Telemental health offers psychologists a tremendous opportunity: the ability to increase access to psychological care for people who, for a variety of
reasons, are not able to meet with a practitioner face-to-face.
Most commonly, telehealth services include providing
crisis intervention to clients over the telephone in between in-person sessions, delivering clinical services across long distances
via interactive videoconferencing to clients who would not
otherwise be able to receive treatment, and using smartphone
apps to augment and enhance treatment services provided.
Unfortunately, the great benefits that can come with
telemental health also introduce a number of ethical, legal,
and clinical challenges. In this article, we present two cases that
highlight the benefits and risks of telemental health.
Case #1: Unforeseen ethics concerns
Dr. Ino Vater, a licensed psychologist, sees telemental health as
a potentially lucrative way to expand her private practice. She
develops a business plan that includes advertising her services via
the Internet to tap into new markets. She plans to begin offering
email counseling with a guaranteed 24-hour response time at a
rate of $25 per email. She also plans to offer online individual and
group psychotherapy via Skype.