What You Should Know about Counseling Remotely
Some things you may want to know:
1. Most insurance companies don't currently reimburse for teletherapy. However, recently Cigna and Magellan have announced that they will begin doing this after Jan 1. It seems likely that others will follow.
2. Just as you can not conduct a face-to-face therapy session in a state where you are not licensed, if you conduct a teletherapy session with someone who is located in a state where you are not licensed, you may be violating that state's licensing laws. The issue is where is the client physically located at the time of the session.
3. Some states have rules specifically covering teletherapy. Such rules are created by the various licensing boards and there are 127 licensing boards around the country. There are a hodgepodge of rules. Some of these rules are:
You must verify the client's age and location.
You must have informed consent about teletherapy.
You must have special training.
One licensing board in Florida requires a special license
Bottom line: if you want to do teletherapy in another state, you need to contact the relevant board that governs your type of license and ask if they have any rules.
4. HIPAA has no special rules for teletherapy. But the Privacy and Security Rules would still apply. That would mean that you need to use a video service that is encrypted. You also would want to have a Business Associate Agreement with them. Since Skype will not sign a BAA, most experts say they are not a good option. There are several video services that will sign a BAA.
Also beware of claims that a company is "HIPAA Certified". HIPAA does not endorse or certify businesses or services. Remember that it is you, the covered entity, that must be HIPAA compliant.
Charles Hughes MA, LCPC
Oak Park, Illinois