318 E. Branch Street Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

F.A.Q

frequently asked question

Do you have any Questions?

Below you’ll find answers to some of the frequently asked questions. We'll add more to this page as questions come up.

Neurodiversity is a fact of life - we all have different nervous systems and brains. The Neurodiversity Paradigm views different brains as naturally occurring variations to be understood on their own terms. It is in opposition to the medical model that sees all differences as pathological.


While some brain differences cause difficulties (for example, brain injuries or PTSD), many others come with a pattern of strengths and weaknesses to be honored and accommodated, instead of altered or oppressed. The Neurodiversity Movement is a social justice movement pushing for acceptance, self-determination, and the end of stigma and mistreatment of Neurodivergent* people.


*Neurodivergent means any person whose brain and/or nervous system works different enough from the norm that it contributes to difficulties living, often due to stigma and prejudice.

Yes, most of our practice is now done via telehealth. We have therapists licensed in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Idaho. We also see clients in other countries that have elected to allow clinicians from other jurisdictions to serve their citizens. Please check with your local regulatory board for more information.

Yes, but we have limited availability. We currently have therapists in the San Luis Obispo, South Bay of Los Angeles, and Oakland areas. In person assessment is only available in San Luis Obispo. If you prefer in-person therapy and are far from these locations, we can help find you a referral.

A strong cell signal or internet connection is required. You will usually need to allow access to your phone or computer's microphone and camera. In addition, you will need to find a place where you feel comfortable with the level of privacy and background noise. Sometimes clients prefer to communicate through texting or phone calls instead of video. We are accepting of these choices, although there may be confidentiality issues that arise as a result. We will speak to you in further detail if you request this. Telehealth can be accessed through a web browser on a computer, or an app on phone or tablet.

$175-$300 for Licensed Clinicians


$150-$200 for Associates and Psychological Assistants.

We accept Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Zelle.

In general we do not work with any insurance companies. We have found working with insurance companies requires exhorbitant time and effort that yields poor results, including introducing a third regulatory party into the therapeutic relationship with goals in opposition to how we do work.


We can provide you with a Superbill to submit to your insurance company, if they will do out-of-network reimbursement. Please check with your insurance company to ask if they provide out-of-network coverage, at what percentage out-patient mental health is reimbursed, and their guidelines for submitting claims. Also please be aware that deductibles will often have to be met before receiving any reimbursement. For assessments, you may need a pre-authorization for any reimbursement.

Our therapists try to maintain multiple sliding scale spots at different financial levels, but these fill up quickly. Please consult with your preferred therapist about your situation and their ability to accept reduced fees.

Call or text (424)254-9101, email info@totalspectrumcounseling.com, or complete the contact form at the bottom of our website. Let us know your name, if you are interested in therapy or assessment, where you are located, and any other details that might be useful in finding the right therapist for you.

Someone should get back to you within one week. If you haven’t heard back by that time, please feel free to try again. Frankly, as neurodivergent practitioners, we often get behind with the large number of requests we receive. This is not personal, and it is perfectly acceptable to contact us again.

Our practice does not currently have a psychiatrist/prescriber on staff. If you need a referral please contact us and we’ll do our best to find a neurodiversity affirmative prescriber. We are working on finding a prescriber for our own staff in line with our practice’s values.

Associates have often completed their degrees, have hundreds of hours of therapy experience, and are supervised by our licensed therapists and psychologists. They have yet to complete the clinical hours and testing to practice independently. Their work is closely supervised by our licensed therapists, who are available to you if you need to discuss any issues with your associate therapist.


Additionally, all therapists in our practice have extensive experience with neurodivergence, either lived experience or active involvement in the Neurodiversity Movement. For our Neurodivergent clients, all the therapists at Total Spectrum Counseling likely have more extensive relevant experience than therapists from elsewhere who have been licensed for years.

Our waitlist for assessments is 5-6 months, typically.


