Frequently Asked Questions

mental health

What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do? 

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) hold professional licenses as registered nurses AND advanced practice mental health clinicians. PMHNPs are Master's level clinicians with training and expertise in treating psychiatric/substance abuse disorders through diagnosis and prescription of psychiatric medication, if appropriate, to individuals across the lifespan. PMHNP's work with clients on developing tailored psychiatric medication plans and providing ongoing prescription management and monitoring.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can work in hospitals, psychiatric facilities, outpatient clinics, substance abuse programs and residential care facilities. In the state of Massachusetts PMHNPs hold are independently licensed to provide psychiatric care without the supervision of another healthcare provider. Newly licensed clinicians require the collaboration of an established psychiatric  provider (Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing Practice in Psychiatry, or Psychiatrist) for the first 2 years of practice. 

At Safe Harbor Psychiatry we focus on psychiatric medication management with a lesser focus on psychotherapy. We recommend that all clients receiving medication for treatment of mental health disorders work with a licensed therapist on a regular basis in conjunction with taking medication. 

How has COVID-19 impacted direct-client care?

Prior to the start of and COVID-19 pandemic all psychopharmacology and medication management appointments were conducted in-person.

Per new federal regulations that are going into effect on May 11, 2023 all clients who are being prescribed controlled substances (ex. stimulants for ADHD, benzodiazepines, some sleep aids) must be seen IN-PERSON by their prescribed at least once every 12 months.

In an effort to comply with these prescribing guidelines and standards Safe Harbor Psychiatry requires all clients who are taking controlled substances to be seen in person for their initial evaluation and agree to come in-person every 12 months to continue accessing medication through our clinic. As of now we can offer telehealth appointments in between in-person sessions however this may change again in the future.

For all other clients who are NOT taking controlled substances we are able to offer a combination of both in-person and virtual visits (although it is preferred to do the initial appointment in person if at all possible).

To conduct Telehealth appointments our providers are using HIPAA compliant video software Doxy.me to for all virtual visits. We've found that both clients and providers are pleased with the accessibility Telehealth offers. 

We respectfully ask that all clients who are unvaccinated for COIVD-19 be seen via telehealth only. Our clinicians providing in-person services are fully vaccinated and have initiated the following measures to prevent to spread of COVID 19:

+HEPA filters in all offices and waiting rooms with option to wait in your car until your clinician is ready to see you

+Medical disinfectant on all equipment and shared surfaces before and after every appointment

+Hand-sanitizer easily accessible in all common spaces and offices

+Compliance with all CDC and state regulations/guideline re: COVID-19 

*Please note that your provider may request to see you in-person for select visits. Although Telehealth has been a great platform to connect mental health providers with clients during the pandemic there are certain assessments that require in-person visits.

What can I expect during an initial appointment?

During your initial appointment you will meet with a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who will gather information about your past psychiatric history as well as what symptoms you or your child are experiencing currently, bringing you to treatment. The clinician will also leave appropriate time to answer any questions you may have regarding diagnosis, treatment options, medication therapy etc. 

At the end of the appointment the prescriber will collaborate with you to create treatment goals and if appropriate recommend medication treatment and provide a written prescription.

How often can I expect to meet with my prescriber?

Follow-up appointments are scheduled based on symptom presentation/acuity and stability on prescribed medication regimens. All client are required to meet with clinicians at least once every 3 months for check-in appointments. 

At the start of treatment your provider will meet with you on a weekly or monthly basis to monitor your symptoms and evaluate you for any possible side effects of medication. 

All clients are encouraged to reach out in between appointments if they wish to been seen earlier than their scheduled appointment. Our admin team will help you connect with your provider for an earlier appointment.