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Georgia’s “Composite Board” Sets the Bar with Proposed Rule for TeleMental Health Practice

Georgia's Proposed Rule for TeleMental Health PracticeIn the most game-changing decision of the decade, Georgia’s Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists notified interested parties of their proposed, “TeleMental Health” rule 153-11-01 on n Thursday, July 23, 2015.  The Georgia Composite Board has established its leadership by:

  • Defining telemental health-related terms for their licensees
  • Requiring 6 hours of professional training (CE coursework) for licensees for practicing telemental health, and
  • Specifying clear areas to be covered by professional training

Suggested TeleMental Health Areas of Competency

Professional training topics proposed for Georgia licensees wishing to engage in the practice of telemental health include:

  • The scientific evidence-base
  • Intake and assessment
  • Delivery methods
  • Integrating in-person care and distance care
  • Informed consent
  • Risk management
  • The “business” of online practice (online marketing)
  • Working with clients from out-of-state
  • Telesupervision
  •  Internet overuse disorders
The Georgia Board is also recommending that the 6-hours of training they are requiring also apply to the state’s required number of hours for licensure renewal by Georgia licensees. The TeleMental Health Institute (TMHI) commends professionals who have worked with this Board to help them craft a much-needed rule to support the responsible use of technology across allied behavioral health disciplines.

Historical Perspective

It is no surprise that Georgia is setting the pace for telehealth legislation, given how progressive the state has been since the 1950’s in obtaining federal grant monies to develop their telehealth infrastructure. These early funds were also used to experiment with early delivery models for reaching rural patients who otherwise would receive little or no health care. Practitioners and their Licensing Boards then, have long been aware of technology and how it can help as well as hinder the clinical relationship, depending on the clinician’s competency related to the services being delivered via technology. Georgia’s Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists is acting on the heels of Georgia’s Medical Board, which passed a comprehensive telemedicine rule in August of 2014. More information about the the Board’s detailed telemedicine rule, also available in a well-written summary by Health Care Law Today

Where Can You Get Such Training?

Professionals who are interested in obtaining CE and CME to meet all requirements by these state boards are encouraged to review the TeleMental Health Institute’s eLearning offerings. Training is available both 100% online, or in-person with a TMHI speaker who will travel to address your organization.

TMHI’s  trained speakers are enthusiastic, fun and extremely well-informed. They will delight your group with either a 1-day or 2-day program. The 1-day meets criteria set by Georgia’s Composite Board. TMHI’s 2-day programs meet the DCC requirements for credentialing by the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) for master’s level clinicians.

As always, your comments are invited below. Private questions can be directed to us here.

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11 comments on “Georgia’s “Composite Board” Sets the Bar with Proposed Rule for TeleMental Health Practice

  1. Do you know if the GA Board designates which kind of training (live, online, webinar) LPCs can use to satisfy this new CE hour requirement? Or can we go to any? Thanks.

    • Yes, our understanding is that online courses are acceptable to the Georgia Board, but we encourage you to double check. We’ve had many Georgia professionals take our courses in response to the recent Composite Board ruling. In fact, one of the associations has agreed to offer our courses to their group to help them meet the requirement.

      However, you may want to check to see if the Composite Board has a limit on the number of online hours that are acceptable in any licensure renewal period, and tally the number of online hours you’ve taken to date so as to need exceed those hours. For example, in California, the requirement is 36 hours of CE professional training to be eligible for every 2-year renewal period, but only 24 of those CE hours can be online. Again, I’d encourage you to check with the board, or with your state association. The Licensed Professional Counselor Association of Georgia is quite progressive and informed. Speak with Gail Macke, their CEO/Executive Director. And if you want to see the LPCA page about the telemental health ruling, you will find it here.

    • Required training in Georgia is just for those Composite Board licensees who are practicing telemental health. BUT, the state defines telemental health as the use of telephones for any clinical purpose between sessions, video, email, text messaging and apps if they connect the therapist and client in any way.

    • Good question. I wondered this myself, so I spoke with the CEO of the Georgia Psychological Association in October. She reported that Georgia Psychology Board apparently has not moved on the issue to the same degree.

  2. After reading the Health Care Today summary, it appears that we also need to be licensed in Georgia as well, is that correct? Ie: I can’t be licensed in FL and conduct telehealth sessions with a pt in GA unless I have their state license and these CEU’s?

  3. Can you clarify regarding Janeen’s question, does the person licensed in Georgia, have to be in Georgia…can a person licensed in Georgia be in Ohio, but connect with a client in Georgia? So I am asking about the required location of the therapist not the client.

    • For most states, you can physically be anywhere you choose to work with the state’s citizens. They however, need to be in the state where you are licensed at the time of the contact. Some states are getting a bit strange about this, so it is always wise to email your board and ask them for sure.

      Again, do not trust anyone else’s word on this (not mine, and not that of other apparent “authorities”). Your license is a contract between you and your licensing board. ALWAYS ask them directly about the terms of that contract – and do not trust anyone to interpret that for you. After all, your neck is on the line, and not anyone else’s. Besides, their answers are free. You just need to get them in writing. Email is the quickest route to getting those answers. Most state boards have websites where you can send them a question via a link. Answers usually arrive within 3-4 days. If you go the surface mail route, some states can take months to reply.

      Good luck to you!

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