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Mental Health Professionals Turn to Professional Organizations for Support and Telehealth Training During COVID-19

When COVID-19 hit, people worldwide faced isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression as quarantines and lockdowns were implemented. Mental health professionals were on the front lines of helping people cope with the pandemic, but clinicians faced their own struggles. Most closed their offices and shifted their practices to telehealth. They had to quickly learn new skills and ethics. They found themselves isolated - no longer seeing clients in person, or interacting with colleagues between sessions. 

Many clinicians turned to their professional organizations for guidance, including the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). AMHCA President Dr. Beverly Smith said it was hard for some clinicians to make that shift to telehealth.

“They were seeing their clients face-to-face,” Dr. Smith told Raymond Barrett, CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute. “When COVID-19 happened and we were all in quarantine, you couldn't go into the office to see clients face-to-face so we now had to quickly shift to telemental healthcare,” she said. “That was difficult, I think, for the majority of the clinicians.”

Dr. Smith said that there were many clinicians who were already doing telemental healthcare and trying to convince everyone else that it is a great platform to deliver mental health services. 

“But I don't think everyone really bought into it.”

Because of COVID-19, many clinicians are now embracing telehealth. “I think we have a great majority of therapists who are now embracing that mindset of, ‘Hey you can deliver excellent quality services virtually. There's nothing discount about it. I’m excited that we have a lot of clinicians embracing telemental healthcare services.”

AMHCA is now 45 years old, and Dr. Smith is the 45th president of the organization. “I am the proud president of AMHCA … very proud to be part of an organization that exclusively represents clinical mental health.”

“Our goal is to provide services to clinicians in the field, to provide high-quality training and education, as well as to advocate for clinicians.”

Dr. Smith said AMHCA also helps educate the public about mental health.

“We educate the public by having various forums using social media,” Dr. Smith said. “That's a platform to help enlighten the public as to what we're doing, what we're about, as well as what is going on in the mental health field.”

AMCHA also provides seminars and webinars for professionals and the public. This has become particularly important during COVID-19.

“Individuals and some professionals don’t know how to access mental health care services. By providing forums and webinars on mental health stigmas - including the mental health problems caused by COVID-19 - AMHCA is providing a door for individuals who may not otherwise have explored mental health.”

Currently, AMHCA’s fall summit is underway. The summit focuses on promoting healing for clinicians, clients, and the community.

“We have phenomenal speakers on various topics such as trauma, spirituality, COVID-19, parenting during COVID-19, homeschooling during COVID-19, ethics as well as supervision,” Dr. Smith said. “We're also talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. How do we promote that during COVID-19, and after COVID-19?”

“We are just helping to equip licensed therapists and mental health care providers with the tools that they need to serve in the community.”

AMHCA also advocates for counselors on legislative issues. For example, AMHCA is lobbying lawmakers to allow counselors to become Medicare providers.

“We joined with other organizations within the industry to form a coalition that seeks to push the agenda so that licensed professional mental health counselors, as well as marriage and family therapists, can be authorized to provide services to those who have Medicare. “It's just a needed change and it needs to happen.”

AMHCA doesn’t go it alone in advocating for mental health professionals. 

“We welcome collaboration because the bottom line at the end of the day is to advance the counseling profession so that services can be provided to the community. We collaborate with the American Counseling Association (ACA) as well as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as well as CACREP.

“I am passionate about the profession,” Dr. Smith said. “I am passionate about helping individuals to advance. But I'm also passionate about how we develop leaders, and how we set the stage so that we have organizations that can endure COVID-19, and that can support our political agenda - and still be relevant and available to the greater community at large.”

Dr. Smith said that AMHCA already is instrumental in the counseling community and her goal is to make sure that the organization continues to do that and to elevate the organization even more. “In June (2021) I said, ‘We're in a time now that we have to reimagine AMHCA.’ In reimagining AMHCA we have to take into consideration COVID-19. We have to take into consideration diversity, equity, and inclusion so that we are sustainable and so that we reach the vast different members within the professional community.”

AMHCA will be doing a membership campaign in the upcoming months, and Dr. Smith invites clinicians to join. “Get involved. Become a member. Join AMHCA and share the value and the benefit of our organization. Join us so that our voice is louder, and help us to expand our reach within the political arena.”

