What is distance counseling?
Distance counseling is the delivery of counseling by mental health professionals via secure video, phone, chat, email, and other technology mediums.
Is distance counseling effective?
Yes, peer-reviewed and published studies from leading institutions show distance counseling has similar clinical outcomes as in-person treatment. Online counseling also increases client retention, reduces costs, and enables mental health providers to expand their practice. However, in many cases distance counseling is not a replacement for in-person help and we do not recommend it for clients in crisis or with severe conditions. Distance Counseling is not for everyone, and treatment success may be impacted by factors such as a client's (or clinician’s) facility with web-based technologies.
Is distance counseling legal?
Yes, distance counseling is recognized and regulated by many state licensing boards. Medicare and Medicaid recognize and reimburse online counseling through specific guidelines. To meet compliance requirements, DT CounselorConnect requires mental health professionals to meet the licensing or telemedicine regulations in the client’s home state. Government regulations and licensing boards are rapidly evolving to expand telemedicine access. Clients and providers of distance counseling should become familiar with the regulations governing online counseling in their state before engaging in sessions. Many of the mental health professionals listed on this site are licensed in multiple states.
Is distance counseling secure?
Yes, DT CounselorConnect uses Google Hangouts for teleconferencing and video chat. All Google Hangout video and audio streams are encrypted. This means that clients can enter a session securely, and all participants can only join a video chat if they are invited and approved. All communication between a client and counselor is encrypted in transit and deleted after a session. DT CounselorConnect does not have access to any client medical records. DT CounselorConnect does securely and confidentially store basic identifying information necessary to schedule appointments. For your security, we strongly recommend that you do not engage in distance counseling on public computers.
Is distance counseling covered by insurance?
In most cases, distance counseling is not covered by private health insurance plans. Since 2004, distance counseling and telepsychiatry is reimbursable through Medicare, Medicaid, and a growing number of insurance plans. For Medicare reimbursement, clients generally must receive treatment at an eligible originating site, such as a doctor's office, hospital, nursing facility, mental health clinic, or similar facility. Some private payers often do not have the same locality restrictions. It is recommended that clients contact their insurance carriers for more information regarding coverage. More details on reimbursement are also available through the American Telemedicine Association.
What technology do I need to do distance counseling?
Your technology needs will depend on what types of counseling you utilize in your practice. At a minimum you will need an internet connection and a web browser. For phone counseling, you should have a landline, cell phone, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) number. For video counseling, you should have a web camera and microphone or headset. For email and chat counseling, an internet connection and web browser are sufficient. In most cases mobile devices, mobile hotspots, and mobile device tethering will create an inferior connection and counseling experience. To learn more about the factors which impact video/chat quality, and the equipment needed to improve connections, click here.
Are counselors licensed / credentialed?
DT CounselorConnect verifies that mental health professionals are credentialed and in good standing. Non-credentialed counselors are not allowed to use this service unless they are supervised by a licensed professional in their state. All counselors who are under supervision will provide full disclosures on their profile page.
How are counselors paid?
Clients currently pay counselors before their session through our on-line appointment scheduling application. Clients must use a credit card to pay a counselor before the session begins. DT CounselorConnect reimburses counselors monthly for the services they have rendered, minus administrative fees.
Can I see a client if I am not licensed in their state?
Listed counselors strive to maintain compliance with state licensing board regulations of mental health professionals. These regulations are not always detailed on how mental health services should be delivered via electronic mediums. States generally allow online mental health services when professionals are licensed in the client's state and practicing within ethical and legal guidelines. (Please note that counselors and clients do not need to actually reside in the same state.)
Coaching is an option to see clients in states that the counselor is not licensed to provide professional counseling. However, it is the counselors' ethical responsibility to transfer the coaching relationship to a mental health counselor licensed in the client's state if it is determined that the client would benefit more from professional counseling.
What relationship do listed counselors have with DT CounselorConnect?
DT CounselorConnect is strictly a listing service that provides the platform for clients and counselors to have virtual counseling session. Individuals who are seeking counseling services are not considered to be the “clients” of DT CounselorConnect. Listed counselors agree to provide spiritual references, to have their credentials verified by DT CounselorConnect, and agree to abide by the DT CounselorConnect Terms of Service. All members are considered autonomous and independent mental health providers.