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The Faculty

  • Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.

  • Myron L. Pulier, M.D.

Texting & Behavioral Health: Basic Do’s and Don’ts

CE 3 CE Hours

Course Description

Text messaging is the communication of choice for Generation Y, those born between the late seventies and the late nineties, many of whom regard phone conversations and email as obsolete and old-fashioned modes of communication.

In fact, the popularity of texting amongst all cell phone users has increased dramatically in just a few years. However, the importance of text messaging (SMS) and the risks it brings should not be taken casually by psychotherapists. As with any other conversation a counselor may have with a client, safeguards must be in place to properly record and document the texts produced during a patient’s treatment. Despite many therapists’ reluctance to text with patients, consumer demand for the efficiency of text messaging may outweigh its disadvantages.

This course will cover how to think about text messaging, some clinical issues related to text messaging and the legal as well as ethical requirements we face when we choose to use text messaging with mental health consumers. Encryption, security, downloading messages to one’s computer and specific technologies that can be used for these functions will all be covered. Three real life stories about how to use or not use text messaging and cell phones will bring this issue to life in a way that makes it relevant to the everyday practitioner.

Course Objectives

  • Outline 5 risks to text messaging and how to remedy them
  • Outline where to seek guidance for how to best use text messaging within a professional relationship
  • Identify one way clients and patients may feel betrayed when an unwitting professional uses text messaging for professional interventions
  • Intelligently discuss how a professional might handle data storage and retrieval challenges with text messaging
  • Name 1 law that is relevant to text messaging
  • Explain how encryption is relevant to text messaging and how to get one’s cell phone encrypted


Introduction to Telemental Health Theory and Practice
  • Problems
    • What’s TMHI’s Position about Text Messaging?
    • What Is a Cautious Professional to Do with Texting?
    • Text Messaging and “App” Security
    • Other Hidden Dangers
    • We’re Not Done Yet
    • Case Studies
  • Solutions
    • Informed Consent
    • Recording and Storage
    • Emergencies
    • Encryption
    • Six Secure Messaging Apps that are “Secure”
    • Specific Suggestions for Organizations
    • Health Promotion and Behavior Change
    • Clinical Risk Management
    • A Closer Look at Security and Privacy
    • Technical Risk Management
    • Legal Risk Management

Required Reading

All required reading materials are included with this course.

Intended Audience

Psychiatrists, Internists, Pediatricians, Gerontologists, Nurses, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Therapists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Behavioral Analysts Substance Use Professionals, CEOs, COOs, Administrators, Billing & Coding Staff


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