In early 2019, the Georgia Senate passed two bills addressing telehealth and telemedicine. Both bills address comprehensive healthcare reform in order to reduce costs, increase access, and enhance quality care for Georgia residents. Since 2006, the state of Georgia has addressed telehealth parity law, and continued to address the need and coordination of telehealth care. The most recent bills (Senate Bill 115 and Senate Bill 118) continue to demonstrate how Georgia legislature has updated and revised existing laws.

Online counseling (aka video counseling, virtual counseling, etc.) can be an excellent way to receive mental health care, and its use is growing for many reasons. If you choose to go this route, here are six steps to a quality video-session with your mental health provider:

With the exception of writing letters or sending information via “snail mail”, we all generally communicate over  long distances by means of technology.  When counseling services are provided this way, they can be called “distance counseling”.

Therapists occasionally receive requests from prospective clients looking for faith-based or spiritually integrated counseling. Good therapists might know that they are sensitive to a client’s faith and that they can help them, yet they will often refer the client to a therapist who provides a specific faith-informed therapy. There are two good reasons to do this. First, it is important to provide the client with the best fit for what they are seeking. Second, spiritually integrated therapy truly is a specialization requiring a particular set of competencies and supervised experience.  

However, finding a fitting therapist for the client can often be a significant challenge. Conducting a search for a local one, whom the referring therapist has vetted, may yield little to no results. When well-trained spiritually integrated providers offer teletherapy, this can overcome the search obstacle. Many faith-informed therapists have not begun to provide teletherapy; the thought of launching a telehealth program can feel overwhelming for any provider. Some faith-informed therapists and organizations have successfully faced this task by partnering with people who provide the proper training and support.

Some phone systems market themselves especially for healthcare organizations, and for good reason. Not all phone systems are the same. One error that clinicians (and therefore clinical practices) often commit is to take the technology they use in their personal lives and bring it into their healthcare practice,  assuming that it is adequate. Traditional phone lines and cellular service is quite secure. However, additional features such as voicemail, faxing, and texting bring added risks to healthcare information. Group practices and larger larger organizations utilize features such as setting on-call procedures, ring groups, automated attendants, and administrator control over all phone accounts. Clients put their trust in their healthcare providers to protect their private information. Using ordinary or traditional phone lines, voicemail, faxing, and texting can jeopardize patients’ sensitive information.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) allows physicians from 43 different Medical and Osteopathic boards to practice medicine across state lines. Interstate compacts exist so that governing agencies from different states or jurisdictions are able to define an agreement which allows for members of their respective regions to operate under a mutual set of regulations.

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to have one license to practice in multiple states. An interstate compact allows multiple states to join together and uniformly address common issues and establish guidelines that cross state boundaries to maintain regularity between governing agencies. 

The Psychological Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) was approved in 2015 by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board (ASPPB – the alliance of psychology boards in US and Canada). By definition, a compact is an interstate agreement allowing states to enact legislation and enter a contract for a specific, limited purpose or to address a particular policy issue. One of the greatest advantages to any interstate compact is establishing a solution that uniformly addresses multi-state issues.

At Telehealth Certification Institute we often hear the following questions:

  • What is the difference between a certification, credential, certificate, accreditation, or license?
  • Which of these is the best for me to show my qualification, and which is a better predictor of competence?  
  • Does my state allow me to provide telemental health services?
  • Are the Continuing Education (CE) hours you provide accepted in my state?

In this video our CEO, Raymond Barrett, interviews Michelle Inauen LPC MFT who provides counseling by both video and phone.  Michelle Inauen shares how she got started in distance counseling, the services she offers to individuals, couples and families.  Michelle also provides some advice to other clinicians looking to get started in providing virtual counseling.