University of Phoenix Considers New Realities for Telehealth and Counselor Training

Telehealth and Counselor Training

University of Phoenix Considers New Realities for Telehealth and Counselor Training | The COVID-19 pandemic forced institutions to rethink the way counselor education is delivered, as recounted in a recent post by Ryan Rominger of University of Phoenix.

Counselor education had to evolve, as did telehealth delivery, due to the impact of COVID-19. This shift created new considerations to address regarding how counselors are trained and gain practical experience to be effective practitioners.

As Rominger notes, counseling programs are regulated by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Historically, the organization focused on delivering in-person, face-to-face services. Telehealth’s role in these programs remained unclear but was often considered a second-rate modality for the delivery of emotional health services.

The global crisis required a significant shift in this thinking. CACREP posted new guidelines such as those regarding client hours and allowing them to be defined as either direct or indirect. These hours cover training and the writing of therapy notes. However, CACREP still requires that supervision hours be completed face to face, and these guidelines remain vague. Does face-to-face supervision include videoconferencing or only in-person interactions? 

“These ongoing (continuing education) trainings and best practices pieces have made us aware that our own education around teletherapy,” Rominger wrote. “It seems that we now have an opportunity to grow counselor education to include issues around practicing teletherapy including learning how to integrate teletherapy into our practicum and internship experiences.”

For universities that provide this instruction, existing guidelines create multiple scenarios that lack clarity regarding the best approach.

  • Student and post-graduate therapists need to clarify with their state regulatory agencies whether in-person or at-a-distance supervision is allowed for completion of hours for full licensure.
  • Programs that want to abide by state guidelines need clarification from states as to whether practicum, internship, and post-graduate students who want full licensure can use video conferencing for supervision mandates.
  • State legislatures need to align state requirements with CACREP guidelines.

If teletherapy and telehealth are more widely accepted for research, training, and education, what is the impact on ethical issues, approved hardware and software, patient privacy, and best practices? We must also consider which disorders or populations these new modalities apply to and the impact on these populations.

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