Telebehavioral health, or distance counseling, is the use of a digital platform that provides secure, encrypted, audio-video conferencing to communicate with a client in real time. This does not include nonsynchronous (not real time) texts, calls, digital chats, emails to and from counselors and their clients.
Many professional counselors have found telebehavioral health to be a great addition to their practice and their work with clients, including the ability to reach clients while obstacles may limit or prevent clients from in person counseling.
We understand with the arrival of the 2020 global pandemic, the topic of telebehavioral health has become more prominent as a means of continuing work with existing clients, and beginning work with new clients.
All requirements for working with clients remain in place with telebehavioral health. The usual standards of care counselors use when working with clients still apply. When using telebehavioral health, counselors must now consider additional issues along with having training and competency to deliver services through this means.
The practice of telebehavioral health involves the consideration of:
Access undated information on how to deliver counseling support using technology, such Telebehavioral Health services.
Use of telebehavioral health service delivery does not eliminate the licensure requirements. Learn what you need to know.
Review how the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics impacts the practice of telebehavioral health during a pandemic. (2014 Code of Ethics is italicized)
Learn important information to navigate claims, billing and reimbursement for telebehavioral health services.
Skills required to effectively work with a client without in-person interactions
Using appropriate technological platforms where security standards conform with the recommendations of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (DHHS).
Resources for Counselors Working in Health Care
We know there are counselors working in health care facilities and directly with those who have been infected. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a guide to management stress in crisis response professions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has information about caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 Infection.
As the coronavirus spreads and healthcare providers are tasked with caring for an influx of patients, the Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) risk management team has identified four specific risks/tips providers should keep in mind to protect themselves.
Counselors are often reluctant to use technology in counseling, but they don’t have to be. This article discusses how counselors can ethically incorporate technology into their practices and how they can also benefit from it.