Three Ways to Make Teletherapy Even More Effective

If you are a counselor, therapist, or psychologist used to seeing clients in the office, the coronavirus has certainly changed the way you work. No more office visits. Everything is now remote. As many mental health professionals struggle to make the transition to teletherapy, become familiar with the platform they are choosing to use, and help their clients adjust, here are three ways to make your teletherapy even more effective.

Teletherapy

1. Invite Your Client To Discuss Their Thoughts About Teletherapy

When clients first come to the office for therapy, it is always helpful to look for ways to make things more comfortable for them. One way to do this is to ask them what it is like for them to come to therapy. From the minute they make the appointment, to the time they step into the office and meet you, often you will find a wealth of information, and in the process, help them feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings, however uncomfortable, with you.

As teletherapy is likely new for many clients, the transition can be a wonderful time to again lay the foundation for your client to express her thoughts to you. One great way to do this is simply to ask your client what teletherapy is like for them. Ask how they feel about not coming to the office, about doing therapy at home, about the process of getting online, or using the telephone, and about not seeing you in person. These questions can serve to make the transition more comfortable for your client, and also help you both navigate any uncomfortable components of teletherapy together.

2. Use Your Client’s Environment

When a client comes to the office, we have already taken steps to set it up in a way that we hope will make clients more comfortable. We may have placed our diplomas on the wall. We may have hung inspirational pictures or quotes. We have probably placed the furniture in a way that will help clients feel relaxed and comfortable.

However, when we use teletherapy, the environment our client is in is set up by our client. They may choose to attend their sessions with you from their office, their living room, or their bedroom. And, like you, they have also placed their furniture in a way that makes them feel comfortable and hung their pictures or paintings in a way that feels right to them.

Their room may be neat and tidy, or messy and disorganized. Whatever the case, you can ask your client to share their environment through video with you. And then, you can ask your client to describe why they have chosen to set up their environment as they have.

Much like your office is a reflection of you, your tastes and preferences, and, to some extent, your beliefs and values, so is your client’s environment. You may even find that there are components of your client’s environment that could be changed to help her feel even better.

3. Send Follow Up Messages

When we see a client in the office, we may have a practice of recapping what we worked on, revisiting the gains and progress they have made, reviewing any homework we assign and preparing for the work ahead. This is a wonderful way to keep the therapy sessions effective, organized, and helpful for the client.

With teletherapy, we have the opportunity to send our client follow-up messages with all of this information, which will make it easier for them to retain. According to HIPPA, “Non-public facing remote communication products would include, for example, platforms such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Whatsapp video chat, Zoom, or Skype. Such products also would include commonly used texting applications such as Signal, Jabber, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, or iMessage.

Typically, these platforms employ end-to-end encryption, which allows only an individual and the person with whom the individual is communicating to see what is transmitted.” Once you choose the platform that works for you and your client, sending messages can be easy, helpful, and effective.

Teletherapy, while it is a big transition for many mental health professionals and clients alike, can be tremendously effective, and you may even find, with a few small steps, even preferable for you and your clients.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities, and ethics of providing therapy online. Click here to learn more.

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!



Telehealth: Quick Tips to Get Started

Telehealth is rapidly growing as we all adjust our lives due to COVID-19. Here are some quick tips and resources to help you get started.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 and resulting pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives, that for many of us, life today almost seems surreal. Non-emergency in-office visits are now a thing of the past and telehealth is being pushed on us. We must keep at least a six-foot distance between ourselves and everyone else. For some of us, curfews have been imposed and only essential travel is allowed. And, in Florida, police are present at state lines, screening entrance into the state.

So, for therapists, counselors, psychologists, and all mental health professionals, the only answer is to turn to telehealth, also known as teletherapy, e-therapy, telemental health, telepractice, and telepsychology (among other names), which means a new learning curve. So here are some quick tips to help you get started:

Understand What Is Allowed And What Is Not

At the time of this writing, the HIPAA rules have been relaxed regarding
telehealth. Specifically, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has authority over HIPAA, states, “A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients.

What that means is that public facing platforms like Facebook Live, Twitch, and Tik-Tok should not be used for providing telehealth. However, platforms like Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, or Skype can be used.

Important to note that the OCR does not endorse any of these. While greater privacy protection can be obtained by using HIPAA-compliant video communication solutions, the relaxation of the HIPAA policy means that non-public facing platforms – which would normally not be allowed – are now allowed, provided that they are used in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth. This means that to the provider’s knowledge, the platform used is private, and not accessible to the public.

