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90833 Explained

September 21, 20232 min read

Unlocking Mental Health Billing: A Guide to CPT Code 90833

Introduction - What are CPT Codes?

In the realm of mental healthcare, providing comprehensive and effective treatment is essential. However, it's equally important to ensure that you are appropriately reimbursed for the services you provide. One tool that mental health prescribers need to understand is the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code 90833. In this blog post, we will explain what CPT code 90833 is. Future blog posts will explore details of how it is used. For more information, try one of our courses or sign up for coaching at debbiegranick.com!

Step 1: Understanding CPT Codes

CPT codes are a standardized system used in healthcare billing to describe medical, surgical, and diagnostic services. They serve as a common language between healthcare providers and insurance companies, facilitating the billing and reimbursement process.

Step 2: CPT Code 90833 Explained

CPT code 90833 specifically relates to time-based psychotherapy services provided by mental health prescribers, when provided on the same day as an Evaluation and Management (E/M) service.

Step 3: What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy aims to improve mental and emotional well being. A few key terms are helpful for understanding what constitues therapeutic services. Let's break down the elements of psychotherapy codes overall:

Individual Psychotherapy: CPT code 90833 applies to one-on-one (a family member can be involved) therapy sessions between a mental health provider and a patient. These sessions are highly personalized to address the individual's unique mental health needs with the goal of improving function. Most commonly, therapeutic interventions fall into these categories:

  1. Insight-Oriented: This description of psychotherapy encompasses add on therapy sessions aimed at helping the patient gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It often involves exploring the root causes of their mental health issues.

  2. Behavior Modifying: Prescribers using CPT code 90833 may also work on modifying and improving the patient's behaviors. This can include developing coping strategies, changing negative thought patterns, and encouraging healthier habits.

  3. Supportive Psychotherapy: Sometimes, patients require emotional support and guidance rather than deep exploration. CPT code 90833 also covers sessions that provide such support, as long as that support is delivered with clinical skill beyond what they would get from a friend!


CPT code 90833 is a valuable tool in the mental health prescriber's toolkit for ensuring fair compensation for their services. By understanding the nuances of this code and following proper billing practices, mental health professionals can provide high-quality care to their patients while also safeguarding their practice's financial health. Combining therapy with prescribing not only benefits you but also contributes to improved access to mental healthcare for those who need it most. Check back for more information about how to use add on psychotherapy in your practice.

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