Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my child needs the services offered by the SIMHS?
  • Is your child suffering from a trauma that has affected his or her behavior or mental state in a negative way?
  • Are your family relationships getting worse and worse?
  • Is your infant failing to reach common developmental milestones?
  • Is your teenager showing signs of drinking or experimenting with drugs?
  • Is your teenager failing in school or at risk of dropping out?
  • Are you looking for a top-quality educational and social environment for your preschooler that also offers educational, vocational, and family skills training for you?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a parent?
  • Is your child always in trouble at school?
  • Do you think your child would benefit from talking to a professional counselor?
These are just a few of the types of problems that are addressed and, in most cases, resolved, by the SIMHS’s comprehensive programs and services that assist 5,000 children and their families each year.
How do I make an appointment?
When you are ready, reach for the telephone. Our Rapid Intake system makes it easy. Just call our central number –
718-442-2225 – and request an appointment for outpatient mental health counseling. The Registrar will suggest the SIMHS mental health center closest to your home: the Chait Center, 669 Castleton Avenue; or the Dr. Kenneth Popler Children’s Center, 444 St. Mark’s Place. There are no waiting lists. You can just walk in and you will be able to talk with one of our highly skilled professional clinicians.
If you need services for a preteen, teen or young adult who may need treatment for alcohol/drug abuse, call our ASAP Program at 718-720-6727. 
If you are concerned that your child may have a developmental or intellectual challenge, learning disability or neurological impairment, please call the SIMHS’s  Elizabeth W. Pouch Center for Special People at 718-448-9775. Your call will be handled by a professional, who will answer your questions and schedule an evaluation if needed.
 What happens during my first visit?
During the first half hour, you will fill out and sign various forms giving information on your family, financial information, and consent forms to enable the SIMHS to obtain certain information. Then you will spend about an hour in an “intake interview” with a professional clinician. You will discuss your reasons for seeking treatment for your child, what to expect during subsequent visits, work out a tentative schedule for sessions, and set your goals.
What should I bring with me when I come for the first time?
  • Birth certificate(s)
  • Insurance card(s)
  • Any school reports in your possession
  • Report of most recent physical exam
  • Divorce/custody documents
  • Proof of income if you are going to pay out-of-pocket.
What kind of insurance does the SIMHS accept?
The SIMHS accepts most health insurance carriers including Medicaid and Medicare.
Clients with Medicaid coverage also qualify for carfare reimbursement.
What if I don’t have insurance?
Our fees are based on a sliding scale. Some programs are cost-free.
Are the things that I tell the therapist or other staff members confidential?
According to federal, New York State, and New York City statutes, all patient information is confidential. In the event that information is obtained that poses a danger to your child, confidentiality will be broken to ensure your child’s safety. For further information refer to our Privacy Policy section.
What type of clinicians work at the SIMHS? What are the differences between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a social worker?
The SIMHS has psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers on its clinical staff. All of our clinicians have earned advanced degrees in their field and are licensed in New York City and State.
A psychiatrist is a New York State-licensed M.D. who has completed medical school and a two-year post-doctoral residency in psychiatry. A child psychiatrist has completed an additional two years of training in child psychiatry. Psychiatrists and child psychiatrists can apply to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for certification in their specialties, which requires a higher level of training and passing an examination. The SIMHS requires its psychiatrists to be board-certified or eligible.
A New York State-licensed psychologist must have a doctorate from an accredited college or university, have two years of supervised experience, one year of which may be predoctoral, and must pass a state licensing exam. A psychologist who has earned a special diploma in Clinical Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology is considered a Board-Certified Clinical Psychologist. Also, a psychologist who provides clinical services to the public is usually approved by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. The SIMHS requires its psychologists to hold or be eligible for a Ph.D. or Psy.D.
A social worker has earned a Master’s degree (M.S.W. or equivalent) from an accredited college or university. (A social worker can also have a doctoral level degree.) To be certified as a social worker in New York State, the individual must have completed two “field-work” placements and must pass a New York State Certification Examination. A social worker can also be designated as a Qualified Clinical Social Worker by the National Association of Social Workers. The SIMHS requires its social workers to hold an M.S.W. or higher degree and be licensed in New York State.
As to which is the best type of clinician to help you with your problem, once a professional has several years of clinical experience, the actual degree may become secondary to the amount and type of experience. For example, if your situation requires a skilled family therapist, the specific professional degree may be less important than the clinician’s training and experience in family therapy.
However, situations that need medical intervention, such as evaluation for hospitalization or medication, may be performed only by a psychiatrist.