Declaration of Practice and Procedures


This declaration is designed to inform you about the therapeutic process into which you are entering.  As an individual with rights and responsibilities, you should be informed about the treatment process and give your informed consent to that treatment.


Therapist-Client Relationship

The psychotherapy relationship is one in which you and I come together to work as a team, to understand and trust one another.  Our purpose is to define the present problem situations, and develop goals for an improved life. We will work in a systematic fashion to realize your treatment goals.  The counseling relationship does not include my making decisions for the client.  It is the right and responsibility of the client to make his/her own decisions about such things as divorce, marriage, etc.  Instances of extreme violence within the marriage or family may lead to my recommending that certain family members not live together.

I am committed to providing a high quality of family systems psychotherapy that always views the client in context, emphasizes your strengths, promotes your self-direction, promotes a clearer sense of who you are as an individual, and enhances relations with others.  My approach also draws upon structural family theory, cognitive behavioral theory, and communications theory.



· PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, Florida State University, 1992

· Ms in Counseling University of Tennessee, 1972

· Clinical Member American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

· Member Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

· Licensed Marital and Family Therapist in Louisiana #338

· Licensed Marital and Family Therapist in Mississippi #T0153

· Licensed Professional Counselor in Louisiana #2188

· Louisiana LPC/LMFT Board of Examiners, 8631 Summa Avenue, Suite A

        Baton Rouge, LA 70809; telephone 225.765.2515.

Areas of Expertise

· Couples, Family, Individual and Group Psychotherapy

· Trained Instructor, Couple Communication Program

· Certified Prepare/Enrich Counselor for Premarital Counseling

· Helping Teens Make Healthy Choices

· Managing Effects of Severe and Chronic Mental Illness

· Domestic Violence Evaluation & Treatment

· Divorce & Separation

· Child Custody Evaluations—Assessment, Deposition & Trial

· Home-based Family Therapy

· Couple Communication Seminars

· Treatment for depression & anxiety

    Services to the Business Community  

· Team Building and Collaboration

· Communication & Conflict Resolution

· How to Conduct an Effective Meeting:  As Facilitator and Team Player

Insurance and Payment for Service

I accept insurance payment as outlined by most insurance plans, and my office will file insurance claims for you.  Insurance carriers pay a portion of the fees, and you are expected to pay your deductible and co-pay at the time of service.   For those without insurance, fees may be negotiated. At this time, I am not a participating provider for Medicare and Medicaid.

Explanation of the Types of Service Offered and Client Served

(1) I provide individual, couples, group, and family psychotherapy services, primarily serving adults and adolescents age 15 and older.  The initial assessment focuses on what leads the client to seek help and what s/he wants to accomplish.  My work is considered short-term, generally within 20 sessions.

(2) Family, social and medical information is gathered in the first session.  Effects of trauma, addiction, depression, and anxiety are evaluated.  With this information the therapist and client develop the treatment plan together.  Assessment for marital and premarital counseling may include individual sessions with each partner before joint appointments.

(3) If there is a history of physical aggression or severe verbal aggression, each participating family member is offered a confidential individual appointment to discuss matters pertaining to safety—safety at home and in counseling.  For those who want to stay together even though they may have a history of physical violence, I will work with selected couples.  Both must agree to a carefully designed safety plan.

(4) Homework assignments to be completed between sessions are often an integral part of treatment.  For the client to get the most from counseling, completion of the assignment is necessary.

Code of Conduct

As a Louisiana Marital and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor, I am required to adhere to the code of conduct proscribed by the Louisiana licensing board for Professional Counselors and Marital and Family Therapists.  Additionally, I am required to adhere to the ethical principles of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. These codes of conduct are available upon request. You may refer to ; ; or

Privileged Communication and Confidentiality

Privileged communication and confidentiality refers to the material revealed in psychotherapy sessions as defined by Louisiana law.  Accordingly, information will be released upon your written consent.  Verbal authorization for release of information is acceptable only in case of emergency.  It is my policy to assert privileged communication on behalf of the client and the right to consult with the client if at all possible, except during an emergency, before mandated disclosure. 


