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Georgia Passes New Telemental Health Licensure Rule with Identified Competencies for Required Training

To review our 6-HOUR, 100% ONLINE course for telemental health and addresses each and every requirement by the Georgia Board, click here. It is immediately available online using your computer or mobile device — all from the comfort of your home or office.

In an unprecedented move, after two years of careful deliberations and notification, the Georgia Composite Board for the state’s Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists voted to pass their Telemental Health rule 153-11-01 on September 11, 2015. It will impact both clinicians and supervisors in the state by its effective date, which was October 1, 2015. As we outlined in a previous TeleMental Health Institute (TMHI) article entitled, Georgia’s “Composite Board” Sets the Bar with Proposed Rule for TeleMental Health Practice, this rule is the first of its kind in the United States, in that it:

  • defines telemental health with respect to the modalities involved
  • requires 6 hours of training for all clinicians using any form of technology to conduct any form of contact with clients/patients (and 6 basic plus 3 additional telesupervision hours for supervisors), and
  • stipulates training topics (otherwise known as “competency” areas)

Service delivery modalities (technologies) included in Georgia’s definition of telemental health will officially include:

  • Telephone
  • Video
  • Internet 
  • Smartphone  
  • Tablet
  • PC Desktop
  • Other electronic means

Basic professional training requirements for clinicians include a minimum of 6 CEs in the following areas:

  • Research in telemental health
  • Intake and assessment for telemental health
  • Delivery methods, theory integration for telemental health
  • Termination for telemental health
  • Risk management for telemental health
  • Business of telemental health
  • Internet use dependency and psychological problems

Supervisors are required to have an additional 3 hours of training, in addition to the above 6 hours. (TMHI has been developing such a CE course – 100% online. It will have NBCC and APA-approved CE hours, and will be released next week. Our target date is Monday, October 6 – maybe sooner. Pre-sales are available now.)

Commentary

We at TMHI applaud Georgia’s Composite Board for its bold leadership. For more than 20 years, thousands of licensed professionals have been working online without even the most basic of professional education about the scientific evidence base related to telemental health. The field has long needed courageous regulators to take a stand — and set the bar with required training. Georgia has now done that!

TeleMental Health Institute Professional Training

TMHI offers 100% ONLINE with our training (to access via your desktop, laptop or tablet mobile device). TMHI courses are available immediately and come with NBCC  and APA-approved CE hours.  We are making revisions to be compliant with Georgia’s addition of  Internet use dependency and psychological problems to our basic 6-hour course as we speak, so you can buy now and take the training by this weekend. Our telesupervision course is now being pre-sold. We expect to have it ready for our beta-testers by mid week next week. And yes, you can get CE credit for beta-testing….

Georgia's New Telemental Health Licensure Rule

Are Speakers from TMHI Available for In-Person Training?

Yes, anytime. In fact, the Georgia Psychological Association hired me for their keynote, a full day best practices training and  another half day course for legal and ethical business course for online promotion through websites, blogs, books, ebooks,  APPs, etc.  They sold out the event….

Please see my bio here and my speaking schedule here. You may want to note that I have written two of the leading textbooks in the field and two more are at the publisher’s now. Get your training from the leaders in telemental health. You’ll be amazed at how much MORE you will learn in our online training than in a full day training workshop. Ask your Georgia colleagues who have trained with us. They will tell you how much they learned….)

We also invite comments from you at any time, and especially now.

What does this Georgia ruling mean to you? What do you see as its strengths or weaknesses? 

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6 comments on “Georgia Passes New Telemental Health Licensure Rule with Identified Competencies for Required Training

  1. Marlene, your pointing out deficiencies in Georgia’s telemental health rule makes me wonder if some of these state Boards are flying blind when it comes to keeping up with the regulations affecting practitioners in their states, and would benefit from your input proactively. After these regs. are released, it’s will be difficult to change, but submitting a proposal to these Boards – with an offer to help them craft their new laws, or a template of what the essentials should be – I’m thinking, would be seriously considered.

    Your friend.

    • Hello Joe,

      Thank you for your comment. As the President of the Coalition for Technology in Behavioral Science, I am working with the leading telemental health leaders across disciplines to address the issue of telemental health competencies from a scientific point of view. We met again this week and hope to have our finished competencies in hand shortly. Our goal is to disseminate them to the boards of all seven licensed disciples in behavioral care ASAP: psychiatry, psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, drug and alcohol professionals and where licensed, behavior analysts. Meanwhile, I certainly am available for consultation for all stakeholders. My consultation registration page is here.

  2. The Georgia Composite Board seems to be absent the psychologists? What is that about?

    Also, I wonder what have the medical folks and physicians done along these same lines of definition and training to do online work? This area of “telemedical” health appears to be the place of exponential growth for online treatments and yet I see very little about med docs having to be trained and certified in the practice of online medicine. Why the double standard?

    • Paul,

      Thank you for your note. The Georgia Medical Board passed a similar rule in August of 2014. The Psychology Board is housed under yet another roof, and they have not yet acted with regards to telemental health. I am sure they will over time, though, as will all the other states. Georgia has a history of significant federal funding for the buildup of telemedicine and telehealth infrastructure, given their very rural populations. The US federal government has given them notable funding since the mid 1950’s to build what is now a strong telehealth system. Georgian pioneers all deserve our respect for their very successful efforts.

  3. There is a heated discussion among my fellow dialysis social workers as to whether this is mandatory for all licensed SWs. The way it reads it is only required for those who actually practice this method, but not a general licensing requirement.

    • My suggestion is that you write to the Georgia Composite Board to get the correct answer. Please do not trust third party opinions. A social worker’s license is a contract between the Board and the practitioner. For what it is worth, my understanding after a dozen conversations with various Georgia regulators, professional association leaders and other decision-makers is that anyone licensed in Georgia to conduct social work, counseling or marriage and family therapy is required to have the training. For a review of the course we offer, see this page: http://telehealth.org/individual/101c/

      If someone needs the telesupervision course because they use the telephone for any part of their supervision, this course is also available: http://telehealth.org/individual/telesupervision/

      I hope this helps and isn’t too much of a burden. If you are considering taking our courses, you may like to know how much our trainees like the information we offer: http://telehealth.org/what-others-are-saying/

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