Clarity results in guidance, pride, and effective partnerships!

Mental health counseling is an honorable profession and vital to the health of a society.  Mental health providers offer a unique skill set to clients and healthcare teams. Since there are so many titles used for mental health professionals (LMHC, LPC, LPCC…) and similar types of mental health professionals (Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, Psychoanalysis, …), there is often confusion about the specifics of the profession.  Because of this, the mental health counseling profession has been in need of an official and unified statement that defines its values, unique characteristics, and qualifications.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the coronavirus, COVID-19, will likely become a pandemic.  They state that anyone in close contact with others with COVID-19, including healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus.  The CDC recommends using telehealth to prevent patients who can be cared for at home from going to healthcare facilities, link.  They also recommend encouraging sick healthcare providers to stay at home, and they have made available infection control procedures for healthcare providers.

When a patient goes to a healthcare facility they are likely to encounter other people who are ill and seeking treatment.  The best solution to the coronavirus is to limit the opportunities for it to spread. Telehealth is a great option to treat those who do not NEED to come to a facility for treatment, but who can receive adequate care at home.  

Ray Barrett interviewed Kelly Koch from Compliancy Group. In this informative conversation, Ray and Kelly delve into the steps required by healthcare providers to remain compliant with HIPAA law when working with third-party vendors. Kelly was able to help dispel much of the confusion surrounding this important topic and layout some clear “does and don’ts” when it comes to HIPAA and working with other organizations.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare has relaxed requirements and expanded which services are reimbursed.

What do we call behavioral health sessions where the client and clinician are not in the same location but rely on technology to communicate?

There are so many terms and definitions for this that it often causes confusion.  Knowing which term or definition to use is often determined by context. Among other terms used, social workers have used the term technology-assisted social work, psychologists have used the term e-psychology, and counselors have used the term distance-counseling.  Clinicians who specialize in using texting for therapy have referred to it as text-therapy, providers marketing to tech-savvy clients have used the terms web-based or cyber-counseling.  

Telemental health is defined as the provision of behavioral or mental healthcare when the clinician and the client are in different locations at the time of services. Behavioral health services provided when the client and clinician are in the same location are often referred to as "face-to-face", "on-site", "in-person" or "in-office" sessions.

Telehealth is changing the way that patients can access health care, but when new technology meets decades-old federal regulation, tensions will necessarily arise.

When it comes to the intersection between telehealth and HIPAA regulation, there are many common misconceptions about how to run a telehealth practice while maintaining compliance with federal privacy and security standards.

Before we dive into some of the particularities of HIPAA as they apply to telehealth professionals, let's look at some of the basics of HIPAA regulation.

How necessary is professional liability insurance? What if I own my own business? If there is a breach of client data, am I covered? 

To answer these questions and more, we asked for help from CPH and Associates, a professional liability insurance agency specialized in the mental health field since 2001. Below, CPH shares some common questions they hear from their insureds in relation to malpractice insurance and telehealth specifically.

Anyone can experience stress or sadness due to a variety of factors such as major life changes, work challenges, health or family issues, and a host of other challenges that can be short-term or long-term, intense or mild, frequent or seldom. People who have experienced trauma, anxiety, or depression are often unaware of the effects on their life and on the lives of those around them; they can become accustomed to it. Some turn to alcohol or other substances in an attempt to  “remedy” the symptoms, causing dependency or substance abuse. Because of this, healthcare teams create tools to assess and screen for these behavioral health symptoms. 

We have compiled a list of Helplines according to various categories. We hope this can be useful to anyone looking for quick access to what could be life-saving information.