Telebehavioral Health Competencies

Teletherapy Competencies, the What and How

We’re always eager to talk about telemental health competencies and how important they are to teletherapy training programs, but it can be difficult to determine which educational content areas are most useful for you. Universities considering graduate program competencies in telebehavioral health training for their staff and/or students may be seeking guidance in selecting the most effective program. In this article, we describe the course qualities that are often seen in relevant, well-rounded telemental health programs. Using current teletherapy research studies, you’ll see how similar teletherapy competencies are gaining prominence across numerous clinical professionsand why you could benefit from learning them.

Research Supports Teaching Core Teletherapy Competencies

In their research, Dopp et al. (2021) targeted eight telepsychology competencies and surveyed doctoral psychology student responses during their teletherapy training. The results were inspiring for telemental health professionals who are interested in prioritizing the competencies that are the best fit for clinical roles.

According to researchers in the Dopp et al. (2021) study, participants named technology as one of their biggest stumbling blocks when engaging with clients from a distance. Issues with connecting remotely, completing in-person administrative tasks, technological literacy, and ever-changing technology practice standards were noted as barriers. Although participants ranked cultural competence highest in confidence, because of teletherapy’s flexibility, students confronted a wider range of cultural backgrounds than expected via teletherapy (Dopp et al., 2021). Having in-depth training in cultural competencies from a teletherapy perspective can have a profound effect on teletherapy effectiveness.

Participants in the study also revealed that there was a wide discrepancy in how exposed they were to various modalities used to facilitate teletherapy sessionswith a high proportion of students reporting no exposure to text message communication (84% ), email (74%), mobile applications (68%), and internet-based services (68%) (Dopp et al., 2021). The numbers told a clear story: choosing to train in only one teletherapy modality could limit your ability to confidently serve clients.

Going a step further, students self-rated their competence across the eight competency domains; and as the study demonstrated, no student rated a category as being at the high or expert threshold (Dopp et al., 2021). The benefit of a comprehensive, engaging program of study—like our TeleMental Health Training Certificate (THTC) program—is that you can advance your mastery across several domains at once.   

The Telemental Health Training Certificate (THTC)

As an approved program curriculum meeting the training requirements for the Board Certified–TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH) credential awarded by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), our THTC training program prepares you for the CCE’s TeleMental Health Examination (TMHE). By addressing practice concerns; emerging teletherapy research; and legal, ethical, and technology standards, we deliver coursework that increases your awareness, expertise, and confidence in teletherapy.

How our THTC Program can Prepare you for the TMHE 

The CCE’s new guidelines on telemental health competencies encourage students to gain greater proficiency in numerous practice domains. These standards have been developed with input from several subject matter experts in telemental health services and are supported by current telemental health literature and education.  CCE identified six core competency domains (listed below).  To address those core competency domains they identified fifty-eight associated skills and sixty-seven knowledge areas which can be found on CCE’s website. Since our THTC program is an approved training curriculum, all of the CCE’s recommended skills and knowledge areas have been included in our TeleMental Health Training Certificate (THTC) program. 

Competency Categories from the TMHE

  1. Professional Orientation to Telemental Health
  2. Client-Practitioner Protocol
  3. Disclosure and Informed Consent
  4. Technology
  5. Professional, Legal, and Ethical Considerations & Compliance Standards
  6. Crisis Management

Since it’s difficult to fully master the numerous competencies above if you haven’t practiced using them, our live webinar format lets you try the skills that you’ll be relying on in the field. Based on feedback we’ve received from former and current students, this interactive component has been immensely helpful in building student confidence. Our graduates have told us that partnering the expansive THTC curriculum with an active learning environment has been a real difference maker when transferring their skills to the counseling room.  

Students often enjoy supporting one another as they move through coursework together. Creating an accepting online classroomwhere students can openly express their own struggles about facilitating telemental health servicesis at the core of our live courses. As an organization, we are committed to studying evolving teletherapy research and industry best-practices so that you can be an informed, in-demand practitioner!

By Michael Tugendhat

Sources

Center for Credentialing and Education. (n.d.). The telemental health examination (TMHE) content outline.

Dopp, A. R., Mapes, A. R., Wolkowicz, N. R., McCord, C. E., & Feldner, M. T. (2021). Incorporating telehealth into health service psychology training: A mixed-method study of student perspectives. Digital Health, 7, 1-15.

National Board for Certified Counselors. (n.d.). The board certified-telemental health provider (BC-TMH) credential.

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