Addressing the Shortage of Rural LPC Supervision
There is hardly a rural LAPC, SW or MFT who hasn't lamented the shortage of local counseling supervision and difficulty finding a distance counseling supervisor. The same applies for distance counseling supervision in Georgia. The core problems are:
1) Often there are simply no credentialed SW, MFT, ACS or CPCS supervisors locally or
2) Prospective licensees are reluctant to obtain supervision from a local employer because if there is a conflict, becoming fully licensed can be jeopardized.
In other words, the job site refuses to sign the directed experience form C or the supervisor refuses to sign the supervision verification form E. Possibly three years--down the tubes. No bueno!
On September 11th 2015, the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists voted to adopt a rule allowing distance counseling supervision in Georgia.
It is formally named "Telemental Health Supervision". It will be helpful to read the actual board meeting minutes adopting the rule chapter 135-11-.01.
What is Telemental Health Supervision in Georgia
Telemental health supervision in GA is defined as, "...the delivery of supervision via technology-assisted media by a supervisor at one site while the supervisee is located at a distant site".
Distance counseling supervision is a mode a delivering clinical supervision that is not face-to-face. Forms of telemental health supervision include but are not limited to telephone and video and chat.
For example, you live in Macon GA. Your LPC clinical supervisor is in Atlanta GA. You meet via phone or video to meet the required 35 supervision hours per year.
Your responsibilities as supervisee and supervisor are still subject to all other board rules. That's it in a nutshell.
Training Requirements for Telemental Health Supervisors
In order to deliver telemental health supervision, Georgia Composite board rules require 6 (six) telemental health continuing education hours plus 3 (three) hours of supervising telemental health therapy approved by an eligible professional association.
The hours are required one time. You do not need to obtain the hours prior to expiration of each biennial license renewal period.
Advantages of Telemental Health Supervision
Besides convenience, there are additional advantages to remote telemental health supervision:
1) Choices, choices, choices. For distance supervision, your choices are probably greatest with a supervisor in metro Atlanta since it has the highest concentration of eligible supervisors.
You can find an LPC supervisor experienced in your clinical specialty or population you work with. For example, if you work with spectrum disorder children, you can find a supervisor experienced in that. If you work with alzheimers and the elderly, you can find that.
2) Information on rules and licensing often reaches rural areas later than urban areas of Georgia. You will have better access to the pipeline of breaking news on Composite Board law and rules and other information you need to know as a counseling professional.
How Telemental Health Supervision Differs from Telemental Health
They are actually completely different.
Confidentiality of Psychotherapy
Telemental Health in the treatment of patients provided by psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists (and several others professional and non-professional) is privileged under GA Code § 24-5-501, "Evidence".
It provides for limitations on admissibility of certain communications as evidence in civil and other legal proceedings. I won't elaborate on the law other than it is the same privilege as face to face psychotherapy.
Clinical Supervision Not Fully Confidential
In Georgia, the only information that is legally confidential between supervisor and supervisee is patient information (attorneys who specialize in administrative law can tell you more about this). In other words, what a supervisee discloses about themselves could be used as evidence. Some supervisors can- and do- disclose supervision information to employers and the licensing board and even use it against supervisees.
Fundamental Differences in the Relationship
With Telemental Health, you are practicing psychotherapy. With Telemental Health Supervision, you are providing services to a peer.
Disadvantages of Telemental Health Supervision
This article on safely providing telemental health and confirming identity is also applicable to telemental health supervision. With telemental health supervision it can be difficult to be fully acquainted with your supervisees work situation, level of employer oversight, licensing history and other important factors.
You would be wise to require a supervision schedule which requires a face to face interview and regular periodic face to face supervision sessions.