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TeleMental Health Certification, Credential, Certificate, Accreditation, or License

At Telehealth Certification Institute we often hear the following questions:

  • What is the difference between a certification, credential, certificate, accreditation, or license?
  • Which of these is the best for me to show my qualification, and which is a better predictor of competence?  
  • Does my state allow me to provide telemental health services?
  • Are the Continuing Education (CE) hours you provide accepted in my state?

First of all, the reason why someone would care whether or not a clinician has one of these credentials, is because it helps to assess whether or not that clinician is likely to be competent in a specialty area. The term credential is used broadly to include all professional qualifications: certifications, certificates, accreditations, degrees, licenses, or to refer to a specific credential. The definition of all of these terms vary according to who is defining them.

Let’s first start with licensure.  Licensure is provided by a legal body that regulates the law of a certain jurisdiction.  Looking at the United States of America for example, each of the 50 states has the authority to prohibit people from providing a particular service or using a particular title  if they decide to do so. And one of the legal justifications for that is to protect the public. A professional license can either be a practice act and/or a title act. Which means it prevents people from either providing a service (practice act) or using a protected professional title (title act) in a given jurisdiction without having authorization from the government. Licensing boards regulate licensure laws, provide authorization to professionals to practice, set standards for the practice, investigate complaints about licensees, and place sanctions on professionals’ licenses if needed. 

An accreditation is provided by one organization to another. So there are different types of accreditations and these terms are defined differently by different people. There are organizations which will accredit degree programs at universities,  verifying that the program meets certain qualifications and standards set by the accrediting organization. In regards to telehealth, an organization can sometimes be accredited for telehealth services by an accrediting organization.  This is so people can assess whether or not a telehealth program is likely to be competent in providing telehealth services. An accrediting organization reviews all of the policies and procedures of a telehealth organization and conducts an onsite audit to assess the competency of their telehealth practice..An annual review process will follow to make sure that the telehealth organization is still meeting those standards. We provide accreditation to organizations upon request.

There are three main types of certifications: legal certifications provided by legal bodies (similar to licensure), certifications provided by professional associations, and certifications provided by training organizations.   Certifications aim to recognize a clinician's competence in a specialty area, and in some cases aim to ensure that competence is maintained Professional associations can provide the highest standard of certification by following certain procedures: First the association becomes accredited as a certifying body by a third-party accreditation organization. They then establish boards of experts, one to create the requirements and standards for the certification, and another to create the certification exam, for which clinicians are proctored or monitored on-site. The association also approves training programs from third party institutes, sets application requirements for clinicians (often include professional license to practice) and requires them to maintain their certification. Lastly, the association will investigate complaints brought against clinicians who hold their certification. In contrast, other independent organizations (not professional associations) may provide a “certification” for completing their training. This type of certification is rightfully called a training certificate.

A credential in a specialty area of practice is similar to a professional certification in that it often requires other credentials such as a professional license to qualify for it and for it to be renewed but usually without the third accreditation.

A certificate for a specialty generally indicates that a professional has completed a particular training program. Certificate training programs are usually comprehensive programs which cover the essential competencies necessary to meet the standards for practice in that specialty area.Examples of organizations which accredit credentialing organizations are:

Which credential is best to hold and which is a better predictor of competence?  

The title of a particular credential or qualification is not necessarily a good indicator of a telemental health provider’s competence. There is no study which statistically measures this. What is more important is what the clinician needed to accomplish or learn to achieve that credential and to maintain it..  

Factors to consider are:

  • Are there qualification requirements to achieve  the credential? Such as earning a graduate degree, years of supervision, or holding a professional license or certification from a legal body.
  • What is the course work required to earn the credential (topics covered)?
  • Is an examination required for the credential?
  • Does the training provider specialize in telemental health?  This is important because it is a rapidly evolving field requiring true dedication and specialization on the part of an instructor.
  • When was the last time the training was updated?
  • Is there live interaction in the training or credentialing process?
  • Do credential holders have access to an instructor for questions?
  • Is there a live assessment for competency?
  • Is there an evaluation of the credential holder’s policies and procedures for telemental health?
  • Is there a third party accrediting the provider of the credential or the credential itself?  Is the accrediting body familiar with telehealth. 

