Should you provide telemental health?
KRISTIE OVERSTREET PH.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST
Have you thought about adding video counseling to your list of services? Have you considered your ability to reach more clients in different zip codes? Many virtual counseling platforms are available that give people access to counselors throughout the world. Deciding to begin telemental health is an important one. Before you start offering these services be sure that you are aware of the following factors.
Your license requirements
License portability is non-existent across state lines. As a licensed counselor, the state who provides you with licensure has requirements about who you can work with and who you can’t. Most states require you to be licensed in the state where the client resides. Make sure you are aware of these requirements and restrictions.
Equipment and tools you will need
To provide telemental health, you will need access to a few essential tools to provide the best services. Be sure you have the following:
• Computer with video capability
• Video platform that is HIPPA compliant
• Headphones or earbuds for privacy
• Secure client paperwork system
• Secure payment processing system
• Secure email system
Don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking that you will build a caseload of virtual clients quickly. It takes time to build a virtual practice due to many factors. For a clinician that wants to develop their self-pay caseload, virtual counseling may seem like a great idea. However, many insurance companies do not cover telemental health, which requires your clients to self-pay. This won’t be a concern for some clients, but for many others who want to utilize their insurance benefits, they may choose another provider who is in-network.
One-way to set yourself apart from other clinicians who provide virtual counseling is to specialize in a specific area. For example, I specialize in the areas of sex therapy and transgender identities. I offer virtual counseling to individuals who want to explore the areas of sex therapy or transgender identities. Clients seek my expertise in the area and are open to telemental health services. If you are considering expanding your services in virtual work, then focus on a specialty that will be in demand and that you are passionate about.
There are many considerations when deciding to provide telemental health services. In your decision-making process write out a pro versus con list about virtual counseling. This may help you come to a conclusion about the service. Technology and video platforms have created incredible opportunities for people who may have never received counseling to enter it in the convenience of their own home. Your decision to better serve through virtual counseling can be life-changing for you and your clients.