An educational article series in 7 articles, with Further Reading and Resources at the end
Online therapy, aka telemental health, will likely be something that every therapist integrates into their practice by the mid-century. Many therapists find this idea off-putting, but let me assure you that it doesn’t need to be!
We know that a large factor affecting clinical outcomes for telemental health work is the therapist’s comfort and familiarity with the technology and with the procedures and protocols being used. In other words, training and deliberate practice have a very big impact on outcomes.
While telemental health doesn’t have to be loved by everyone (not by any means!), we do encourage our colleagues to consider taking some time to study the ins and outs of working with clients remotely, such as through video. We recommend engaging in this study before, during, and after starting telemental health work.
To help our colleagues do that, we make these free articles available to get them started!
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, called the Online Therapy Primer, which contains most of these articles. If you would like CE credit for your study time, check out the course here. We also have two packages containing series of courses that go well beyond just the primer. Check out the packages here.
The following articles are numbered according to our recommended reading order. We also split them into “Legal-Ethical Issues” and “Tech and Clinical Issues” sections. Of course you may buck our system and read them however you wish.
Legal-Ethical Issues in Online Therapy
The first article is just what it says on the tin: it’s a survey of how to get started in doing online therapy. Enjoy!
A short primer on how to get started doing online therapy, sometimes called “Skype therapy,” with lots of links to help you find your way.
This next topic is a big source of angst in the telemental health world right now. Licensing boards are researching the question all over the United States, with the answer often being some form of, “yes, you do.” As such, we will update this article as new developments arise.
We learn new therapy modalities and mediums in a variety of ways, and telemental health is simply yet another medium. But do ethical standards or laws *require* training before we can engage in the practice?
You’re probably thinking, “Duh, everyone knows about the problem of cross-state practice by now.” Fortunately, that’s starting to become true. We find that understanding of the details is still hazy, though. So we continue to update and recommend this next article.
The simple answer to the question of cross-state mental health practice is, at this time in history, “only with a fair amount of logistical work and a dash of good luck.” Yep, that’s the simple answer. 🙂 Let’s take a deeper look at it so we can do that logistical work and put ourselves in the way of that good luck!
Not everyone needs this next article, but it’s always useful from an academic perspective to think about what it’s like to expand practice beyond our legal, cultural, and linguistic borders. Please bear in mind that you should think about the legal-ethical issues in international practice even if you’re working with a domestic client who is traveling abroad.
International online therapy means a lot of jurisdictions and complexity. But it’s definitely achievable if know before you go (and start doing it)!
Tech and Clinical Issues in Online Therapy
So this next article isn’t *just* about Skype. It helps us to understand what makes a piece of tech acceptable or not acceptable, and how that standard can change as the environment around us changes!
Most of us know that Skype is no longer seen as suitable for online therapy. But many of us don’t know why, or that it will happen to other software, too!
I wrote this next article in response to the numerous complaints I heard about certain pieces of video software supposedly performing poorly. The truth is that most of the telemental health video software options on the market work just fine. Poor performance is most likely caused by problems in the tech setup on the therapist’s end, the client’s end, or both. This article helps you to troubleshoot that and set yourself up for success.
A delicate intervention is blocked by chopping or freezing. Or the connection is so bad there’s just no doing therapy at all. What can we do to fix that?
Eye contact over video has long been a hobgoblin for therapists considering the idea of telemental health. The truth is that it can work very well by video, but the way to make it work may not be obvious at first!
Making eye contact over video is less difficult than it may seem, and you wouldn’t believe what the best way to do it is!
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.
2016: a brave new HIPAA era, recognizing that mental health pros need Business Associate Agreements. We rank free online therapy software with HIPAA BAAs
HIPAA forms like the Notices of Privacy Practices, BAAs, Risk Analysis Tools, and more can be found for free from a number of helpful sources. We list our favs.
When I started practicing, I didn’t even want to put records on my computer. Now I frequently recommend putting everything you can on the cloud. Here’s why.
Some claim that electronic records are safer than paper because of encryption. This statement is at once totally right and dangerously wrong.