If you have any questions about AMHCA, you can reach Dr. Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By Amanda Barnett, LPC, EdS, NCC

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Thank you for an informational, relevant course to help me obtain my TMH certificate. Excellent presentation.
Tomica Horton
counselor/therapist / Jodi Province Counseling Services
Very well done. Encourages active engagement in telemental health process while guiding effectively.
Chris Brotherton
Marriage and Family Therapist / Addiction Counselor / Brotherton Counseling LLC
Very informative. I learned things that I wasn't aware of about state laws!
Tamara Coleman
Counselor / Tamara Coleman Counseling LLC
Wonderful free training. Helpful discussion on how to aid clients in breaking out of the negative thought trap.
Jaime Wright
Very informative training, instruction was clear and easy to follow
Jill Bogan-El
Therapist
It was one of the best courses I’ve attended; clear, well-structured, creative, transparent and professional! Bravo.
Elizabeth Tramonte, PsyD
Private Practitioner / Elizabeth Tramonte PC
The training was very informative, there was more in-depth information to the details of privacy and HIPAA on an electronic level that I was not aware of. The more technological part of it was new information to me.
Nellie Decker
Therapist II / Yakama Nation Behavioral Health

The course was very detailed and informative. It covered everything that is necessary to work with Tele mental health.

Cynthia Allison
Mental health Counselor / Friendly Therapy LLC
I learned a lot in this course and will put what I learned into practice when I move my home office space.
Raymond Corbo
Clinical Supervisor and Counselor / Redeemer Counseling Services
I took the Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider Training Certification Course in 2018, I feel so lucky to have found the TeleHealth Certification Institute. It's a top notch training center which has continued to provide me with tools and the knowledge to grow my private teletherapy practice. I recently participated in the TeleMental Health Preparedness Summit 2020 and was definitely not disappointed. The excitement and enthusiasm from the participants and TeleHealth Certification Institute staff is contagious. I've been inspired, since, to look into taking more courses, and joined their FaceBook group. I will likely join their consultation group in the near future. I don't believe there is another training institute out there that is as good as this one for everything telebehavioral health. Thank you Ray! You are a visionary!
Larissa Golloub, LCSW-R
Psychotherapist, solo practitioner / Larissa Golloub, LCSW
The course was so informative and I was glued to my screen for the entire duration. I received so much knowledge concerning ethics in telehealth and I am greatly encouraged to read about all the standards and policies that pertain to my practice. Thank you!
Bridgette Nalumu
Public health consultant / Green and Purple Consultancy Network
Necessary technological guidance!
Frances D Murdock
Very informative! Well organized! Takeaway- protect yourself- know your ethical code and standards/ be insured.
Brenda Staerker
Private practice / Thaxton Holistic Wellness
This course is more comprehensive than all the other HIPAA courses I've taken combined.
Michelle R. Gould, LMHC
Mental Health Counselor
Brillant concept and a great way to support counselors as they transition into on-line therapy/services.
Bianca Abrams
License Professional Counselor / The Wellness Institute of Atlanta
Easily one of the best online or in-person workshops I have ever attended. The information was unbelievably relevant to current practice with our students doing e-learning and having to provide online therapy and support. Thank you so much for this workshop and the information.
Vincent Amador
School Psychologist / Thornridge High School
This course was very interesting and allowing me to understand the way telementalhealth services need to work correctly.
Patricia A Hill
Mental Health Counselor II and LCDC, MAC / Central County Services
This course was eye opening and highlighted some definite areas for improvement to better address emergency management planning.
Nikkita Scott
Director of Counselling & Student Activities / Bbermuda College
I really gained a deeper understanding of Telehealth. I think this course helps pave the way for success in our field. This was very convenient. I am so blessed to take a course like this during the crisis we are facing as a nation. This course really helps me perform at a high level for my job. THANKS!!!!!!!
Jackie Tanna
Therapist / Region One Mental Health
This course is providing me with valuable information that will be helpful in providing competent and effective services for clients.
Nancy Sweet-Holp, LMSW
Therapist / Liberty House of Albany
This was quite beneficial. You explained well at a comfortable pace and you provided sufficient details for me to develop an Emergency Management Plan. Thank you!
Dr. STEPHEN KIURI GITONGA
Courses were very informative! Extremely helpful!
Carron D. Alexander
LPC / Premier Counseling Services
This course was very informative and very relevant to today's telehealth practices!
Keith Ayson
Housing Case Manager / Bridgeways
The training was well structured and presented by a knowledge individual. Information shared in the training was useful, clear, and concise and can easily be incorporated into future practice techniques.
Dora Falls
LPC, MAC Private Practice - / Private Practice
Educational and informative content that was easy to follow and comprehend.
Scott Lipp, Ph.D., LMHC, LAC, NCC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor; Adjunct Professor / Greater Things, LLC; Florida Atlantic University
Amazing and relevant information conveyed over excellent format. This is a professional organization worth joining.
Summer Allan Wilson LCSW-S; Nationally Certified TFCBT
Pediatric Psychotherapist / East Texas Family Guidance Center
Vey helpful and user friendly. Most importantly informative. Very good information to enhance an individual's practice.
La Keicia Boyd
Licensed Professional Counselor / Private Practice
Great, course. Really helped me during this challenging time to connect with students.
Priscilla Robinson
School Counselor / Baltimore County Public Schools
This course was extremely helpful understanding the legal requirements for interstate telehealth counseling.
Donald Kirk Henderson
Licensed Professional Counselor / Milestone Family Resources
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