Video Presentation Skills in Telemental Health, Both Basic and Intermediate

2 CE Credit Hours. Self-Study Seminar w/ Videos and Articles.

Presented By: Roy Huggins, LPC NCC; Brian Smith, MBA

This course is included as a piece of bonus material in our full
Telemental Health Certificate Program

This course is also a part of our Telemental Health Basic Starter Pack

Ohio clinicians: this course is not approved by Ohio CSWMFT.

Course Description

Man putting on headset for video session

Whether you call it telemental health, distance counseling, or one of a million other names, your mental picture of remote therapy almost certainly involves video software. As any veteran of the practice can tell you, though, just firing up your favorite video program and calling the client isn’t enough. Bad lighting can obscure facial expressions, bad camera placement can leave you looking up a client’s nose, small differences in microphone setup can cause super-distracting echo, and more.

The good news is that the problems of presenting on video are pretty easily solved with creativity, common hardware, and household furniture. The bad news is… well, there isn’t much! Most of the hard parts of video presentation are handled by decent quality hardware and the kinds of secure, therapy-quality video software products that are currently proliferating within the mental health field. Improving your video presentation — and learning to help clients improve theirs — is one of the most exciting and enjoyable ways you can significantly improve your clinical effectiveness over telemental health media.

This introductory-level course will take counselors, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and counseling and clinical psychologists through the most basic skills necessary — plus a few intermediate skills — for clinicians and clients to ensure that their video sessions are focused more on the work and less on the tech. We will provide concrete and immediately actionable guidance on lighting, camera placement, eye contact, video resolution, preventing echo, choosing and using microphones and speakers, monitors, dress, the office environment, using the video software’s features appropriately, pre-session setup to avoid technical interruptions, monitor size, sitting distance from the camera, and when to use (or not use) smartphones.

Yep, it’s a lot! But we had a great time creating this dynamic and informative course. We think you’ll enjoy it, too.

Educational Objectives

  • Use the office environment and service delivery software and hardware to create a clinically effective visual and auditory connection with telemental health clients.
  • Assess when clients do not possess equipment or an environment sufficient for clinically effective visual or auditory connections.
  • Assist clients to use their software, equipment, and environment to create clinically effective visual and auditory connections.


  1. Download the Video Presenting Skills checklist. The checklist will help learners follow along with the skills we teach in the course.
  2. Basic Presenting Skills. Learners will cover:
    • Essential lighting basics to ensure a clear view of expression and affect for both therapists and clients.
    • Camera placement that facilitates clear view of expression and affect, as well as enhancing appearance of interpersonal engagement.
    • How video resolution impacts clinical effectiveness and the ways that resolution can be improved or worsened.
    • What echo sounds like during a session and how to stop it.
    • How therapists and clients should choose and use speakers and microphones based on the environment(s) where they engage in telemental health sessions.
    • The impact of monitor size on therapy, with guidance on choosing appropriate monitors — e.g. is the laptop monitor sufficient? Should I get a desktop monitor? How big?
    • How therapists’ and clients’ clothing choices can impact therapy when using the particular kind of video streaming technology that we employ in telemental health.
    • How, much like clothing choices, simple choices regarding items in the office environment can impact the therapy session over vide software.
    • How to use picture-in-picture for great benefit — without slipping into a common mistake that can significantly impede therapy.
    • The ways that typing in session can be beneficial or detrimental.
  3. Intermediate-Advanced skills. After the basic skills, take a break and then dive back in to learn:
    • The science of eye contact over videoconferencing software, and how to position yourself and your tech to enhance your appearance of empathic connection over video. We’ll also cover a special technique for improving eye contact that we call the “distant gaze” technique.
    • How backlighting is not always a bad thing (but usually is.) We’ll cover how to use it purposefully, should you choose to do so.
    • Why video sessions on smartphones are not quite as bad as some might think, but still miss some important marks. We’ll use video demonstration and some reading to give guidance on when it is and isn’t appropriate to use smartphones for video-based telemental health sessions.
    • Simple technical tips for therapists and clients to prepare for a clear and glitch-free video session. Includes a video demonstrating Roy’s pre-session routine for preparing for a good online session.
  4. Full review. We review everything from the course in a little 3-minute video.


  • American Telemedicine Association. (2009). Practice Guidelines for Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health. Author.
  • American Telemedicine Association. (2009). Evidence-Based Practice For Telemental Health. Author.
  • American Telemedicine Association. (2013). Practice Guidelines for Video-Based Online Mental Health Services. Author.
  • American Telemedicine Association. (2014). Core Operational Guidelines for Telehealth Services Involving Provider-Patient Interactions. Author.
  • Chen, M. (2002). Leveraging the asymmetric sensitivity of eye contact for videoconference. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota: ACM Press: 49 – 56.
  • Gale, C., & Monk, A. F. (2000). Where am I looking? The accuracy of video-mediated gaze awareness. Perception & Psychophysics, (62), 586.
  • Gibson, J., & Pick, A. (1963). Perception of Another Person’s Looking Behavior. American Journal of Psychology, pp 386-394.
  • Lord, C. & Haith, M.M. (1974). The perception of eye contact. Perception & Psychophysics, (16), 413.
2 CE Credit Hours.

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.

Brian Smith in a Top Hat and TuxedoBrian Smith, MBA is usually the invisible man behind Person-Centered Tech’s various trainings and offerings. Because of his unique educational background in both theater direction and software engineering, he has come out from behind the curtain to help develop this course.

After majoring in Theater with a focus on the technical side of things, Brian spent fifteen years as a software engineer. (If his educational institution gave out Minors, he would have had a minor in Computer Science, so it wasn’t a complete 180.) Along the way, Brian earned an MBA and helped Roy here and there with Person-Centered Tech. In 2015 Brian left the software industry, became a new father, and dedicated the time remaining after baby care to Person-Centered Tech. He takes care of taxes and accounting, contributes his own technology perspective, tries to get Roy to take some breaks, helps produce PCT’s technical theater-related content, and even writes some software from time to time.

Program Notices

Accuracy, Utility, and Risks Statement: The contents of this program are based primarily on guidelines from the American Telemedicine Association and research cited in their guidelines. Experience of the instructors is also a major contributor. Guidelines or experience from outside those realms is not incorporated, and may provide valuable advice not provided in this course. 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.

2 CE Credit Hours.
Man putting on headset for video session

2 CE Credit Hours. Self-Study Seminar w/ Videos and Articles.


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