If you provide therapy on the phone or over the internet (eg Skype), telemedicine (aka telehealth) laws require you to do the following:
AT THE ONSET:
Law and Ethics Nuts and Bolts
1. Obtain informed consent from the client to receive therapy services via phone or internet. Consent can be verbal or written but must be documented (eg in a progress note).
2. Inform the client of the potential risks and limitations of receiving treatment via telehealth. This includes making sure the client understands the technology may not guarantee confidentiality and privacy in the way that face-to-face sessions can.
3. Provide the client with your license or registration number and the type of license or registration.
4. Make reasonable efforts to find contact information of relevant resources, including emergency services, in the patient’s geographic area. Document these efforts.
AT EACH SESSION:
1. Know the client’s full name and address of their present location. Can be obtained verbally but must be documented for each session.
2. Assess whether the client is appropriate for telehealth, in their current psychosocial situation.
3. Utilize industry best practices for confidentiality and the security of the communication medium.
WHEN THE CLIENT IS NOT IN CALIFORNIA:
1. Meet the legal requirements to provide services in the state or jurisdiction where the client is. Usually this means having a license to practice therapy in that state. As of November 2017, six states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Utah, and Wyoming), allow for out-of-state licensed MFTs to temporarily practice marriage and family therapy (and via telehealth) to clients located in those states. States may have specific parameters, eg limits on hours per year.
2. Determine that delivery of services via telehealth is allowed by that state or jurisdiction.