Licensing board decisions rarely make headlines, but in this case, an example is being made of an Israeli psychologist who practiced across state boundaries. In one of the most notable decisions ever announced related to telemental health licensure, the Pennsylvania psychology licensing board has taken action to stop a psychologist located in Israel from delivering psychological services to Pennsylvania citizens. Dr. Joseph Abraham is not licensed in Pennsylvania, but used a Pennsylvania address on his website from which to advertise his telepsychology services. While licensing boards have privately taken a number of similar actions against professionals licensing their services across state borders, this case is notable because it is being publicly disseminated in a newsletter published by the Professional Licensing Report.
The publishing of this article can be interpreted as a reminder to practitioners working over state lines to become educated about their need to adhere to state licensing law. Licensing boards are being approached by both citizens and professionals seeking more flexibility in where and how a licensed professional can work with clients and patients online.The TeleMental Health Institute is increasingly getting reports from clinicians and other services seeking education after being approached by licensing boards after the boards approaching clinicians who advertise their services online without proper licensure.
While many boards are in the process of working toward sustainable change in licensure mobility (also known as “licensure portability”), a first order of business is the obvious need to enforce laws that are already on the books. While clinicians have been working over state borders via the Internet for almost two decades without much repercussion, we can expect that actions from boards like the Pennsylvania Board are likely to curtail many relatively unregulated interjurisdicitonal telepractices. We then can expect licensure laws to be modified so as to allow states to work more cohesively to regulate practices over state and national borders. Such dramatic change is likely to require several more years. Meanwhile, clinicians are advised by TMHI to work within their own states licensure and to be fully aware of both general and specific laws and ethical requirements related to telepractice.
If you’d like to learn more, see the TeleMental Health Institute’s webinars and Certification training to help you understand and be compliant with these and other laws for telepractice:
- Coaching: Is it Illegal / Unethical to Practice Over State Lines?
- Licensing and Practicing Over State and Provincial Lines: Is It Ok to Cross the Line?
- To Skype Or Not To Skype? Free And Low-Cost Alternatives
- TMHI Basic Certification
- TMHI Advanced Certification