Responding to a Yelp review can cost you

Woman using mobile app / Burst via Creative Commons Zero licenseSites like Yelp, HealthGrades, and Angie’s List present problems for mental health professionals. We typically cannot solicit testimonials from clients, so most clients do not write reviews. When someone does, though, any response risks breaching confidentiality. So therapists usually stay away from review sites. But that leaves us with little recourse in the event that an online review is harsh, incorrect, or even fake.

These concerns are not merely theoretical. In a 2015 disciplinary case out of California, a therapist attempted to defend himself against what he considered false accusations in a Yelp review from an angry client. The therapist responded to the review, but then changed his mind, and took the response down. By the therapist’s report — and there is no evidence that either the client or the licensing board disputes this — his response to the client was online for no more than three to five minutes.

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What to do if you were affected by the TherapyNotes outage

Matthew Henry / Burst / Licensed under Creative Commons ZeroMany therapists and counselors maintain their electronic health records through the site TherapyNotes. (TherapyNotes and this blog are unrelated.) Last week, TherapyNotes was down for several days following the discovery of a ransomware virus on one of their servers. [Update 7/6: They’ve put that link behind a login wall. Here’s a cached version.] If you use TherapyNotes for your records, you may be wondering what to do now.

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Four reasons to move your practice online

USMC videoconferencing familyAs I’ve outlined in the past two weeks, there is a lot we know and a lot we don’t know about online therapy. If you’re considering moving part or all of your practice online, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you have the appropriate technology, and are you comfortable using it? Do you have policies and practices ready for online work? Have you ensured that your online work will be fully legally and ethically compliant, and consistent with best practices like those outlined in the new AAMFT Online Therapy Best Practices guide? Are your clients appropriate for online therapy?

Many therapists wrestle with the choice of whether to practice online. While these are not determining factors — in other words, I’m not saying your final decision should be to practice online, as there’s more to consider than what’s below — here are four good reasons to consider making the move.

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What we don’t know about online therapy

USMC videoconferencing familyLast week, I offered a snapshot of what we know about online therapy. That data shows a great deal of potential for online work. However, there is also a lot that we don’t know about online therapy. In today’s post, I’ll address three of those unanswered questions.

As I mentioned last week, the research base for online psychotherapy is growing quickly. It may be that answers to these questions will be more readily available just weeks or months from now. In addition, the fact that we do not yet have answers to these questions should not stop therapists interested in working online from doing so. But for the time being, these are issues where we as a field are still seeking important information.

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HIPAA compliance: Three great resources under $35

HHS logo. HHS offers information on HIPAA
The US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, confuses a lot of therapists. Parts of the law are flexible based on the size and type of entity involved. Other parts apply equally to every covered entity. It’s a big and complex law, one that sometimes scares therapists and counselors away from using technology in their work.

Thankfully, there are a number of good and inexpensive resources for psychotherapists who want to comply with the law. Each of the ones listed below is less than $35.

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I’m leaving Twitter, and so should you

Bird
This is not the Twitter logo.
Twitter has become one of the world’s largest social media sites. An estimated 200 billion tweets are sent each year, or more than 6,000 per second. The Twitter web site gets more than 90 million unique monthly visitors in the US. It’s easy to mistake that data as an indication that everyone is on Twitter, and therefore you should be too. But they aren’t, and you shouldn’t, and I’ve had enough.

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The Last 100 Hours, Part 2: Is paying to track your hours worth it?

256px-2010-07-20_Black_windup_alarm_clock_faceFifty hours. Five-oh. That is all that is left. It truly is hard to believe just how close I am to being done with my 3,000-hour requirement for MFT licensure.

For a majority of the time I’ve been gathering hours, like most interns I haven’t had a clear sense of exactly how close I have been to being done. California’s process of categorizing and tracking hours for MFT licensure is notoriously complicated. It can be hard enough to keep track of the hours we work, let alone figure out which of the many categories or “buckets” the hours belong under. The process is even more difficult, and often frustrating, due to the maximum and minimum requirements under each individual bucket. Anyone who is currently tracking his or her hours, or who had in the past, understands that this is a daunting process.

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