Revolutionary Changes in Georgia Continuing Ed Requirements

2020-Georgia CEU-LPC-Requirements

2020 Changes in GA Continuing Ed Requirements

Effective 10/20/20, Georgia’s Composite Board of Professional Counselors Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists has implemented a rule change. It allows you to obtain more hours through distance methods. In an unprecedented move, ethics hours in Georgia may now be obtained through webinars and other non face-to-face training if they are real-time interactive.

Summary of Continuing Education Requirements

Georgia’s Composite Board requires 35 hours of continuing education per biennial license renewal period. Renewal occurs on even years. So renewal deadlines are 9/30/22, 9/30/24 and so on.

Historically, electronic or distance CE training was limited to 10 hours plus 5 hours of independent study that many completed on the web. The board rule 135-9 Continuing Education now distinguishes all interactive activities from self-guided non-interactive (“online”). The terms defined in the new rule are Synchronous and Asynchronous.

There are minor changes in forms of activities accepted by the board. It is important you read those thoroughly from the text of the new rule. Select Laws, Policies and Rules from the top menu. Select “Board Rules”.

History of Chapter 135-9 Rule Change

Georgia’s Composite Board of PC, SW and MFT had been writing and revising this rule change for nearly two years. Some trainers objected believing it would negatively impact their business. Others supported the change as a step into the future. The primary purposes of the change were to:

  1. Address shortage and bring high quality ethics workshops to rural Georgia mental health professionals.
  2. Acknowledge advances in internet technology that have become effective means of delivering education.
  3. Align Georgia board CE Requirements with other states.

Continuing Education Rules Enforcement

The rule change becomes effective 10/20/20, however the board rule covers the entire 2020 renewal period. For example, if you obtained your 5 hours of ethics via webinar on 10/1/20 these CE hours should be accepted by the board for 2022 renewal.

Also important to note is your core hours can be obtained via interactive means or webinars (Synchronous).

An Example of Acceptable CEs for the 2022 License Renewal

10 Ethics Hours Via Webinar (Synchronous. Ethics are interchangeable with Core Hours provided they meet all other approval requirements.)
10 Hours of Self- Guided Online Workshops (Asynchronous)
10 Core Hours Via Webinar (Synchronous)
5 Independent Study Hours (Asynchronous)
________________________
35 hours

Got it? Don’t forget to read the new rules thoroughly at the link I provided above. -eric

Simple CEU Requirements for Georgia LPC LCSW and MFT

Ethics Demystified: Simple CEU Requirements for GE LPC CSW MFT

Made Simple: Continuing Education Requirements for Georgia LPC SW and MFT

Pursuant to Georgia Code § 43-10A-16:

• 35 clock hours completed by September 30 of even numbered years.

‣ Five Synchronous ethics hours

‣ Minimum 15 core hours

‣ Maximum 10 Asynchronous (online)

‣ Maximum 5 hours of independent study

**This page was updated of 10/22/2020.** Contained in rule chapter 135-9, continuing education requirements had not changed in many years. However, the rule limiting to 10 online hours was amended when internet education courses and live webinars began to grow rapidly. Many LPCs also wanted to complete an NBCC Approved Live Webinar.

The rule also defines “not more than 15 shall be related hours”. But to clarify, theoretically, you could obtain 100 related hours during a licensing cycle– provided you complete 15 Synchronous Core Hours and 5 Synchronous Ethics. Therefore, there is no maximum number of related hours.

PRO Tip: Take advantage of those Independent Study hours.

The composite board accepts up to 5 hours of independent study activities as acceptable continuing education. Complete some independent research or reading – even if it is informal -to further your professional knowledge. Complete a signed affidavit detailing the research and you will be prepared should the board audit your continuing education during that licensing period.

Good Reads: Understanding Asynchronous and Synchronous: the 2020 CE changes

Purpose of Professional Continuing Education

Innovations and changes occur in all trades. Remember when dentists recommended you brush your teeth up and down? Then they changed it to brush downward. Now apparently you have to use an electric toothbrush.

The same applies to mental health professionals. Patients are treated with new psychotherapies.

Knowledge of brain function has advanced. It is important your counseling is based upon the most current research. Licensing boards are mandated by state governments to protect the public and ensuring competent professionals is included in that mandate.

You don’t want to become a dinosaur in your profession. There are emerging issues in counseling practice. The modern counselor or social worker should be competent in working with trends in sexual behavior and addictions. Importantly, online psychotherapy has changed what constitutes ethical practice. Ethics is the only specific content area that Georgia’s Composite Board requires each renewal period.

History of Masters Level Continuing Education Rules in Georgia

Chapter 135-9 was written shortly after the law creating the Composite Board and the original board members were appointed on September 1 1985. The rule provides more detail to the law at GA Code § 43-10A-16, but the law is brief:

‣ The board shall adopt continuing education requirements.

‣ The number of required continuing education hours would be limited to what is practical and realistic for licensees.

Telemental Health and Diagnose Educational Requirements

These requirements are technically not continuing education. They are educational requirements. Why?

‣ They are only required once.

‣ They are defined differently than CE hours.

