Psychotherapy is the treatment of mental illness and other behavioral disturbances in which the physician or other qualified health professional, through definitive therapeutic communication, attempts to alleviate the emotional disturbances, reverse or change maladaptive patterns of behavior, and encourage personality growth and development.
Psychotherapy current procedural terminology (CPT©) codes 90832-90838 describe face to face encounters with patients and or family members that are performed either alone or performed along with medical evaluation and management (E/M) services. To report both E/M services as well as psychotherapy services by the same physician the two services must be separately identifiable. A separate diagnosis is not required for the reporting of E/M and psychotherapy on the same date of service.
Time is only counted as the time spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family member. When codes have sequential typical times attached to them, as with the basic psychotherapy codes, the code that is closest to the typical time should be selected.
A unit of time is attained when the halfway mark is passed. For example, if a patient is seen for more than 16 minutes you may code using 90832, the 30-minute code. If a patient is seen for 35 minutes, you would also use 90832 as it has not met the threshold of time for the next code. If the patient is seen for 40 minutes, you would use 90834 would be assigned.