Telehealth is Expected to Get a Big Boost in the Biden Era
Even before he was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s health secretary on March 18, 2021, Xavier Becerra had signaled his support for expanding telehealth. During his confirmation hearings in February, Becerra said, "I wholeheartedly believe we're going to be doing expansion of telehealth."
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an overhaul of school services, with many social workers and counselors switching from in-person counseling to telehealth. This transition can encourage safer student access to behavioral health services, but it can also increase the need for telehealth training.
According to the policy group, Education Commission of the States, 1 in 6 children experience a mental health disorder in a given year—with over half forgoing proper treatment. Many students who received care pre-pandemic used school counseling offices as a safe space for processing emotional hardships. School social workers and counselors are now pivoting to provide the same standard of care virtually as they offered in person.
No longer bound by four walls or a physical address, telehealth platforms for K-12 schools have modernized how students learn and socialize. Not only is remote technology connecting students with teachers from afar, it’s also inviting psychiatrists, social workers, and therapists to the conversation. Telehealth services allow an accessible, team-based approach to student care.
Why Counselors Should Train in Telehealth
The flexibility of online counseling allows therapists to transition from in-person therapy to a virtual office, a trend that has become even more appealing since the COVID-19 public health crisis. But without adequate telemental health training, licensed counselors may find themselves at a disadvantage.
Regardless of the practice format, online and in-person counselors should apply the ethical wisdom to only practice within their scope of competence. With a high-quality training program, you will feel more comfortable as an online counselor and carry less risk as a telemental health provider. Before jumping into virtual sessions with clients, a training program can show you what skills–or instructional content areas–will help shape your telemental health practice. Discovering your knowledge gaps is often the first step to achieving telehealth competency.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The most recent figures from 2017 show that an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States have had at least one major depressive episode. That’s about 7% of all adults.
People struggling with depression often complain of sleeping too much and feeling fatigued. They will put off getting help until the depression starts having major impacts on their home and work life - until they feel overwhelmed and like they can no longer keep up. When they do finally get counseling, they may show up for therapy exhausted and stuck in negative thought patterns, ruminating over the same dark scenarios.
The counseling profession has struggled with barriers to delivering mental health services to clients across state lines since the conception of licensure law. Most states require counselors to be licensed in the state where the client resides. This means clients have to find a new counselor if they move out of state. It also limits telehealth options for many clients.
To address this dilemma the American Counseling Association (ACA) – in collaboration with the National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC) – has been working on an interstate licensure compact. This compact would create licensure portability for professional counselors – creating a way for counselors to practice in multiple states.
To explore what the interstate compact would mean for counselors, Raymond Barrett, CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute (TCI), interviewed Dr. Lynn Linde, chief knowledge and learning officer at ACA.
Many clinicians are quite adept at using technology, yet the competencies that are required when providing telehealth services are not so evident. Raymond Barrett created this recorded course as an overview of all topics regarding telemental health. It is not meant to address all of the areas of telehealth, but instead is offered so that you can assess your own level of competency and provide clinicians with the "broad strokes" of the competencies of telehealth. Topics addressed include: why telemental health is an important option for clients, the benefits (and drawbacks) of telemental health, how US licensure law impacts telemental health, telemental health-specific ethical standards, and preparing clients for a session.
We are pleased to offer this one-hour video for FREE to anyone by clicking the "Play" option on the video above.
In addition to the video training, if you would like to earn 1 CE credit, you can do that by enrolling in the one-hour self-study course for $20
Many of us shifted big chunks of our lives online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have virtual visits with our clients, our doctors, our friends – even our families. Video conferencing has literally been a lifesaver, but a bad side effect has cropped up – a new disorder dubbed “Zoom Dysmorphia.”
The problem is that most video conferencing platforms automatically display all participants – including ourselves. And many of us don’t like what we see. A recent study of more than 100 board-certified dermatologists published in the January 2021 issue of the International Journal of Women's Dermatology found an increase in patients seeking out cosmetic procedures to improve their appearance on video conference calls. According to the study, after hours of fixating on their small, often distorted image, during video conference calls, some people are developing a negative self-image.
The National Conference of State Legislators report estimated that telehealth users would increase from 250,000 in 2013 to 3.2 million in 2018—but no one could have expected the surge that erupted out of the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health fiasco that rapidly shut the door on in-school learning for K-12 students.
Teachers and students aren’t the only ones adopting new classroom procedures. Telehealth platforms have also enabled nursing departments to reach students who are isolated, undergoing COVID-19 quarantine, or who cannot physically meet in-person for an appointment with the school nurse. As CNBC’s Bertha Coombs emphasized, telehealth interactions—including those with children, families, and adults—neared 1 billion visits toward the end of 2020. Both the National Association of Student Nurses (NASN) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have endorsed a holistic, whole-student model that could include a telehealth option.
If you just started offering telemental health sessions, or you’d like to refresh your virtual professionalism, this telehealth etiquette guide includes practical, actionable ideas. As a therapy delivery method, telehealth expands your clinical practice options and your client base. But since most counseling programs train therapists to deliver in-person services to individuals, families, and couples, pivoting to telehealth can be challenging.
Below are some telehealth etiquette tips to keep in mind: