How to Choose a Course on Online Counseling

Modern technology provides an exciting opportunity for behavioral health professionals to deliver clinical services virtually, allowing many providers to significantly expand their client base and work remotely. Though many behavioral health professionals have always utilized technology for providing clinical services, more and more are accessing this option as the demand for telehealth has grown.  But, clinicians often jump into providing clinical services through the use of technology without FIRST assessing their level of competence and receiving the training to ensure legal and professional compliance.

Of course, the goal of receiving training in telemental health is for the behavioral health professional to become competent in providing clinical services to a remote client via technology; the quality and scope of the training received determines whether or not a clinician will achieve this goal. Comprehensive training in telemental health should cover all essential aspects of virtual clinical services, including the legal, ethical, technological, and clinical aspects.

Behavioral health professionals who are new to telemental health and searching online for certification programs commonly look for terms such as: telemental health, telebehavioral health, web-based counseling, e-psychology, technology-assisted social work, virtual therapy, distance counseling, and telehealth.  In selecting a course via the web, we advise that the clinician review the agenda of the course to ensure that it adequately covers all essential aspects of telemental health. The clinician should also assess the instructor’s level of expertise in telemental health, as it’s a rapidly evolving field. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the instructor of a telemental health course is extensively involved in the field of telehealth on a full-time basis, and that the training is updated regularly to remain current with telehealth best practices and technology.  It’s also very important that clinicians receiving training in telemental health have direct access to the instructor for relevant questions (such as via a webinar); a live webinar format also provides the clinician an opportunity to practice skills directly. Additionally, telebehavioral health courses should be designed in a way that allows for easy implementation. Clinicians can often benefit from consultation before implementing telemental health services; organizations that offer both training and consultation services show they’re dedicated to the success of clinicians, and are committed to launch successful telehealth programs.

Here are some questions you may want to ask before selecting a telemental health training:

  • When I call the training provider, am I able to talk to an individual and receive the answers I need in training competency and content?
  • Is the instructor involved in telehealth on a full-time basis?
  • Is the instructor available for questions related to the content?
  • Does the course cover all of the essential aspects of telemental health?
  • When was the last time the course was updated?
  • Is there an option to take the course through a live webinar format (allowing clinicians to practice skills)?
  • Are consultation services available for implementing telemental health services into one’s service delivery?

Here at the Telehealth Certification Institute we ensure that our courses provide the highest level of quality, that they allow for implementation, and that we’re available to our alumni for questions and consultation.  As telehealth services continue to expand worldwide, it is our ultimate goal to enable the success of our partner clinicians!

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