After careful and ongoing review of all of the codes of ethics, practice guidelines and professional literature we at Telehealth Certification Institute created our TeleMental Health Training Certificate (THTC) program.  The THTC program covers all of the essential competencies of telemental health.  We take pride in many aspects of our program:

  • It is very practical. Our participants can confidently implement what they have learned.
  • We regularly update our courses.
  • We maintain our THTC program on a FULL-TIME basis.
  • Our alumni have access to ask our expert instructor, Raymond Barrett, questions on the training content.
  • We offer different training formats to meet the learning needs of our participants.
  • We have examinations with the online self-study version of the program which effectively measures competency.
  • Our live webinar version of the program allows clinicians to practice their skills and receive direct feedback.
  • Our Telemental Health Starter Bundle offers the THTC training program, a TeleMental Health Provider Workbook (containing sample clinical forms, guided worksheet for creating a telehealth program, and sample policies and procedures), and a one hour consultation with our expert telehealth consultant, Raymond Barrett

For organizations who desire a custom process for evaluating their telehealth program or clinicians we provide:

  • Customize a telehealth training to meet the specific use case of the organization.
  • Customize a telehealth examination.
  • Audit the organization’s workflow and policies and procedures.
  • Provide live training for staff.
  • Provide live assessment of competency of their clinical staff and learning plans for improvement.

Does my state allow me to provide telemental health services?

Professional certifications, credentials, certificates, and accreditations often get confused with licensure and certifications provided by state governments in the United States.  Individual states can create a professional license certification which regulates whether an individual can provide a service or use a title in their state. It is normally within the scope of practice of a behavioral health provider’s license to provide telemental health services to clients/patients who are located in that state. States often create telemental health rules and regulations which may specify which means of communication are allowed  for telemental health services, and might require that clinicians receive a specific amount of continuing education in telemental health.  Note that state governments often use several different terms for telemental health, telehealth, teletherapy, etc.  

Similar to a legal license or certification to practice, a professional credential in telemental health helps in assessing whether or not a telemental health provider is likely to be competent in providing those services.  However, state governments generally do not concern themselves with whether or not a professional holds a credential from a private organization. States do however, require that clinicians only practice within their boundaries of competence, and some require approved training and application for specialty areas such as telemental health.  

Are the Continuing Education (CE) hours accepted in my state?

Most of the licensing boards require that clinicians earn a specified amount of continuing education every renewal period for their license or legal certification.  It is important to review the specifics of these requirements on you state board’s website.  You can then view the CE information for each of Telehealth Certification Institute’s course offerings under “CE Hours” on each course page.

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Oustanding presentation!!!
Michelle Collins

Helpful and inviting information to get started. Feel empowered to get this going and eager to start!

Dena Damaskinos

Well presented, easy to access and understand.

Sedonia Perrier
CEO / Steelhead LLC

This was very informative.

Wendy Pazdur
Substance Abuse Counselor / Transformation therapy
This course was full of detailed information, that I will utilize in my practice. I highly recommend this training to all interested in adding to their existing practice or transitioning to Telehealth Services.
Utopia Session
Class was informative.
Kimberly Horrell
This course was short yet informative.
Annette Cornish
Therapist / Dust 2 Destiny Counseling & Wellness
Great training!
Jacqueline Hayes, M.Ed., LPC, LMHP
Professional Counselor 4 / State of LA
Ray was a wonderful, interactive instructor who really captured the heart of counseling in the world of Telehealth. The course was thorough and beneficial. Two thumbs up!
Rachel Morales
Licensed Professional Counselor
Ray does a spectacular job presenting the ethics in technology! Thank you!
Elaine Marie Barclay
Licensed Professional Counselor/ Assistant Professor / Shorter University/ Capella University
Very beneficial and useful to the direction i am moving of providing therapy
Linda Marie Margosian, MS, NCC, LMHC
I thought the video was very informative and gave me a good back ground on Telehealth , hippa laws and things I needed to know to run an ethical and hippa complent practice .
Meg Maginn
Director /private practitioner / Eating Disorder Associates

I believe this is a good course to take because this is the new wave of society. As a therapist I would like to be able to offer clients the best tools available.

Wihletta Michelle Davis MA, LPC
Therapist / Find the Miracle Within...
This course was very informative for me as a clinician and for my profession
Roseline Ngoeh
Community Clinician / NPS

Thank you for the introduction to telemental health.

Michele Frances Purvin
Psychotherapist / Michele Frances Purvin, LCSW, LCDC

Very good.