Make Every Effort To Provide A Therapeutic Space

It is a given that when a patient enters an office for therapy, the room will be quiet, inviting, and most important, private and free from distractions. When offering therapy over the internet or phone, however, making the space where therapy will be offered similar to what would be expected in traditional therapy will take some effort.

To begin, be sure that the room you work in is quiet. While some things like your neighbor mowing his lawn may not be avoidable, things like the dog barking, kids screaming or playing in the background should be minimized.

Next ensure that the area you choose is one where you will be free from distractions. This may mean using a door sign for family members that reads, “In Session” so they will know not to interrupt you.

Lastly, choose an area where you feel like you can focus. While this may seem obvious, we do put effort into arranging a traditional office not just to be inviting for our clients, but also to help us feel comfortable, safe, inspired, and focused. So take some time to think about where you will feel most comfortable and if needed, create a space for yourself.

Encourage Your Client To Make His/Her Space Therapeutic

Just like it will take some effort on your end to make your space therapeutic, your clients will also need to think about where in their environment will be most quiet, secure, private, and free from distractions. Perhaps they has a home office that be used, a bedroom that is quiet, or even an outside area like a patio, deck, or backyard.

Again, what is most important is that your clients find a place where they truly feel comfortable and can focus without interruption. This may be somewhat challenging, especially with kids at home, however this is all the more reason to encourage your client to take the time to find the appropriate space, before teletherapy or e-therapy sessions begin.

Know Your Resources

Because telehealth is a new format for many of us, it is always helpful to know where to find more information when it is needed. In response to the emergency, HIPAA Journal has worked with Compliancy Group to set up a free hotline for any questions you may have related to HIPAA compliance during the COVID-19 crisis. That number is (800) 231-4096.

The first place to start is by checking with your professional licensing board website to find guidance specific to your state/profession.
https://www.pdresources.org/page/index/17/State-CE-Requirements

Federal Government Guidance on Telehealth

H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, signed into law on March 6, gives states the ability to request waivers that would allow them to use Medicare and Medicaid funds for telehealth services without the “originating site requirement.” Under normal circumstances, patients are required to have one or more face-to-face appointments at a qualifying health care site before Medicare or Medicaid will pay for telehealth services. Counselors are not covered under Medicare, but Medicaid coverage varies by state. Most states cover Medicaid services provided by counselors, but some restrict the types of providers that can furnish telehealth services. States that have waivers approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may lift some restrictions temporarily and begin covering counseling services via telehealth. Several other federal government agencies have released guidance important to behavioral health providers.

The National Association of Medicaid Directors lists contact information for each state Medicaid agency. If you are unsure of the status of Medicaid coverage for counselors providing telehealth in your state, contact your state Medicaid director’s office or govtaffairs@nbcc.org.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also released additional guidance on telehealth for state Medicaid programs and provides general information on telehealth benefits in Medicaid.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have issued guidance on the use of telemedicine for medication-assisted treatment. SAMHSA has also released guidance relating to the prohibitions on use and disclosure of patient identifying information under 442 CFR Part 2.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights has stated it will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers who serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the emergency.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has created Practice Resources in Response to COVID-19 (which includes information on telepsychology and telehealth) available at:
https://www.apaservices.org/practice/clinic?_ga=2.125054154.1107876864.1585682285-731192192.1585682285

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has posted Telepractice Resources During COVID-19 for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists:
https://www.asha.org/About/Telepractice-Resources-During-COVID-19/

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) has developed a COVID-19 Information Page: https://www.nbcc.org/covid-19

The Trust Practice and Risk Management Association (TrustPARMA) also offers a free sample of an informed consent for e-therapy at: https://parma.trustinsurance.com/Workshops-Webinars/Telepsychology.

The Florida House of Representatives has updated their legislation to include standards of practice for telehealth providers in the state of Florida:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/23/BillText/er/PDF

The Florida Department of Health states: “Individual licensed health care professionals are required to use independent judgement or seek personal legal counsel as it relates to interpreting the Florida telehealth law and the various executive orders regarding telehealth by any method to ensure that the care provided meets the standards of the established scope of practice for the profession.”

