How to Text with Your Clients Session 2: Boundaries, Professionalism, and Competence

1 CE Credit Hour. Continuing Education Session Replay.

Developed by: Roy Huggins, LPC NCC
Presented By: Roy Huggins, LPC NCC; Liath Dalton

Course Description

BFFs sharing headphones

Texting: love it or hate it, many clients want it. But engaging in texting with clients raises an array of questions even beyond that basic ones of security and compliance issues which we discussed in part 1 of this 2-part series.

When you write a text message, do you use formal written English or do you type like you’re talking? What is the appropriate and professional way to do it? How do you maintain boundaries with clients who expect quick responses or availability outside your usual hours? What kinds of texting are appropriate for a conventional psychotherapeutic relationship? When does it become telemental health?

This introductory-level course for counselors, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and clinical and counseling psychologists will help learners understand the issues surrounding boundaries and professionalism in texting with clients, and to develop their own approach to maintaining both.

Educational Objectives

  • Manage ethical and effective boundaries around mobile, textual communication with clients
  • Know and maintain the boundaries of the learner’s competency to employ texting an a telemental health context
  • Communicate in a professional manner when using texting with clients


  1. How do professional ethics codes (and other authorities) approach texting with clients?
    • Ethics codes on texting and other “always-on” communication
    • What are ethics codes not addressing about texting-based communication with clients?
  2. How does texting impact therapeutic and personal boundaries?
    • Managing differing cultural expectations around text messaging
    • Establishing and norming boundaries for you and your clients’ needs
  3. How does texting with clients relate to telemental health practice?
    • What is “telemental health”?
    • Working with clients on communication appropriate to the relationship and the tools being used
  4. What are the likely best practices around how to write text messages to clients?
    • Research on texting’s role in English-language communication
    • Creating your own professional voice in texting


  • American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. (2015). Code of Ethics . Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • American Counseling Association. (2014). Code of Ethics . Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • American Psychological Association. (2010). American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct . Washington, DC: Author.
  • American Psychological Association. (2013). Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. Author.
  • American Telemedicine Association. (2009). Practice Guidelines for Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health. Author.
  • Chiad, M. O. (2008). Structural and Linguistic Analysis of SMS Text Messages. Journal of Kerbala University , 6 (4).
  • NASW and ASWB. (2017). Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice. Author.
  • National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of Ethics . Washington, DC: Author.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors. (2016). Code of Ethics . Greensboro, NC: Author.
  • Suler, J. (1999, May). Psychotherapy in Cyberspace A Five Dimensional Model of Online and Computer-mediated Psychotherapy [PDF]. Author. Retrieved Oct 1st, 2016 from
1 CE Credit Hour.

Presented/Developed By

Roy Huggins, LPC NCCRoy Huggins, LPC NCC, is a counselor in private practice who also directs Person-Centered Tech. Roy worked as a professional Web developer for 7 years before changing paths, and makes it his mission to grow clinicians’ understanding of the Internet and other electronic communications mediums for the future of our practices and our professions.

Roy is an adjunct instructor at the Portland State University Counseling program where he teaches Ethics, and is a member of the Zur Institute advisory board. He has acted as a subject matter expert on HIPAA, security and clinical use of technology for Counseling licensure boards and both state and national mental health professional organizations. He has co-authored or authored 2 book chapters, and he routinely consults with mental health colleagues on ethical and practical issues surrounding tech in clinical practice. He served for 5 years on the board of the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association and then the Oregon Counseling Association as the Technology Committee Chair.

He really likes this stuff.

Course Co-Presenters

Liath Dalton is a Ph.D candidate in Religious Studies. She began her academic career at Reed College and continued her graduate work at the University of Cape Town.

Liath is the Deputy Director for Person Centered Tech and runs our HIPAApropriateness review program. Through her combination of experience evaluating products for their utility and security in regards to how they can meet risk management needs and providing guidance to members around what product options will best meet their specific practice needs, Liath has an intimate knowledge of both what the practice tech needs are for mental health professionals and what it takes for a product to meet those needs.

Program Notices

Accuracy, Utility, and Risks Statement: The contents of this program are based on publications and reports from the federal Department of Health and Human Services; consultation with experts on HIPAA Security standards and their implementation; and personal study from the program developers. Some interpretation and analysis presented is made by the presenter, in consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and expert consultants. Statements about applications to technology are according to presenter’s understanding of the technology at the time of the program. The presenter may not know how to apply all principles discussed to every technology type or product. This program discusses strategies for complying with HIPAA and covered ethics codes. It may not include information on all applicable state laws. Misapplication of the materials, or errors in the materials, could result in security problems, data breaches, or non-compliance with applicable laws or ethics codes.

Conflicts of Interest: None.

Commercial Support: None.

This course is subject to our cancellation/refund policy and complaint policy.

1 CE Credit Hour.
BFFs sharing headphones

1 CE Credit Hour. Continuing Education Session Replay.


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