I am required by law to report to authorities suspected cases of abuse and neglect of children, elders, or the disabled.

If you use insurance, information you have authorized the therapist to disclose may be available for retrieval or review.  Information such as diagnosis, history and treatment plan is routinely obtained by insurance companies, when they approve your use of insurance benefits and payment for services.

· I am required by law to report to authorities instances of danger to self or others when reasonably necessary to protect the client and others from a clear and imminent threat of serious physical harm.

· A court order can mandate disclosure of information.

Psychotherapy material obtained during Marital and Family Therapy may be shared with a spouse or other family members only with the client’s permission.  All parties who participated in a session must agree to sign a release of information.  Any material obtained from a minor client may be shared with the client’s parent or guardian.  Minors are advised that parents must be told of activity that represents a danger to him/her.

Office Hours and Appointments

Weekday appointments generally last 45-50 minutes and are made in advance--usually on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.  Hours are 9AM to 8PM Monday-Thursday; Friday 9AM to 2PM.  The time is reserved for you.  You will be charged for any appointment not cancelled 24 hours in advance.  Cancellations are made through the Front Desk or the Answering Service.  Missed appointments are not billed to insurance and are the sole responsibility of the client.  Weekend sessions and lengthier sessions may be arranged.

Charges: Insurance plans base payment on a 45-minute hour.

        Initial Psychotherapy Evaluation & Assessment (45 minutes)            $110.00

        Psychotherapy (45-50 minutes)                                                           $110.00

        Psychotherapy (30 minutes)                                                                  $55.00

        Hospital Consultation weekdays & weekends, per hour                     $110.00

        Custody Evaluation (face to face time)                                               $110.00

        Custody Evaluation Retainer, per parent                                         $1500.00

        Deposition & Court Testimony, per hour                                            $125.00

        Travel, per hour                                                                                      $62.50

        Missed Appointments and Late Cancellations                                      $75.00

        Letters & Reports, per hour                                                                 $110.00

Emergency Situations

All persons whom I have accepted as clients can receive after-hours assistance if needed, by calling 985.643.5145.  I have a cellular phone; I’m connected to an answering service; and, I take my turn on-call when the office is closed.  If your situation requires that you speak with a clinician, one will be available, although I will not be able to personally respond to all your calls.

If immediate response is needed, go directly to Northshore Regional Medical Center Emergency Room at 104 Medical Center Drive or Slidell Memorial Hospital Emergency Room at 1001 Gause Boulevard.

Do not hesitate to call 911 if you feel unable to transport yourself to a hospital.

Client Responsibilities

· Payment at time of service.

· Follow office procedure regarding appointments.

· Notify me of ongoing relationships with other mental health professionals.

· Allow permission for me to contact any physician or other mental health professional currently treating you.

· If you plan to terminate services with me, prior notification is required before you secure services with another professional.

· Your honesty and effort is essential to success.

Allow me to assist you with referral to another mental health provider who may better serve you. 

Physical Health

I recommend that you have a complete physical examination if you have not had one within the past year.  Each client is asked to complete a detailed health history, listing prescription medications and over-the-counter preparations currently in use.

Potential Risks of Psychotherapy

· Your informed choice at all times will facilitate the best possible counseling outcome. 

· At any time, you may ask for an explanation of why information is gathered or a new approach is recommended.

· Research and family studies teaches how to minimize and steer around emotionally charged issues early in therapy.

· As a result of counseling, you may realize that you have additional concerns, which may not have surfaced prior to the onset of the psychotherapy relationship.

· In marital therapy as one partner changes, additional strain may be placed on the marital relationship particularly if the other partner does not accommodate reasonable change, or if s/he refuses to do their part to lift the strain on the relationship.

It is likely that strain on the marriage will increase if one or both parties pursue individual therapy with different therapists, as a means of addressing marital conflict.

It is possible that the problem you initially sought help for may not be completely resolved through psychotherapy.

Sarah A Tester, PhD, LMFT, LPC Marital and Family Therapist

                                              Clinical Member, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

                         1186 Fremaux Avenue Slidell, LA 70458         Phone: (985)643-5145   Fax: (985)643-6063

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