You can view the board meeting minutes passing the telemental health rule.The board voted unanimously to pass the rule on September 11 2015 and it became officially effective October 7 2015.

Disclaimer:

I will do my best to keep you current, but I can’t guarantee this information will not change.

Second, the board does it’s best to apply all rules uniformly but having personally performed hundreds of audits there are other factors in evaluating CE certificates. What are CE requirements for GA LPC social workers and MFT? Here it is in detail:

PRO Tip: Complete a continuing education workshop in boundaries.

Did you know the most frequent reasons the licensing board suspends licenses is because of a dual relationship or boundary issue? Sometimes the boundary crossing is not deliberate, but you cannot plead ignorance. Gaining full competence in managing boundaries with patients is an ongoing challenge. You can never get too much training in boundaries.

Find the Continuing Education Rules

For LAPC’s  it helps to have a competent clinical supervisor to assist you understanding, but you are responsible for abiding by all board rules. Tap on this link to the Composite Board CE rules. the it will open in a new window. Attest to the copyright notice. Examine the index. Scroll down to Chapter 135-9 and open it. Here are the main points to remember:

How many hours are required and who needs them?

GA LPC SW and MFT are required to obtain 35 CE hours each even numbered year. If you have been issued any type of license by the Composite Board you must fulfill CE requirements as stated in rule Chapter 135-9 . I will provide examples of different scenarios and you will see there are many different ways of meeting continuing education requirements in Georgia.

Synchronous Ethics Continuing Education

Ethics continuing ed must be face-to-face. Their focus must be ethics. They must be professional association approved as ethics CE hours. These organizations include LPCA of Georgia, NBCC, NASW, AAMFT and so on.

Regardless of your license type, ethics hours are accepted by the board IF they are approved by ONE of those licensing specialties. They can also be counted as core hours. For example, if you are a LMSW who takes 5 ethics hours approved by NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors) the board will accept the hours.

Georgia’s Composite Board does not require continuing education in specific content areas (there are exceptions but I will discuss that later in this post). Not true for some other states. For example some of Florida’s Licensing Boards requires HIV/AIDS related training.

Synchronous Core CE Hours

Core Hours can be face-to-face but may also be completed online. They must be approved by a state or national professional association that represents your licensing specialty e.g. LCSW, LMFT and so on.

For example, if you are a licensed social worker the CE workshop must be approved by NASW or GSCSW or a similar social work professional association. There are other non-professional association courses that are acceptable to the board primarily graduate courses through an academic institution.

Related CE Hours

They can be approved by a professional association or academic institution but not necessarily. There are many many other sources (hospitals and so on) and types of education that qualify as related hours. Related hours provide opportunities to obtain education in other healthcare topics.

Independent Study CE Hours

Just what it says: independent study. Delivering a presentation, personal academic study and similar activities. You are allowed five (5). Prepare a notarized affidavit that you attest to completing the independent study.

What is the difference between online and independent study?

They are entirely different. We frequently engage in professional development activities–general reading and study. This qualifies as independent study. Document the number of hours. Online courses can count as core hours if approved as such. Remember that online is limited to 10 hours.

Example Scenarios

1) As a social worker, you obtained 20 hours at the NASW Georgia Chapter Conference…Five hours were ethics… You also were a presenter of a 5 hour workshop at the same conference… You completed 10 hours sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Family Studies… Rationale: 15 Core + 5 ethics from the conference. 5 independent study from the conference for preparation time of the presentation + 10 related from U of Alabama = 35.

2) As a professional counselor, you obtained 6 hours supervision ethics approved by NBCC…Five (5) hours ethics and boundaries approved by GSCSW…Five (5) hours “Ethics: Understanding the Composite Board Complaints Investigation Process” approved by NBCC…Ten (10) hours of online CEs approved by NBCC for Core Hours… Four (4) hours in medication management provided through Emory University Nursing Department…Five (5) Hours of Independent Study. Rationale: You met your 5 ethics via the GSCSW approved program. The remaining 11 ethics hours can be applied to core since they are approved by a professional counseling association. The 10 online are also approved for Core Hours. You have a total of 21 Core Hours. You have 4 related hours via the Emory University Nursing Department. 5 hours independent study: 21 Core + 4 Related + 5 ethics + 5 Independent study= 35 hours.

The “strategy” used in this scenario is to apply the GSCSW hours for your 5 hours ethics and “save” the professional counseling approved hours for your core hours.

3) Marriage and Family Therapist…

Twenty (20) Hours from GAMFT conference…Twenty (20) Hours at the National AAMFT Conference which included 5 Ethics. Rationale: 35 Core Hours + 5 Ethics = 40 CE hours.

Chapter 135-11 Telemental Health and Chapter 135-12 Testing and Assessment

The composite board added two new rule sections– telemental health and testing/assessment.There is a new testing and assessment law.

There is no telemental health law–only rules.

Review these requirements. Both are one-time requirements hours that may be applied to the biennial licensing renewal period. In other words, these hours can be also used to fulfill PC SW and MFT continuing education requirements. In this instance, you may double-dip.