Each therapist’s availability varies. The nature of therapy is that there is always someone transitioning out at some point. Depending on when an opening comes up, what their waitlist is like, and your availability, we will try to find you a spot as soon as possible.

We ask you to cancel at least 24 hours in advance in order to not be billed for the session, however there are exceptions in case of emergency. Talk to your therapist when you schedule sessions about their cancellation policy and your specific needs. If you have executive functioning difficulties, we will help you set up systems to remember your appointment.

During your first session, your therapist will get to know you, and begin to learn about how you best connect and communicate. This can feel more like a friendly conversation than a clinical encounter. We will formulate therapeutic aims together based on your life goals and values. Your therapist may provide several forms to be completed before or during this visit, depending on your needs. Many people feel shy or wary of sharing too much information up front, and that is completely normal. We will get to know you at a pace with which you feel comfortable.

Sessions are most commonly 50 minutes, weekly for individual therapy, or 80 minutes weekly for family or couples therapy. At times, multiple sessions a week may be warranted. Although we occasionally see people every other week or monthly, this is usually only done when clients have made substantial progress and are maintaining gains. We have found that any frequency less than weekly results in difficulty getting into issues with the depth needed to truly help. Sessions for assessments can be longer or done on a different timeline (see below for more details).

Typically therapy is a long-term process, of at least 6 months. How long you work with us will always be up to you and your therapist to decide together. We invite you to reach out to your therapist or their supervisor if you feel displeased with your therapy. We are trained to listen to these concerns and work with you to pivot as needed.

Psychological assessment utilizes a detailed history, formal structured interviews, questionnaires, and other psychological tests to understand how your mind works. This can be to seek a formal diagnosis, clarify therapy goals, understand educational or vocational needs, throw light on career goals, obtain authorization for surgical procedures, or understand personality dynamics that may contribute to life difficulties.

Assessment usually takes place over multiple meetings over a few weeks. First, a detailed history is gathered. Then a client will be asked to participate in various psychological tests – some paper and pencil, some responding to the psychologist. Finally, a detailed report is written over the next month or two and shared in a feedback session.

The cost ranges from $1800-$4800, depending on need (see below). Dr. Joel Schwartz will travel to perform assessments with travel time added to the assessment cost.


We have three “tiers” of assessment.


Tier 1 – Autism/ADHD exploration – includes interview, some formal assessments, and brief write up - 1 page history, 1-2 page summary of tests, diagnosis, recommendations. -$1800


Tier 2 - Comprehensive Autism or ADHD assessment including full report - $3500 - usually necessary for accommodations or services and goes more deeply into specific skills and difficulties.


Tier 3 – Comprehensive Assessment – May include IQ/Achievement testing, if needing to test for both ADHD and autism as well as other things (trauma/psychosis/bipolar) as well as specific learning disabilities or other learning/cognitive issues - $4800.

When we can, we strive to help Neurodivergent clients connect with Neurodivergent or Neurodiversity affirmative therapists. Please email info@totalspectrumcounseling.com, or complete the website contact form and specify that you are looking for a referral. We can’t promise that we can find someone local or who takes your insurance, but we do our best. Please also refer to ndtherapists.com for referrals.

Coaching is typically a brief relationship focusing on specific problems. This may include setting up systems for your success, helping you advocate for yourself, aiding you in problem solving, helping couples or families learn to manage competing sensory needs, etc. Coaching is available worldwide and is not a replacement for psychotherapy.

We provide in person and virtual consultation and education to any size crowd in many different contexts. This includes consultations with other therapists, continuing education courses, conferences, programming for business or school districts, etc. Please contact us if you’d like us to speak on one of our areas of expertise.

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We are here to help you. The first step is always the hardest one to take, and it gets easier once you make that initial call. At Total Spectrum Counseling, you will not be alone on your journey to a more content and meaningful life. Let us help you reach your full potential. We are also on social media. Connect with us below.