School-Based Telehealth Training for Social Workers and Counselors

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an overhaul of school services, with many social workers and counselors switching from in-person counseling to telehealth. This transition can encourage safer student access to behavioral health services, but it can also increase the need for telehealth training. 

According to the policy group, Education Commission of the States, 1 in 6 children experience a mental health disorder in a given year—with over half forgoing proper treatment. Many students who received care pre-pandemic used school counseling offices as a safe space for processing emotional hardships. School social workers and counselors are now pivoting to provide the same standard of care virtually as they offered in person. 

Telemental health training helps school-based clinicians competently adapt their services to the virtual environment. School-based behavioral health professionals are responsible for assessing student safety, drafting treatment plans, and implementing evidence-based practices. But recognizing critical signs such as online bullying, abusive behaviors, or suicidality can be challenging via telehealth. 

In 2010, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Center for Workforce Studies released a report highlighting occupational challenges, rewards, and roles for school social workers. This report suggested that there is a huge need for school social workers to be adequately trained in telehealth. 

At the Telehealth Certification Institute, our courses cover critical competencies and address the unique needs of students at all academic levels. We offer telehealth training for behavioral health professionals serving elementary, middle, and high school populations. 

 

Elementary Counseling Course Highlights 

  • Confidentiality and ethical considerations
  • Academic support, future planning, and SEL (social and emotional learning)
  • Building relationships, connecting, and communicating
  • Developing a crisis response 
  • Self-care for providers 
  • 504’s and student disability rights

 

Middle School Counseling Course Highlights

  • Ethical considerations—confidentiality, FERPA, and other limitations
  • Connecting with support staff and teachers 
  • Crisis response and suicide assessment protocols
  • Assessments and connections with students and families 
  • Comprehensive school counseling in a virtual setting 
    • Individual counseling considerations
    • Norms and confidentiality for small group counseling sessions
    • Large group counseling sessions for middle school students

 

High School Counseling Course Highlights

  • How to document minute meetings and virtual check-in’s
  • Conducting a needs assessment
  • Appointments and counseling requests
  • Confidentiality and limitations in a virtual setting
  • Crisis response and suicide assessment (well checks)
  • Bullying and digital citizenship
  • Academic support, including organization, study skills, time management, and scheduling
  • College and career planning
  • Collaboration with support staff, such as backpack programs and school-based therapy
  • Warning signs and when to make referrals
  • Newsletters for staff morale, students, and parents
  • 504s in a virtual format (Zoom)

 

Regardless of which student population you work with, being an excellent telemental health provider requires knowledge and commitment. Thank you for continuing to serve your students and families with the highest professional standards. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about these courses or how we can assist your school or organization.

By Michael Tugendhat

Sources:

Manatt, Phelps & and Phillips, LLP. (2020). Executive summary: Tracking telehealth changes state-by-state in response to COVID-19. (Description: an article written by a law firm that documents state and federal telehealth changes). Retrieved from here

NASW Center for Workforce Studies. (2010). Social workers in schools (kindergarten through 12th grade) occupational profile. (Description: a report conducted by the NASW that breaks down income, educational, and role data for school social workers). Retrieved from here

Rafa, A. (2019). Connecting students to mental health care through telehealth technology. (Description: a leading student health and education policy organization discusses the need for telehealth counseling). Retrieved from here

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