Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Addressing Online Therapy

A recent article “When Your Therapist is Only a Click Away” appeared in the New York Times featuring Marlene M. Maheu Ph.D Executive Director for the TeleMental Health Institute. The Institute provides telehealth and online therapy training for professionals and as a result of the publication of the article professionals throughout the world have been flooding Dr. Maheu’s inbox with email inquiries.

In response, Dr. Maheu created a video to address some of the pivotal questions raised by the article outlining some of the primary legal and ethical issues for both practitioners and consumers desiring to connect online. The video addresses concerns that involve audio, email, text messaging, video conferencing, as well as the use of smart phones. The video is available at http://telementalhealth.com.

“In mental health, new technologies are very exciting, allowing mental health professionals to responsibly deliver needed services to people who otherwise would not get help. By using the right videoconferencing technology, telehealth has been proven to be safe and effective, client satisfaction is high, and insurance companies are starting to pay for such services including Medicare and Medicaid in limited circumstances,” explains Dr. Maheu.

She points out that unfortunately, a large number of mental health professionals have not been heeding their legal or ethics codes, largely because they don’t understand how existing codes are relevant. “Professionals need to be properly trained because many have already begun serving consumers online without thinking through key issues, including professional licensing, the need for an initial in-person assessment by a trained professional, possible abuse, security and fraud, plus technical complications that can all too easily interfere with clinical care.”

For more information, call Dr Maheu at (619) 255-2788.