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT) has also posted an overview of HIPAA considerations for implementing telehealth, as well as options for HIPAA compliant telehealth platforms at: www.camft.org/Resources/Legal-Articles/Telehealth-HIPAA-and-Compliant-TeleHealth-Platforms.

Lastly, the HIPAA announcement regarding the relaxation of policies during the COVID-19 national emergency can be found at www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html.

Offering telehealth is a wonderful resource, and thanks to the relaxation of HIPAA policies, now much more accessible to health professionals, and clients alike. Thankfully, the COVID-19 national emergency need not interrupt mental health services.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities, and ethics of providing therapy online.

E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services.

This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping.

In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations. Course #31-19 | 2019 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions

Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

E-Therapy Online CE Course

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a newly updated 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities, and ethics of providing therapy online.

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities, and ethics of providing therapy online.

E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services.

This e-therapy online CE course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping.

In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this e-therapy online CE course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations. Course #31-19 | 2019 | 60 pages | 20 posttest questions

Click here to learn more.

Course Directions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Teletherapy is the Future Norm

teletherapy

Teletherapy will be part of normal practice for psychologists in a decade, predicts leading online therapy educator Marlene Maheu, PhD.

Psychologists must embrace the change or be left behind, warns Sherry Benton, PhD, ABPP, founder of the teletherapy company TAO Connect.

“We in the behavioral world are the last holdouts for technological change in health care,” said Maheu, executive director and founder of the Telebehavioral Health Institute. “Technology is evolving, and I firmly believe we will be connecting with one another in many new ways in the future.” Maheu oversees telebehavioral health training at the institute and has been involved with teletherapy as a clinical psychologist herself since 1994.

Benton, a psychologist and former director of a large university mental health clinic, became convinced a few years ago that adding teletherapy to psychology practices could help millions of people living in areas underserved by mental health specialists. After testing the concept with college students in 2014, she launched TAO Connect to provide teletherapy to college and university counseling centers.

Both Maheu and Benton believe that psychologists who want to provide counseling via video conferencing, email or telephone need to educate themselves first about the practice. Maheu’s institute offers classes, as do the American Psychological Association and other organizations and companies.

“It’s critical to get training,” Benton said. “There are so many things you might not think about.”

That includes having a license to practice in the state where the patient is, having a crisis management plan for online patients, knowing how to keep consultations with a patient private and knowing how to rewrite consent-to-treat forms for patients you may never see in person, she said.

Equally important, Maheu said, is figuring out what population you want to serve online and identifying a way to get paid for your online work. If you work with at-risk youth and want to serve that community online, figure out what agency might pay you for the online work. Or if you want to work online with senior citizens in nursing homes, there are online employers who will hire you to do that, she said.

Similarly, if you are in private practice and want to add online work, health insurance could be your payer, she said. “This is not about reinventing yourself, but doing what you’re already good at with technology,” Maheu said.

Numerous online therapy companies have popped up in recent years, including TalkSpace, BreakThrough, BetterHelp, and iCouch, and many enlist a variety of therapists, including psychologists, to work full or part time as outside contractors.

Each company is different and any psychologist who wants to associate with one should investigate the firm carefully, Benton said. “You want to look at how they work, what your reimbursement rate is, what’s expected of you – basically what’s their deal and does it fit with the way you want to work,” she said.

TalkSpace is one of the largest and mainly provides counseling sessions through texting. BreakThrough and BetterHelp both offer videoconferencing with therapists and BetterHelp also offers messaging, live messaging chats and telephone sessions with therapists.

iCouch, while it offers therapist referrals, concentrates on providing services for therapists who want to practice online. Those include videoconferencing, therapy marketing, scheduling and billing services.

Benton’s company is similar, offering private practitioners a suite of tools they can use for their own online services. They include HIPPA-compliant video conferencing, education modules for patients, administrative tools and secure messaging.

“We just license our materials; we don’t actually hire psychologists,” Benton said. “But our tools allow psychologists to help more patients and to help their income.”

Psychologists can offer patients shorter therapy sessions, such as 20 minutes, and augment that with patient education sessions from TAO, she said. “Even after a psychologist pays for TAO they really can increase their income,” she said.

One of the newest entries into the market is LARKR, a video therapy app that launched in October through the Apple App Store. LARKR links therapists with patients for 50-minute sessions on mobile devices. The site, at larkr.com, is seeking 10,000 certified mental health therapists to join its ranks, according to its press information.

