Telepsychology and other forms of Electronic Communications
Electronic Communications in General:
Mobile Phone: Treatment is most effective when clinical discussions occur in person at your regularly scheduled sessions. But if an urgent issue arises, you should feel free to attempt to reach me by phone at (248) 553-9053. You must be aware that communications via cell phone are not encrypted in anyway and are not confidential.
Email and Text Messaging: Because of the technology involved, I cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any information communicated by email or text messaging. Email communication and text messaging may be used for administrative purposes such as setting and changing appointments and questions about billing. Communication through Email and Text re not encrypted and are not confidential. Any discussion of personal information through email or text should be done at your discretion.
Email Attachments: Monthly billing statements sent electronically contain Protected Health Information and are not HIPAA compliant. If you would prefer to receive your monthly statements via US Postal Service mail that can be done by simply making that request verbally or via email at Dr.Caretto@BeTreatedWell.com
I have a legal and ethical responsibility to make my best efforts to protect all electronic communications to the best of my ability. However, the nature of electronic communications technologies is such that I cannot guarantee that our communications will be kept confidential or that other people may not gain access to our communications.
I will try to use various methods to help keep your information private; you also should take reasonable steps to ensure the security of our communications. Examples of such measures include having passwords to protect the devices used for electronic communications and using secure networks for telepsychology sessions.
Mobile phones, email and texting are not private and confidential modes of communication and you should only disclose personal information via this technology with the full understanding that it may be intercepted.
While the privilege of confidentiality and the exceptions to confidentiality that I am bound to as a Clinical Psychologist Licensed by the State of Michigan (which were outlined in the initial consent to treatment) still apply, your use of any of these aforementioned methods of electronic communication constitutes consent to waive the privilege of confidentiality to the extent that the technology is not secure.
Please note that your monthly billing statement contains Protected Health Information and my email is not encrypted. If you prefer to receive your monthly billing statement via mail rather than electronically you can request that at any time.
Benefits and Risks of Telepsychology Specifically:
Telepsychology refers to providing psychotherapy services remotely using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing via ClockTree. One of the benefits of telepsychology is that we can engage in services without being in the same physical location. Though this is convenient and permits continuity of care when confronted with challenging circumstances, there are some differences between in-person psychotherapy and telepsychology, as well as some risks. For example:
• Risks to confidentiality. Because telepsychology sessions take place outside of the therapist’s private office, there is potential for other people to overhear sessions if you are not in a private place during the session. On my end I will take reasonable steps to ensure your privacy and I suggest that you participate in telepsychology services only while in a room or area where other people are not present and cannot overhear the conversation.
• Risks due to technology. There are many ways that technology issues might impact telepsychology. For example, technology may stop working during a session. Though I have an agreement that Clocktree will comply with HIPAA, there remains the possibility that other people might be able to get access to our private conversation, or stored data could be accessed by unauthorized people or companies. At a minimum, it is imperative that we both use a secure internet connection rather than public/free Wi-Fi for all telepsychology sessions.
• Risks related to crisis management and intervention. I reserve the right to refuse to engage in telepsychology with you if you are in a crisis situation requiring high levels of support and intervention which cannot be adequately administered from a distance. In these situations, I may determine that telepsychology is no longer appropriate and that we should resume our sessions in-person or may refer you to a more immediate or intensive clinical service.
• Risks to efficacy. Though research shows that telepsychology is about as effective as in-person psychotherapy, it is my belief that something is lost by not being in the same room. This physical distance may hamper my ability to observe non-verbal information and thereby lessen my efficacy.
Fees and Cancellations:
The same fee will apply for telepsychology as applies for in-person psychotherapy and you will be billed the full fee for telepsychology appointments not kept with at least 24-hour notice by phone. Now that telepsychology is an option, I am no longer waiving the fee for late cancellations due to health reasons. If it unsafe to meet in person, we can meet via telepsychology.
Please be informed that insurance providers may not cover sessions that are conducted via telecommunication and they will never reimburse for a session that did not occur. If your insurance or HSA will not reimburse you for telepsychology sessions, you will still be responsible for the entire fee of the session.
Assessing, evaluating, and intervening in the rare instance of a mental health emergency can be more difficult when conducting telepsychology than in traditional in-person therapy. To address some of these difficulties, we should create an emergency plan for telepsychology services.
I will ask you to identify an emergency contact person who is near your location and who I will attempt to contact in the event of a crisis or emergency. By providing that information you are authorizing me to contact your emergency contact person if clinically needed. Declining that information, or my inability to reach that individual, will leave me only with the option to contact your local police department if an emergency occurs.
If our telepsychology session is interrupted for any reason, such as the technological connection fails, and you are having an emergency, do not call me back; instead, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room. Call me back after you have called or obtained emergency services.
If our session is interrupted and you are not having an emergency, attempt to reconnect to the session via the reconnect option on ClockTree. If we are not reconnected within two (2) minutes, I will attempt to call you at the phone number I have on record for you and we can discuss the option of proceeding via a less secure technology or rescheduling the appointment.
If there is a technological failure and we are unable to resume the connection, or if you opt to decline continuing via a less secure technology, you will only be charged the prorated amount of actual telepsycholgy session time.
The telepsychology sessions shall not be recorded by either of us in any way unless agreed to in writing by mutual consent. I will maintain a record of our session in the same way I maintain records of in-person sessions in accordance with my policies.
Summary and Consent for Telepsychology:
You have the right to withdraw consent for telepsychology at any time without negatively impacting your right to future treatment. Likewise, I have the right to terminate treatment via telepsychology if your mental health status is such that the limitations of the technology no longer meet your needs. If that occurs, I will offer you one or more alternatives.
The privacy laws that protect your confidentiality in therapy also apply to telepsychology. However, telepsychology may not be as effective as in person therapy, may experience service interruptions, and may be subject to breaches in privacy.
Furthermore, we agree to not record our sessions and that in an emergency a trusted contact person or local police may be contacted.
To complete the Consent for Electronic Communications: Telepsychology
please go to form.jotform.com/201107941200135