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Information on Telepsychology

From time to time the board becomes aware of articles or information that would be educational and informative to licensed psychologists and the consumers of psychological services. In such cases, the board will attempt to bring this information to licensees and consumers, provided the necessary authorizations for publication can be obtained. In the posting of any information on its web site, the board will maintain sole discretion as to what information is posted.

The following information regarding telepsychology has been excerpted with the permission of the primary author from "Regulation of Telepsychology: A Survey of State Attorneys General" by Gerry Koocher & Elisabeth Morray. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, October, 2000, vol. 31, issue #5, pages 503-508.

In light of the survey data obtained in this research, the authors offer the following regarding telepsychology:

  • 1. Before engaging in the remote delivery of mental health services via electronic means, practitioners should carefully assess their competence to offer the particular services and consider the limitations of efficacy and effectiveness that may be a function of remote delivery.
  • 2. Practitioners should consult with their professional liability insurance carrier to ascertain whether the planned services will be covered. Ideally, a written confirmation from a representative of the carrier should be obtained.
  • 3. Practitioners are advised to seek consultation from colleagues and to provide all clients with clear written guidelines regarding planned emergency practices (e.g., suicide risk situations).
  • 4. Because no uniform standards of practice exist at this time, thoughtful written plans that reflect careful consultation with colleagues may suffice to document thoughtful professionalism in the event of an adverse incident.
  • 5. A careful statement on limitations of confidentiality should be developed and provided to clients at the start of the professional relationship. The statement should inform clients of the standard limitations (e.g., child abuse reporting mandates), any state-specific requirements, and cautions about privacy problems with broadcast conversations (e.g., overheard wireless phone conversations or captured Internet transmissions).
  • 6. Clinicians should thoroughly inform clients of what they can expect in terms of services offered, unavailable services (e.g., emergency or psychopharmacology coverage), access to the practitioner, emergency coverage, and similar issues.
  • 7. If third parties are billed for services offered via electronic means, practitioners must clearly indicate that fact on billing forms. If a third-party payer who is unsupportive of electronic service delivery is wrongly led to believe that the services took place in vivo as opposed to on-line, fraud charges may ultimately be filed.