Yesterday I completed facilitation of a two-day Distance Credentialed Counselor training in Springfield, IL. Every time I do a training I meet great people and I learn. In this training there was much concern expressed about therapists being able to cross state lines; how to know what each state’s law says, and whether there is a “clearinghouse’ for such information.
So in this training I heard of two more states that may have implemented restrictive language into their law regarding online counseling- not allowing a licensed practitioner in that state to offer online therapy services to anyone outside the state (MA and NE). I am hoping I can get more clarification and actually see a copy of their language.
And so on my drive back the hotel it occurred to me that one way we can effect change as professionals in our various states and countries is to become active in our professional organizations. If you are in the states and you are member of APA, ACA, NASW, get involved. Join taskforce committees. To have influence in your state, join a state chapter. Volunteer to be on the board. Be part of a government relations or ethics committee. Become the ethics chair of your state chapter. That is how we can begin to educate our colleagues about the value of online counseling. I do not think we should be legislating WHERE online counseling can occur. I think we should be legislating competency.
It is obvious to me that state licensing boards are way behind the curve when it comes to understanding the global community – and global e-commerce. Placing practice restrictions on licensed professionals does not allow consumers choice in treatment, and seems to be a rather paternalistic stance. And clearly, state licensing boards have no clue about the online culture. Most states require practitioners to have taken a class on multiculturalism to obtain a license to practice, yes? Yet the boards do not understand that we have an entirely new culture of people who live within a mixed reality, choosing to receive professional services online through their global community. So if we look at the online community as a culture, then we could make the claim that in this instance, our state boards are not being very culturally sensitive, could we not?
While this issue of “crossing state lines” is rather U.S.-centric, my point in this post is to encourage professionals to become involved in their local professional organizations no matter what country, so that we can all make a difference. We want online therapy to be a viable option within the global community!!
Have a great summer day!