Money, Credit and Electronic Payments in Clinical Practice

An educational article series in 5 articles, with Further Reading and Resources at the end

Legal-ethical issues around money in mental health practice are probably both the easiest to get right and the easiest to get wrong.

No one wants to prevent us from getting paid, whether it’s HIPAA or professional ethics committees. That’s the good news.

But they facilitate legal-ethical payment processes by carving out certain boundaries that we need to stay in. If we don’t know those specially carved-out boundaries, we can make legal-ethical errors in the ways we run our practices. If we do know them, running our practices within them can be quite easy.

These articles are meant to provide some guidance on staying in that legal-ethical space while helping you streamline your practice management procedures!

What Is This Again?

Person-Centered Tech has been publishing free articles on technology in mental health practice since 2012. The following is a curated series of those articles, painstakingly updated for the current moment and placed in an order to help you get the most benefit from them.

Along these lines, we also offer a continuing education course on Credit/Debit Cards and Electronic Payments in Mental Health Private Practice. If you would like CE credit for your study time, check out the course here.

The following articles are numbered according to our recommended reading order. Of course you may buck our system and read them however you wish.

Seem Like a Lot of Articles To Read At Once??

The Articles

We love to report news that makes your life easier, and this article has quite a bit of it. It’s not all roses, of course, but most of us find the information in this next article quite liberating vis-a-vis responsibilities under HIPAA.

These free, informative articles are brought to you by Brighter Vision!
Wondering why this is here? See our sponsorship policy for details.

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Roy with coffee mugRoy says: Brighter Vision is one of just a few managed web design and hosting services that works exclusively with mental health professionals. We recommend Brighter Vision for therapists who can make good use of: 1) low startup costs for a professionally-designed website and 2) ongoing support with adding, designing and optimizing new pages and blog posts. Learn more about Brighter Vision websites for therapists and get a free month

Electronic payments in private practice are wonderful, and we heartily encourage you to take advantage of them for client convenience and more efficient operation of your practice. One of the challenges of electronic payments, though, is that so much of what’s going on is invisible to you and your clients. As such, we see that there are a couple pieces that therapists should make sure clients know about before diving into the e-payment process. This article should help shed light on those issues.

2) Ethics of Disclosure to Clients Who Pay With Plastic or Online Transfers

Mobile payment apps like Square and online payment services like PayPal make it surpassingly easy for therapists in private practice — or even for small agencies — to accept credit card payments without much upfront investment. Do we need client consent to use these services, however? What kind of information is needed for informed consent? […]

For this next article, I surveyed around 60 therapists to get their opinions on both the ethical and business issues involved. In the end, however, the question is mostly answered by state law, federal law, and credit card company contracts.

These free, informative articles are brought to you by Brighter Vision!
Wondering why this is here? See our sponsorship policy for details.

Brighter Vision Image

Roy with coffee mugRoy says: Brighter Vision is one of just a few managed web design and hosting services that works exclusively with mental health professionals. We recommend Brighter Vision for therapists who can make good use of: 1) low startup costs for a professionally-designed website and 2) ongoing support with adding, designing and optimizing new pages and blog posts. Learn more about Brighter Vision websites for therapists and get a free month

A lot of private practice consultants advise therapists to get a card on file at intake. They advise this for very good reasons, but are often unaware of the varied regulatory concerns involved. Please at least read the following article before enacting such a policy.


RoyThis next one is a premium article. That means that unlike the vast majority of our articles, it is not available to the general public. There are two ways to access it: you can be a paid member of Person-Centered Tech Support (members can just click the link below and start reading now), or you can read them as part of our CE course on credit cards and electronic payments in private practice.

Not interested in the advanced discussion from this premium article? No problem. The free articles continue below this box.

5) What is PCI DSS and Why Do I Care?

EMV Card Reader With Card Inserted PCI DSS is a special set of regulations that we like to call "Credit card HIPAA." If you take credit cards in your practice, you do have to comply with PCI DSS. The good news is that it's quite a bit easier than HIPAA. This article helps make sense of it.

One more step to see this essential information...

To access this content, you must purchase a subscription to Person-Centered Tech Support, Person-Centered Tech Support, Yearly Membership, Person-Centered Tech Support for Small Group Practices, Person Centered Tech Support Extension or HIPAA Security Workbook Early Adopter, or log in if you have a paid membership already.

Person-Centered Tech Support is our full-featured support service that includes all the following:

  • Unlimited access to weekly sessions with Roy to ask whatever you need.
  • 8 CE hours on the basics of HIPAA, ethics, tech and security so you can get oriented to what you need to do.
  • Unlimited access to HIPAA-propriateness Reviews of popular therapy tech products, so you know which products are safe to use and which should be avoided.
  • Unlimited right to request new HIPAA-propriateness Reviews on whatever products you need us to research for you.
  • Unlimited access to the Video Help Center, where helpful, slowly-paced videos take you though essential basics like encrypting your gear.

Learn More→

Further Reading and Resources

We’ve produced a ton of articles on practice tech just for mental health professionals. Below are several that we think are worth reading your way through over time.

These free, informative articles are brought to you by Brighter Vision!
Wondering why this is here? See our sponsorship policy for details.

Brighter Vision Image

Roy with coffee mugRoy says: Brighter Vision is one of just a few managed web design and hosting services that works exclusively with mental health professionals. We recommend Brighter Vision for therapists who can make good use of: 1) low startup costs for a professionally-designed website and 2) ongoing support with adding, designing and optimizing new pages and blog posts. Learn more about Brighter Vision websites for therapists and get a free month