Smooth and Secure Use of Phone, Text, Email, and Video to Meet Modern Clients Where They Are: Legal-Ethical and Real-World Considerations

Course Materials

Module 1: Security, Privacy, and the Internet
Unit 1: What Happens to Client Info on the Internet
Unit 2: Clients’ Rights to Unsecure Email, Texting, etc.
Module 2: How Clients and Therapists Use the Internet
Module 3: Professional Practices and the Internet
Unit 1: Internet Communications and Record-Keeping
Unit 2: Boundaries and Professionalism in Internet Communications
Wrapping It Up

Syllabus

1. Using the Internet to communicate with clients

    • Where is my client’s information? Easily and simply understanding what is happening to sensitive client info when we email, text, make phone calls, or do a video call.
    • HIPAA and professional ethical standards around communicating by email, texting, phone, and videoconferencing.
    • Using security policies to keep client information confidential and safe2. Accommodating clients’ desire for unsecured emails, text messages, etc.
    • Clients’ privacy choices under HIPAA

2. The 2 things to take care of when sending unsecured emails or texts to clients

    • Setting office policies and working with clients around safety in unsecured email and texting
    • Client-centered secure alternatives to unsecure communications

3. Legal-ethical and practical issues in different client communication circumstances

    • Initial contact to start services
    • Exchange of intake-related forms and info
    • Administrative communications with the client, including billing
    • Telehealth sessions
    • Therapist-client communication between sessions
    • Releases of records, superbills, and other highly-sensitive documents to clients

4. Choosing services and using them to meet client needs

    • What goes wrong when we use the wrong services
    • Legal-ethical and client-centered needs in service selection

5. Record-Keeping Issues

    • HIPAA standards around retaining information
    • What to document about emails, texts, phone calls, and video sessions
    • How to document emails, text messages, and any other textual communications

6. Boundaries and professionalism in email and texting

    • Timing: When to exchange messages with clients?
    • Content: What to say in messages exchanged with clients?

7. Using Communications Policies to guide clinician and client through Internet-based communications

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