Plenty of information is available online for psychologists who are considering trying online therapy.

iCouch has several blogs that suggest ways to get started: (Add “online therapy available” to your business cards and website; ask current clients if they’d be interested in trying a session online; try online therapy several times so you become comfortable with the technology).

The APA has a 19-page Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology on its website that encourages psychologists to get specific training and includes information about confidentiality, informed consent and interjurisdictional practice.

This article is included in the online continuing education course Therapy Tidbits – March/April 2018. Click here to learn more.

Related Online Continuing Education Courses:

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best PracticesE-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities and ethics of providing therapy online. E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services. This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping. In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations. Course #30-87 | 2016 | 52 pages | 20 posttest questions

Ethics and Social MediaEthics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral HealthPreventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the ways in which clients can be harmed in mental health practice, and the many strategies for anticipating and avoiding such undesirable outcomes. This course is intended to increase clinicians’ awareness of the many types of errors that can occur within mental health practice, how such errors damage clients, and numerous ways they can be prevented. Its emphasis is on areas within mental health practice that carry the potential for “medical” errors. Examples include improper diagnosis; breaches of privacy and confidentiality; mandatory reporting requirements; managing dangerous clients; boundary violations and sexual misconduct; the informed consent process; and clinical and cultural competency. There are major new sections on psychotherapy in the digital age, including the use of social networking systems, the challenges of maintaining and transmitting electronic records, and engaging in the practice of teletherapy. *This course satisfies the medical errors requirement for license renewal of Florida mental health professionals. Course #21-18 | 2018 | 38 pages | 15 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Advantages of E-Therapy

Course excerpt from E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices

E-therapy benefitsE-therapy (a.k.a. distance therapy, telepsychology, telemental health, remote therapy, etc.) refers to the delivery of mental health services in which electronic equipment and therapeutic communication converge online. Typically the online services include emails, discussion lists, chats, or audiovisual conferencing. This kind of therapy is proliferating rapidly, and its applications have the potential to advance the field of mental health in a multitude of ways.

Research suggests that e-therapy may have similar or, in some cases, even better therapeutic benefits than face-to-face (F2F) therapy. Studies have also suggested that e-therapy for certain purposes can be very cost-effective because it can require minimal or no therapist involvement. However, (good news for all of us?) therapist involvement is still generally preferred.

In their article on home-based telemental health (HBTMH), Pruitt and Luxton (2014) state that “one of the principle benefits of HBTMH is its potential to improve treatment attendance and satisfaction, which can lead to more positive treatment outcomes. The benefits of reduced travel, less time off work, shorter appointment wait-times, and greater personal control are frequently cited as advantages of telehealth-based care over in-person care.”

Patients with Limited Mobility

The main advantage of e-therapy is that it can reach people who might not otherwise seek therapy, such as disabled people or those who live in remote areas; it also reduces the contact time between therapist and patient.

A Sense of Anonymity

It has been observed that online interactions can differ from in-person encounters in that the former imparts a sense of disconnect or anonymity. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “online disinhibition effect.” This is essentially the observation that while online, some people self-disclose or act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person. A positive aspect of this effect – in the context of remote online therapy – is that some individuals may be inclined to disclose information they might not be disposed to share in a traditional therapy session.

Bypassing the Stigma

According to Luxton et al. (2012), “Home-based TMH is a viable solution to provide improved access to quality mental healthcare for those unable or unwilling to seek traditional care because of mobility, geography, or concerns about stigma.”

Even in current times, when it is fairly commonplace for individuals to seek psychotherapy for life’s issues, there is still some residual stigma associated with psychotherapy – at least in the minds of some individuals. Particularly in small communities or certain occupational spheres like the armed services and police departments, it is not unusual for everyone to know everyone else’s business. This concern may play a role in the decision of some not to avail themselves of therapeutic resources, even when they are in need and even when such resources are otherwise available and affordable.

Where therapy offices and waiting rooms are visible to others, concerns about privacy can be a significant issue. In rural areas or small towns, or even in some areas of larger cities, it is not uncommon for patients to encounter people they know in clinical waiting rooms. Patients who forgo seeking treatment due to such privacy concerns may be willing to participate in care if it is provided in a private place such as their own home.

Click here to learn more.

