The Practitioner’s Guide to Telehealth Etiquette

If you just started offering telemental health sessions, or you’d like to refresh your virtual professionalism, this telehealth etiquette guide includes practical, actionable ideas. As a therapy delivery method, telehealth expands your clinical practice options and your client base. But since most counseling programs train therapists to deliver in-person services to individuals, families, and couples, pivoting to telehealth can be challenging. 

Below are some telehealth etiquette tips to keep in mind:

Do your prep work

  • Research and gather the necessary technology. At the bare minimum, you will need a video conferencing platform, camera/microphone, and a reliable internet connection. 
  • Create a plan B for technology failures during a session. You might want to have an additional laptop, external camera, microphone, and hotspot available.
  • Headphones/earbuds and a white noise machine can be useful to conceal your conversation and preserve your client’s confidentiality. Consider your location too, and how the sound carries in your virtual office.
  • Become comfortable enough with your technology to troubleshoot problems. Give the client a backup phone number, and ask for their contact details, to establish a secondary line of communication.
  • Conduct a speed test and audio/visual check before clients sign in. Most platforms, like Zoom or Doxy.me, have this option available for users. 

Consider telehealth law, ethics, and confidentiality

  • Carefully secure client data and health information in the digital environment. Therapists utilizing telehealth should know what devices or communication methods could leave your client’s protected health information (PHI) exposed. 
  • Ensure that your video conferencing software is HIPAA friendly.
  • Be aware of the security risks associated with emailing and text messaging.
  • If the session is conducted by phone, ask identifying questions to verify that you are speaking with your intended client. 
  • Since the client may be in a hostile or public environment, guarantee that they are in a safe place to conduct the session.

Maintain your professional standards

  • Think through your personal appearance. Looking the part motivates your clients to hold telehealth sessions to the same standard as in-person meetings. Wear an appropriate, professional outfit that reflects your credibility.   
  • Consider how to create a visually therapeutic environment, such as by including greenery, inspirational wall art, or calm light sources into your decor. Even though you are connecting virtually, you can still invite your clients into a warm, welcoming space. 

At the end of the day, you’re the one taking charge of your telemental health sessions. The client ideally meets you partway, but you keep the process running smoothly. It’s also worth considering how to communicate etiquette suggestions to your clients, so that you reinforce expectations from the beginning.

If you are looking for a comprehensive telehealth training (that includes telehealth etiquette), over 20,000+ clinicians have participated in our training programs, including the Telemental Health Training Certificate program (THTC). This online self-study covers the essential ethical, legal, technological, and clinical competencies of telehealth. 

By: Michael Tugendhat

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The course was so informative and I was glued to my screen for the entire duration. I received so much knowledge concerning ethics in telehealth and I am greatly encouraged to read about all the standards and policies that pertain to my practice. Thank you!
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The training was very informative, there was more in-depth information to the details of privacy and HIPAA on an electronic level that I was not aware of. The more technological part of it was new information to me.
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Mental Health Counselor
Very informative! Well organized! Takeaway- protect yourself- know your ethical code and standards/ be insured.
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Private practice / Thaxton Holistic Wellness
I learned a lot in this course and will put what I learned into practice when I move my home office space.
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This course was eye opening and highlighted some definite areas for improvement to better address emergency management planning.
Nikkita Scott
Director of Counselling & Student Activities / Bbermuda College
I took the Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider Training Certification Course in 2018, I feel so lucky to have found the TeleHealth Certification Institute. It's a top notch training center which has continued to provide me with tools and the knowledge to grow my private teletherapy practice. I recently participated in the TeleMental Health Preparedness Summit 2020 and was definitely not disappointed. The excitement and enthusiasm from the participants and TeleHealth Certification Institute staff is contagious. I've been inspired, since, to look into taking more courses, and joined their FaceBook group. I will likely join their consultation group in the near future. I don't believe there is another training institute out there that is as good as this one for everything telebehavioral health. Thank you Ray! You are a visionary!
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Psychotherapist, solo practitioner / Larissa Golloub, LCSW
This course was very interesting and allowing me to understand the way telementalhealth services need to work correctly.
Patricia A Hill
Mental Health Counselor II and LCDC, MAC / Central County Services
This was quite beneficial. You explained well at a comfortable pace and you provided sufficient details for me to develop an Emergency Management Plan. Thank you!
Dr. STEPHEN KIURI GITONGA
Necessary technological guidance!
Frances D Murdock
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Summer Allan Wilson LCSW-S; Nationally Certified TFCBT
Pediatric Psychotherapist / East Texas Family Guidance Center
The training was well structured and presented by a knowledge individual. Information shared in the training was useful, clear, and concise and can easily be incorporated into future practice techniques.
Dora Falls
LPC, MAC Private Practice - / Private Practice
This course was very informative and very relevant to today's telehealth practices!
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Wonderful free training. Helpful discussion on how to aid clients in breaking out of the negative thought trap.
Jaime Wright

The course was very detailed and informative. It covered everything that is necessary to work with Tele mental health.

Cynthia Allison
Mental health Counselor / Friendly Therapy LLC
Very informative training, instruction was clear and easy to follow
Jill Bogan-El
Therapist
Easily one of the best online or in-person workshops I have ever attended. The information was unbelievably relevant to current practice with our students doing e-learning and having to provide online therapy and support. Thank you so much for this workshop and the information.
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counselor/therapist / Jodi Province Counseling Services
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Licensed Mental Health Counselor; Adjunct Professor / Greater Things, LLC; Florida Atlantic University
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School Counselor / Baltimore County Public Schools
Vey helpful and user friendly. Most importantly informative. Very good information to enhance an individual's practice.
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Brillant concept and a great way to support counselors as they transition into on-line therapy/services.
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License Professional Counselor / The Wellness Institute of Atlanta
Very informative. I learned things that I wasn't aware of about state laws!
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Counselor / Tamara Coleman Counseling LLC
This course is providing me with valuable information that will be helpful in providing competent and effective services for clients.
Nancy Sweet-Holp, LMSW
Therapist / Liberty House of Albany
Very well done. Encourages active engagement in telemental health process while guiding effectively.
Chris Brotherton
Marriage and Family Therapist / Addiction Counselor / Brotherton Counseling LLC