the amendment.

Right to an Accounting of Disclosures. You have the right to request a copy of the required accounting of disclosures that we make of your PHI.

Right to Request Restrictions. You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the use or disclosure of your PHI for treatment, payment, or health care operations. We are not required to agree to your request.

Right to Request Confidential Communication. You have the right to request that we communicate with you in a certain way or at a certain location. We will accommodate reasonable requests without asking for your rationale. Right to a Copy of this Notice. You have the right to a copy of this notice.

Right of Complaint. You have the right to file a complaint in writing with Dr. Bart Fowler or with the Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe we have violated your privacy rights. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES, PLEASE CONTACT OUR PRIVACY OFFICER AT 11802 NE 117TH AVENUE, VANCOUVER, WA 98663 (360) 891-2000

Examples of How We May Use and Disclose PHI About You
Listed below are examples of the uses and disclosures that we may make of your protected health information (“PHI”). These examples are not meant to be exhaustive. Rather, they describe types of uses and disclosures that may be made.

Uses and Disclosures of PHI for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations
Treatment. Your PHI may be used and disclosed by us for the purpose of providing you with health care treatment. To coordinate and manage your care, we may disclose your PHI to others of your current providers, and to the extent you have not raised an objection in writing, to your prior providers, or to other persons, including family members, involved in your care.

Payment. We may use your PHI in connection with billing statements we send to you. With your authorization, we may disclose your PHI to third party payers to obtain information concerning benefit eligibility, coverage, and remaining availability, as well as to submit claims for payment. We may disclose PHI for medical necessity and quality assurance reviews.

Health Care Operations. We may use and disclose, as needed, your PHI for the health care operations of our professional practice in support of the functions of treatment and payment. Such disclosures would be to Business Associates to provide planning, quality assurance, peer review, administrative, legal, or financial services to assist us in the delivery of your health care.

Other Uses and Disclosures Not Requiring Your Authorization or Opportunity to Object

When Required by Law. We may use or disclose your PHI to the extent that the use or disclosure is required by law, made in compliance with the law, and limited to the relevant requirements of the law. Examples are public health reports, notifying appropriate health authorities regarding particular communicable diseases, abuse and neglect reports, law enforcement reports, and reports to coroners and medical examiners in connection with investigation of deaths. In addition, we must make disclosures to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of investigating or determining our compliance with the requirements of the Privacy Rule.

For Health Services Oversight. We may disclose your PHI to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as our professional licensure. Oversight agencies may include government agencies and organizations that audit their provision of financial assistance (such as third-party payers).

Abuse or Neglect. We may disclose your PHI to a state or local agency authorized by law to receive reports of abuse or neglect. The information we disclose is limited to that information which is necessary to make the mandated report.

Threat to Health or Safety. We may disclose PHI when necessary to minimize an imminent danger to the health or safety of you or any other individual.

Criminal Activity on Our Business Premises. We may disclose your PHI to law enforcement officials if you have committed a crime on our premises or against our staff. Appointment Reminders. We may use your PHI to contact you to remind you of your appointments or for the purposes of rescheduling appointments.

Business Associates. We may disclose your PHI to Business Associates that are contracted by us to perform health care operations or payment activities on our behalf, which may involve their collection, use, or disclosure of your PHI. Our contract with them must require them to safeguard the privacy of your PHI.

Compulsory Process. We will disclose your PHI if a court of competent jurisdiction issues an appropriate order. We will disclose your PHI if (1) we have been notified in writing at least fourteen days in advance of a subpoena or other legal demand, (2) no qualified judicial or administrative order has been obtained, (3) we have received satisfactory assurances that you received notice of an opportunity to have limited or quashed the discovery demand, and (4) such time has elapsed.

Uses and Disclosures of PHI With Your Written Authorization

We may make other uses and disclosures of your PHI with the written authorization of you or your personal representative. You may revoke this authorization in writing at any time, unless we have already taken an action in reliance on the authorization of the use or disclosure you permitted. An example would be continuing to bill for health care services already rendered.

This Notice
This Notice of Privacy Practices informs you how we may use and disclose your protected health information (“PHI”) and your rights regarding PHI. We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your PHI and to provide you with notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to your PHI. We are required to abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices. We reserve the right to change the terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices at any time. Any new Notice of Privacy Practices will be effective for all PHI that we maintain at that time. We will make available a revised Notice of Privacy Practices by providing you a copy upon your request, posting it on a web site, and providing a copy to you at your next appointment.

Complaints
If you believe we have violated your privacy rights, you may file a complaint in writing to our Privacy Officer, specified in this Notice. We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint. You may also file a complaint with the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The effective date of this HIPAA Notice is April 14, 2003.

What if I have a complaint or grievance?

CHARIS Counseling Associates is committed to providing the highest level of professional services. Even with our best efforts there are times that we don’t measure up to our standards. Most complaints are isolated incidents we resolve quickly. We review all complaints, however, so we may identify any patterns that need to be changed.

If you have a complaint we would encourage you to first try to resolve the concern with your therapist. If a difficulty remains, you may obtain a Comments, Complaints and Feedback form from our office, download from the website (click here) or contact the Executive Director at 360-891-2000 ext 109. Please mail your completed complaint form to Executive Director, CHARIS Counseling Associates, 11802 NE 117th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98662.

CHARIS has some of the finest professional counselors in the State of Washington. However, if you believe that the actions of a counselor were inappropriate or may have caused mental or physical harm to you or someone else, you should consider filing a complaint with the Washington State Department of Health. For more information on what is a violation and how to file a complaint see the Washington State Department of Health website at http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/FileComplaintAboutProviderorFacility/HealthProfessionsComplaintProcess.aspx or request a HSQA Complaint Intake, Post Office Box 47857, Olympia, WA 98504-7857. Phone: 360.236.4700. Email: HSQAComplaintIntake@doh.wa.gov