Public health insurance coverage for online counselling with therapist from my native country

6 posts in this topic

Hi,

I wanted to know if AOK would re-imburse me for counselling sessions taken from a therapist from my native country (I am non-EU), whilst still being in Germany physically? They do therapy online with me weekly and I have found them to be more relatable and helpful as they are from my country and understand my problems better. I have already had an initial couple of sessions in Berlin and I was recommended counselling at MSB in Berlin - I am on their waiting list. I also see a psychiatrist for medicine transcription and now just started seeing him once a month for therapy but we have communication issues. 

How can I get reimbursed from AOK? The therapist from my country is also comparatively cheaper - charges 160 euros per month for four sessions.

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25 minutes ago, john g. said:

Surely the easiest thing to do is just call AOK and ask them?🙏🏻

IMO, post of the day.

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(FYI - Beratungspsycholgie is the term they use here, which is really a poor translation.  Everyone translates beratung as advice.  Good counselors never, ever give advice.)
 
When you call AOK, have your reasons in front of you.  You need more than "relatable".  If you're counselor is based in America, then they are trained in techniques that psychologists here are not trained in.  I was a counselor in the US for nearly 25 years.  I've found counseling here to be just about that far behind.  I am astounded at what I hear from people who have been in therapy telling me about their experiences and stunned at what their therapists don't know.  I worked at a school here, just a few years ago, with a gal who was telling me all about the newest thing: systems therapy!  [eyeroll].  I studied that back in the very early 80's and it wasn't considered all that new then.  I asked about the different types of systems therapy, which one she liked best.  It's taught as a blanket technique.  It's not.  There are different ways of intervening in a system and... oops.  This is not a course on systems therapy.  

In fact, counseling here isn't really counseling.  It's all psychotherapy.  It isn't solution-focussed.  It's digging deep into understanding the problem.  When I take my car to the mechanic, I need it fixed.  I don't need to understand how an internal combustion engine works.  Just fix the car!  What I do need to know is how to maintain the car: change the oil, put gas in it, keep the windshield clean and regularly change the wiper blades, wash and wax it, make sure my headlights, tail lights, and blinkers aren't out, who to call if a tire blows out.  I need the sorts of things that keep it running smoothly and legally on the road.  That's counseling.  Psychotherapy is getting your engine rebuilt.  Most people don't need that, yet that's what they get here.  

•You want solution-focused counseling (or whatever you want), not psychotherapy, from a licensed therapist who is trained in this.  (I'm assuming your counselor from your home is trained in what you want and qualified to take insurance payments in your home country)
•You need someone who understands your native culture.  Our native culture is a large part of who we are.  Even being Western myself, I came here when I was nearly 50.  Even though I look like the people around me and sometimes there is an old fart who murmurs to me about "Schwarze" thinking I will sympathize, the young kids of color who grew up here are far more culturally German than I will ever be, even though my husband is German.

•You need counseling in your mother tongue.  Communication and understanding is important in counseling.  If you are struggling for words, that doesn't double the problem you are there for, it quadruples it.  You would need a super-fluent therapist, not just in conversational language, but in more nuanced and reflective language.
•Finding all the above in a man or woman here may also be an issue, if the sex of your counselor is important.  Sometimes this doesn't matter.  Sometimes it does.
•Perhaps the nature of your "issue" (my students would say, "Ms. S, I got issues, you got time for me today?) is such that changing therapists mid-stream would be problematic and cause set-backs.

I hope this is helpful and that you are feeling better soon.  It can be especially hard when you are far away from home.  I understand you asking here first.  I am lucky in that my husband navigates things for me with his German.  It's too hard learning a language in your 50s.  I will never be fluent.  I can get by pretty well, but anything beyond regular conversation is hopeless.  I would have asked around before making the call to AOK, too.
 

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On 8/19/2020, 9:40:09, Storydale said:

(FYI - Beratungspsycholgie is the term they use here, which is really a poor translation.  Everyone translates beratung as advice.  Good counselors never, ever give advice.)
 
When you call AOK, have your reasons in front of you.  You need more than "relatable".  If you're counselor is based in America, then they are trained in techniques that psychologists here are not trained in.  I was a counselor in the US for nearly 25 years.  I've found counseling here to be just about that far behind.  I am astounded at what I hear from people who have been in therapy telling me about their experiences and stunned at what their therapists don't know.  I worked at a school here, just a few years ago, with a gal who was telling me all about the newest thing: systems therapy!  [eyeroll].  I studied that back in the very early 80's and it wasn't considered all that new then.  I asked about the different types of systems therapy, which one she liked best.  It's taught as a blanket technique.  It's not.  There are different ways of intervening in a system and... oops.  This is not a course on systems therapy.  

In fact, counseling here isn't really counseling.  It's all psychotherapy.  It isn't solution-focussed.  It's digging deep into understanding the problem.  When I take my car to the mechanic, I need it fixed.  I don't need to understand how an internal combustion engine works.  Just fix the car!  What I do need to know is how to maintain the car: change the oil, put gas in it, keep the windshield clean and regularly change the wiper blades, wash and wax it, make sure my headlights, tail lights, and blinkers aren't out, who to call if a tire blows out.  I need the sorts of things that keep it running smoothly and legally on the road.  That's counseling.  Psychotherapy is getting your engine rebuilt.  Most people don't need that, yet that's what they get here.  

•You want solution-focused counseling (or whatever you want), not psychotherapy, from a licensed therapist who is trained in this.  (I'm assuming your counselor from your home is trained in what you want and qualified to take insurance payments in your home country)
•You need someone who understands your native culture.  Our native culture is a large part of who we are.  Even being Western myself, I came here when I was nearly 50.  Even though I look like the people around me and sometimes there is an old fart who murmurs to me about "Schwarze" thinking I will sympathize, the young kids of color who grew up here are far more culturally German than I will ever be, even though my husband is German.

•You need counseling in your mother tongue.  Communication and understanding is important in counseling.  If you are struggling for words, that doesn't double the problem you are there for, it quadruples it.  You would need a super-fluent therapist, not just in conversational language, but in more nuanced and reflective language.
•Finding all the above in a man or woman here may also be an issue, if the sex of your counselor is important.  Sometimes this doesn't matter.  Sometimes it does.
•Perhaps the nature of your "issue" (my students would say, "Ms. S, I got issues, you got time for me today?) is such that changing therapists mid-stream would be problematic and cause set-backs.

I hope this is helpful and that you are feeling better soon.  It can be especially hard when you are far away from home.  I understand you asking here first.  I am lucky in that my husband navigates things for me with his German.  It's too hard learning a language in your 50s.  I will never be fluent.  I can get by pretty well, but anything beyond regular conversation is hopeless.  I would have asked around before making the call to AOK, too.
 

Thank you so much for responding, your response made me feel a bit better. I will call them and explain that I need a counsellor from my culture so that it is easier for them to understand the context.
 

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