Franklin Castillo

Really excellent training full of valuable information and resources - surpassed my expectations!

Dori Ryherd
Therapist / The Cognitive Refinery

Great information with step by step instructions

Donna Tucker
Addiction Counselor / Spectrum Health

What a superb introduction to telemental health, well organized and packed with useful tips. I so appreciate this. Thank you.

Ann P Cahouet
Owner - Clinician / Equine Assisted Solutions LLC

Awesome job! This is a very insightful presentation.

ZUNILDA CHAUDRY
Licensed Therapist, LPC / Seasons of Change Behavioral Health Services, Inc
Ray is down-to-earth, warm, pragmatic and exceptionally well-informed.
G. Reid Doster, LPC, LMFT
Director of Behavioral Health, EXCELth Inc.Primary Health Network & Private Practice Psychotherapist / www.excelth.com

An excellent course, but needs more legal information regarding where the patient needs to reside.

Barry Barmann
Clinical Psychologist / Behavior Therapy & Family Counseling Clinic
This legal course was phenomenal saturated with much detail and clarity!
Elaine Marie Barclay
Licensed Professional Counselor, Assistant Professor / Capella University and Shorter University
Great and very informative! Will help me take my skills to a new level. Gave me a great idea of how the session should go.
Jessica Latin
LPC / JL Counseling

Course provided several case scenarios regarding Interstate counseling and resource websites for further research.

Cowenda Jefferson
Clinical Director / Wise Life Choices LLC
Course provided additional information regarding the legal aspects of TeleMental Health.
Cowenda Jefferson
Clinical Director / Wise LIfe Choices LLC
I have completed prior training by Raymond and greatly appreciate his detailed and thorough trainings.
Dr Lynn Duffy, PsyD, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, BCPCC, BC-TMH, Diplomate/CMH in Trauma
Director/Counselor/Mediator / Lighthouse Counseling & Consulting Services
This course was most helpful in helping me make my practice more compliant for me and my clients.
Marlene Small
Private Psychotherapist
This is the 4th TMH course I have taken with Ray and it is BY FAR the best TMH training out there. I've learned so much that I can use every day in my practice.
Dawn Ferrara
LPC-S, LMFT

Very Informative

Naomie Pierre
community clinician / nps
I loved this course. It was very informative and provide a great deal of information about ethics.
Tracey Marshall
Easy to learn and easy to follow. User friendly on-line course.
Kelly Johnson
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

Awesome

Melissa J Davis
LAPC- counselor
This was a phenomenal training and necessary for the continued growth of all helping professionals. This will certainly improve the manner in which I conduct counseling.
Elaine Marie Barclay
This training was extremely informative and supportive for professionals looking to gain further knowledge in Telemental health.
Marcy Abramsky
LCSW / Marcy Abramsky LCSW, InspireAmind TM Counseling and Consulting
I found this video to be very informative and helpful.
Michelle Parker
Contract Therapist

Great course, very informative!

Ashley Simmons
BCBA / Northstar Psychological Services

Love the course, worth every penny!!! Definitely helped jump start my Tele-mental health services!

Nakia Clark
Owner/ Therapist / Insightfullly You, LLC

This gave me and my staff some important insights and information regarding telehealth..

Larry Cowan
Executive Director / Samaritan Counseling and Growth

This course was easy and user friendly

Vanessa Reiser
Social Worker / JBFCS

I learned a great deal from this program and look forward to implementing telemental health in my therapy practice.

Michelle Hitchcock
Therapist

It was fantastic! Just the forms he provides are worth the cost of the course!

Mark Wagemaker, LPC, NCC, DCC, CPCS
Counselor, Clinical Supervisor / Transitions Counseling

This was an excellent class and worth my time.  Ray provided great information and is clearly an expert in TMH!

Jennifer Stuckert
Director / Restoration Counselor of Atlanta, LLC

I found these courses informative and helpful. They make establishing best practices policies and procedures for telemental health services and supervising those who provide them. so much easier. I highly recommend his courses.

Nena Rybarczyk, MA, EMBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS
Counselor / Strategies for Life Counseling, LLC

Ray's workshop was one of the most informative I have taken in years. He brought clarity to took a topic which has been intimidating and I left feeling empowered!

TRUDY POST SPRUNK, LMFT-S LPC CPCS RPT-S CPT-S EMD
Clinical Supervisor and Play Therapist / Georgia Association for Play Therapy