The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists
TELE-PSYCHOLOGY – SKYPE
In July 2011, the APA Division 29 task force on tele-psychology observed that internet and cell phone communication do not have the same security as a land line phone. The task force accurately comments that "The Internet is not regulated and not currently protected by privacy laws. Skype, for example, is not an encrypted site and is, therefore, not a confidential means of communication. "The task force further comments that providing psychotherapy on unencrypted sites is ‘ill advised’". The WV Board of Examiners agrees.
Because this does not completely preclude providing such services, extreme caution is advised. For those holding a license to practice in a given jurisdiction, clinical judgment and common sense must be vigorously employed in the choice to use such venue. In such a case, based on the APA's conclusions and recommendations, the WV Board of Examiners believes the psychologist would need to:
1. Contact their malpractice insurance carrier to determine if skype work is covered.
2. Contact the patient's insurance to determine coverage.
3. Use skype with an established patient determined not to be a high risk patient.
4. Make certain the patient fully understands that skype is NOT the same as a phone conversation and is not protected by federal privacy law. It is an open/public forum and anything on skype can be published/used/broadcast/etc. Signed consent would be needed before using skype.
It is somewhat doubtful that all of the above would be approved once the full nature of skype is known, but even then skype should be used on a limited basis, not as a complete substitute for in person treatment.
The WV Board of Social Work has adopted, by legislative process, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics for professional social workers.
Social workers who provide services via electronic media (such as computer, telephone, radio, and television) should inform recipients of the limitations and risks associated with such services.
Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling
Advisory opinion regarding the practice of distance counseling.
As recorded in the October 22, 2010 minutes, The West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling (“The Board”) hereby issues the following advisory opinion regarding the practice of distance counseling:
Under the provisions of W.Va. Code § 30-31-1, it is unlawful for any person to practice or
offer to practice professional counseling or marriage and family therapy in this state without a
license. Be advised, it is the opinion of the Board that the requirements of W.Va. Code
§ 30-31-1, and all other rules and regulations governing the practice of professional counseling or marriage and family therapy, shall be applicable to the practice of distance counseling and shall expressly apply to any person providing distance counseling, as defined herein, to a person who resides, or is domiciled, in the State of West Virginia.
Distance counseling is defined as any counseling, including marriage and family therapy that
is provided by any means other than direct in person services and is facilitated by the use of
technology including, but not limited to, U.S. mail, telephone, telefax, email, internet or
Please note, current licensing rules do not include specific provisions for distance counseling, however, please note the following:
The WV LPC providing distance counseling in WV is required to adhere to the distance counseling requirements detailed in the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics. Please click the title to download your copy. In addition, the board recommends the LPC review the NBCC Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Professional Services to provide further guidance and ethical considerations when providing distance counseling. Please click the title to download your copy.
The WV LMFT providing distance counseling in WV is required to adhere to the requirements included in the AAMFT Code of Ethics, revised January 1, 2015. Please click the title to download your copy. The LMFT will also benefit from reviewing the NBCC Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Counseling Services.