Monitor on Psychology - March 2012 - (Page 52)

Practicing distance therapy, legally and ethically Psychology is developing guidelines for practitioners in this rapidly changing area. B Y TORI D eA NG ELI S I nterested in practicing virtual reality therapy? If so, it’s important to get up to speed on the latest legal and ethical developments so you’ll be sure to serve your clients safely, legally and effectively. For starters, know that there is little consistent guidance across states on how psychologists should use these and other forms of electronic communication such as email, Skype and various forms of videoconferencing, says Deborah Baker, JD, director for prescriptive authority and regulatory affairs in APA’s Practice Directorate. (See more on APA’s work to create telehealth guidelines in the June Monitor.) “While technology is pushing ahead at a rapid pace, psychology licensing laws have not yet caught up,” she says. That’s true in other fields as well, she notes: All health and mental health-care professions are wrestling with many of the same issues. That said, experts in the field are beginning to develop guidelines to help psychology practitioners stay within their legal and ethical limits. interstate practice One of the biggest unresolved issues concerns telepsychology across state lines. Email, videoconferencing and avatar therapy all allow psychologists to reach patients anywhere, but state licensing laws generally do not permit out-of-state psychologists to provide telepsychology services to consumers, says Baker, who helped conduct a 50-state review of telehealth laws in 2010 (see pdf). For most states, that means you may need to be licensed both in your own state and in your clients’ state in order to practice with these modalities, she says. There are exceptions, though. For example, many states have guest licensure provisions that allow out-of-state-licensed psychologists to provide services for a short period of time — ranging from 10 to 30 days in a calendar year — under specified conditions. In addition, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards ( has created a credential called the Interjurisdictional Practice Certificate that facilitates temporary practice in other jurisdictions. Providing distance therapy within your own state is simpler, and can help you reach people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to services — rural residents or people with certain disabilities, for instance — and clients who want to receive services from home. In this case, you can confidently provide services as long as you abide by all applicable licensing requirements and professional standards of care, including understanding the technology you’re using (more on that below), Baker says. A few additional steps can ensure you have M o n i to r o n p s yc h o l o g y • M a rc h 2 0 1 2 52

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - March 2012

Monitor on Psychology - March 2012
President’s column
From the CEO
Supreme Court rejects eyewitness protections
New member benefit: prevention screenings
A psychodynamic treatment for PTSD shows promise for soldiers
Was ‘Little Albert’ ill during the famed conditioning study?
New research identifies ways to improve eyewitness identifications
In Brief
‘Our health at risk’
Perspective on Practice
APA endorses higher education guidelines
Random Sample
Judicial Notebook
Help for struggling veterans
Driving out cancer disparities
In the Public Interest
Practice, virtually
The legal and ethical issues of virtual therapy
Psychologist PROFILE
Bringing life into focus
Pay attention to me
Division Spotlight

Monitor on Psychology - March 2012