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best PracticesE-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities and ethics of providing therapy online. E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services. This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping. In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations. Course #30-87 | 2016 | 52 pages | 20 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

About the Author:

Leo Christie, PhD, LMFT, is a Florida-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Florida State University. Past President of the Florida Council on Family Relations, Dr. Christie is currently CEO of Professional Development Resources, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to deliver continuing education credit courses to healthcare professionals throughout the United States. He has more than 20 years’ experience in private practice with a specialty in child behavior disorders and as an instructor for over 500 live continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals.

CE Information:

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

Fans of Online Therapy and Privacy Issues

By Maanvi Singh

Fans of Online Therapy and Privacy IssuesLauren Kay has never met her therapist in person. The 24-year-old entrepreneur found it difficult to take time off work for appointments.

So she started seeing a psychotherapist online.

“It’s definitely been different,” she says. Kay, who lives in New York, found her counselor through an online therapy service called Pretty Padded Room. When it’s time for an appointment, all she has to do is log in to the website, click a link and start video chatting.

The format works well for her. “It felt like Skyping with a friend,” she says. “And when I was at my parents’ house the other day, I got to show my therapist my cat.”

Now, she says, she prefers these video sessions to traditional therapy. And she’s not alone in that thinking. More and more people — especially millennials — are trying Web therapy.

It felt like Skyping with a friend. And when I was at my parents’ house the other day, I got to show my therapist my cat.

And mental health care providers are increasingly taking their services online. Aside from Pretty Padded Room, there’s The Angry Therapist, Breakthrough, Virtual Therapy Connect and plenty of others.

There’s a real demand for this sort of therapy, says Bea Arthur, a licensed mental health counselor and the founder of Pretty Padded Room, which is based in New York. “Our target market is women in their 20s and 30s,” she says.

People from all over the world can sign up. “We have clients in Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Korea,” Arthur says. “It’s been amazing.”

Behavior issues like defiance and aggression are common, and short-term counseling can help parents and kids do better.

Those seeking help can choose from nine licensed family therapists and clinical social workers. It costs $45 for a 30-minute session, or less if you sign up for a monthly plan. The company doesn’t accept insurance, but Arthur says some clients have gotten their insurance providers to reimburse them for sessions.

Some studies suggest that therapy online can be as effective as it is face to face. “We have a lot of promising data suggesting that technology can be a very good means of providing treatment,” says Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist who helps develop health care policy for the American Psychological Association.

“I don’t think we have all the answers yet,” Bufka says. There are cases where therapy online may not work, she notes. Therapists usually don’t treat people with severe issues online, especially if they are contemplating suicide. That’s because in case of a crisis, it’s much harder for online therapists to track down their patients and get them help.

Student Kahlil Quato fights tears as he speaks at a University of Chicago candlelight vigil in 2007. The service was held in remembrance of Amadou Cisse, a graduate student, who was shot to death at point-blank range.

Privacy is another concern. Instead of Skype, many online therapy companies choose to use teleconferencing software with extra security. Arthur at Pretty Padded Room says her company takes measures to protect her clients’ records.

But it can be hard for people to know exactly how secure the website they’re using really is, Bufka says.

And then there’s the issue of licensing. Family therapists, mental health counselors and clinical social workers are licensed to practice by individual state boards. But it’s unclear whether a practitioner who lives in one state can or should treat someone who lives elsewhere.

“We’d like to see a little more mobility and flexibility with that, because certainly for licensed psychologists the standards are pretty similar across state lines,” Bufka says. Perhaps, she adds, therapists could get a special certification that would allow them to practice in multiple states or countries.

When the Internet was on dial-up and stuff, it was really hard to do something like this. But now you can literally see a teardrop.

The APA released a guideline for online therapy last year. It encourages online practitioners to take care protecting clients’ data, and to familiarize themselves with state and international laws. But it doesn’t resolve these issues.

Right now, some therapists try to dodge the licensing issue by calling themselves life coaches, which doesn’t require state licensing. The problem with that, Bufka says, is anyone can call himself or herself a coach. Those seeking therapy online should ask potential therapists about their training, she says.

Read More: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/06/30/325488110/online-psychotherapy-gains-fans-and-raises-privacy-concerns

Related Continuing Education Courses

 

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities and ethics of providing therapy online. E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services.This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping.In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations.

 

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication?The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy.

 

Professional Development Resources, Inc. is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) that offers 150+ online, video and book-based continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. We are approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (b); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

Online Therapy Effective in Treating Anxiety and Depression

From the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Online Therapy Effective in Treating Anxiety and DepressionA new study suggests that online computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in treating anxiety and depression.

