As many clinicians who have provided psychoeducational session know, it is difficulty to keep the lines clear. Often in psychoeducational settings, therapeutic material is brought up and difficult to avoid or refer out. Also it may not be reasonable to expect that a participant in a psychoeducational group will think of their instructor as only their teacher rather than their teacher/therapist. Especially when their teacher’s name is Joe Smith, LCSW, LMHC, LPC, PsyD, MFT…
So what is the solution?
My first solution is to provide psychoeducation in a way that does not lead to any confusion about what is being provided. Let me draw an analogy from my experience today on jury duty. We were told that the defendant is to be assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Huh… What…That can be confusing. Even the defending attorney misspoke when explaining it and was corrected by the judge. So, here is my analogy, ask yourself if you have any reasonable doubt that the client will clearly understand that you are not providing psychotherapy in any form to them? This means making it very CLEAR that you are an instructor, teaching a course, to students, using a syllabus and lessons, and you are not providing healthcare. You can have a separate website, and platform for connecting with students. You can also have the process and marketing of your course reviewed by peers.
The second solution is for the participants to be clients in a therapeutic group, and only practice within the states in which you are licensed. But you might ask, “What if the client is not needing or wanting counseling, and only psychoeducation?” If someone is wanting psychoeducation, they likely have a therapeutic reason for it. Also, they do not have to need therapy, but simply want it. Often the stigma of psychotherapy gets in the way of people receiving help. Hopefully we can help reduce this stigma in society.
One clinician asked me if they ought to use a HIPAA secure platform for conduction psychoeducational sessions. Since HIPAA secure platforms are about protecting confidentiality I would recommend that. Many of the skills that we learn when studying telemental health services have to do with providing safety, reducing risk, and providing the best service to our clients. Therefore, even if a clinician is only providing psychoeducation to someone, and not healthcare, I believe implementing many of the standards of telemental health services is still best practice.
Please share your wisdom, thoughts and experience.