The National Institutes of Mental Health-funded randomized trial, led by Bruce L. Rollman, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, enrolled 704 depressed and anxious patients from 26 UPMC-affiliated primary care offices across western Pennsylvania.

Patients 18 to 75 years old were referred into the trial by their UPMC primary care physician between August 2012 and September 2014. Eligible and consenting patients were then randomized to one of three groups: care manager-guided access to the eight-session Beating the Blues CCBT program; care manager-guided access to both the CCBT program and a password-protected ISG patients could access 24/7 via smartphone or desktop computer; or usual behavioral health care from their primary care physician.

Over the six-month intervention, 83 percent of patients randomized to CCBT started the program, and they completed an average of 5.3 sessions. Seventy-seven percent of patients assigned to the ISG logged into the site at least once, and 46 percent provided one or more posts or comments.

Six months later, those patients randomized to CCBT reported significant improvements in their mood and anxiety symptoms and the more CCBT sessions patients completed, the greater the improvement in mood and anxiety symptoms.

Although patients randomized to both CCBT and ISG had similar overall improvements in mood and anxiety symptoms compared to patients randomized to only CCBT, secondary analysis revealed those who engaged more with the ISG tended to experience greater improvements in symptoms.

Several CCBT programs have proven as effective as face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy at treating mood and anxiety disorders and are used by many patients outside the U.S., but CCBT remains largely unknown and underutilized within the U.S., Dr. Rollman said. ISG that enable individuals with similar conditions to access and exchange self-help information and emotional support have proliferated in recent years, but benefits have yet to be established in randomized trials.

“Our study findings have important implications for transforming the way mental health care is delivered,” Dr. Rollman said. “Providing depressed and anxious patients with access to these emerging technologies may be an ideal method to deliver effective mental health treatment, especially to those who live in areas with limited access to care resources or who have transportation difficulties or work/home obligations that make in-person counseling difficult to obtain. We hope that these findings will focus further attention on the emerging field of e-mental health by other U.S. investigators.”

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2016, May 12). Online therapy effective at treating depression and anxiety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160512124921.htm

 

Related Continuing Education Courses

E-Therapy: Ethics & Best Practices is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the advantages, risks, technical issues, legalities and ethics of providing therapy online. E-therapy can be used to address age-old problems, such as how to reach out to those who might not otherwise avail themselves of psychotherapy services even though they are in acute need. At the same time, it is clear that many providers have embraced the new technologies without a firm grasp on the new and serious vulnerabilities that are introduced when their patients’ personal health information goes online. Included in this course are sections on video therapy, email, text messaging, smart phone use, social media, cloud storage, Skype, and other telecommunications services.This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping.In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations.

 

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication?The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy.

 

This CE test is based on the book “The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social Brain” (2010, 460 pages), which provides an account of the scientific basis of psychotherapy, based on the newest revelations of neuroscience. Beginning with a neurological analysis of Freud’s theories, the author describes the functioning of the neurons and neural networks that comprise the biological basis of thinking and relationships. Chapters discuss research on anxiety, fear, trauma, neural plasticity, memory, executive functioning, identity, narrative, consciousness, and attachment relationships, interweaving the neuroscientific and clinical literature and providing clinical examples as illustrations of theory and technique. The final three chapters discuss the ability of psychotherapy to rewire the brain, including a review of the existing neuroimaging studies of psychotherapy. The book imparts a scientific understanding of just how and why psychotherapeutic processes have a positive impact on the nervous system.

 

This course is designed for the practitioner who would like to use journal-writing exercises with clients as an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy, and would like some topic ideas to suggest, rather than limiting writing only to the technique of “freewriting.” It is suggested, although not mandatory, that the practitioner has already completed the course #20-13, “Writing It Out: Journaling as an Adjunct to Therapy.” That course lays the basic foundation for understanding the benefits of journaling and how it can best be used with clients. It also teaches a number of basic writing techniques. Journaling II presents a brief overview of “freewriting,” as well as 36 directed exercises divided into three phases. It also offers interpretive questions coordinating with each exercise and an explanation of the use of a behavior log as a journaling exercise.

 

Professional Development Resources, Inc. is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) that offers 150+ online, video and book-based continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. We are approved by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (b); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.