Telemental Health and Telesupervision

You only need these if you are delivering telemental health or telesupervision. In short, 6 hours of telemental health training and 3 additional in telesupervision ( AKA distance supervision).

Diagnose and Testing Assessment Educational Requirements

In short, 5 or 3  academic clock hours in quarters or semesters respectively. You likely completed these in your graduate program. The course curriculum should include DSM or Psychopathology. The board at it’s discretion can choose to accept other courses. An organized training acceptable to the board. “As of April 26, 2016, persons licensed under this chapter with at least ten years of experience as a professional counselor, clinical social worker, or marriage and family therapist working with people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse and in good standing with the Board are exempt from this requirement.”

For additional questions, inquire directly with the board.

The Art of Reading Georgia Board Rules

Ethics Demystified: The Art of Reading Rules

Part I: Chapter 135-5 “Requirements for Licensure”

A common frustration of regulatory board licensees is reading and understanding the rules that govern their practice license. This confusing process also applies to the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists rules.

It is critical you know the Rules whether you are obtaining Clinical Supervision or other Ethics Training for LPC workshops, SW or MFT, are a Supervisor or Director, applying for associate license, or have been licensed for many years. Not knowing the rules can result in years of wasted time in pursuit of licensure or disciplinary action taken against even experienced and otherwise-ethical licensees.

Obtaining a healthcare practice license requires much more than completing forms, hanging up a sign that you are in private practice and assuming the board will cut you slack subsequent to a board complaint because you plead ignorance of the rules. It just doesn’t work that way.

**This info is current as of 11/20/20. Visit this page regularly as board rules change.**

I’ll start with how to read the requirements for licensure, but this method applies to reading all sections of the board rules. This will provide you with a foundation for understanding the other rule sections.

Step 1 – Download Chapter 135-5, “Requirements for Licensure”

Locate the rules from the Secretary of State website. At the top navigation bar, hover on “Laws, Policies, Rules”. Select from the dropdown menu, ‘Board Rules’. Click on Chapter 135-5, “Requirements for Licensure”. You will then be required to attest to a copyright notice agreeing you will not use for commercial purposes. The chapter will display.

Copy and paste the entire rule chapter into a MS word document and name the file something like “135-5 requirements_date” where date is today’s date. Save to your computer.

Step 2- Read “Definitions”

Find the chapter headings that correspond to your license–AMFT, LCSW, LPC, APC and so on. Then find the chapter subheadings, “Definitions”. Read them.  You will notice some of the definitions will refer you to another definition. Read those. First, gain a thorough understanding of the definitions.

Step 3- Most Important Licensing Concept

Now that you fully understand the Definitions, remember this important concept: ‘Year of post-masters directed experience under supervision in a work setting acceptable to the board’. Notice in this single sentence are EIGHT Definitions. Directed Experience, Year of Directed Experience Under Supervision, Supervision, Post-Masters, Director, Direction, Supervisor, and Work Settings Acceptable to The Board. Review the Definitions again if necessary.

Read the remainder of Chapter 135-5 in it’s entirety. Now download and store all other chapters of the rules. Especially important is 135-7 “Continuing Ed”, 135-9 “Code of Ethics” and 135-10 “Advertising”. You can also download my free 6-page guide, CE Rules Made Easy.

The following is a case example of an LPC application:

Example: Today is 1/1/18. You are an APC applying for an LPC license. You were a Master’s- Level applicant and completed a 600 hour internship with Supervision provided by a psychiatrist. You began Directed Experience as a staff therapist for Peachford Hospital on 1/1/15 so you have been employed there exactly 3 years. You began Supervision with an off-site Supervisor exactly two months later on 3/1/15. The Supervisor is a Master’s- Level LPC whose license was originally issued on 3/1/12. You changed your Supervisor on 3/1/16. The Supervisor is also an LPC with an original license date of 3/1/14. Have you met all requirements for licensure?

  • You have satisfied One Year of Directed Experience under Supervision through your minimum 300 hour internship provided by an eligible psychiatrist.
  • When you submitted your APC application 1/15/15, it determined that your work at Peachford Hospital was a Work Setting Acceptable to the Board.
  • The time period, 1/1/15 – 3/1/15 is ineligible since you were not under Supervision during that period of Directed Experience. At this point you are two months short of the Master’s Level requirement of 3 Years Post Master’s Directed Experience under Supervision.
  • checkYour first Supervisor is an eligible LPC.
  • Your second Supervisor who was Masters Level was not eligible to provide Supervision until 3/17 since they are a master’s level supervisor and were only licensed 2 years and needed to be licensed 3 years when you began supervision with them. So you are also short an additional One Year of Post Masters Directed Experience under Supervision.
  • The board will most likely deny your application.  A likely outcome will be requiring you to obtain 14 more months of Post Masters Directed Experience under Supervision –2 months of Directed Experience while under Supervision plus 12 months by an eligible Supervisor. You may then reapply. *Every situation is different and there are hypothetical factors and matters of board discretion so do not interpret this as absolute.*

Why did this happen and how could you have avoided it? There were two key Definitions you did not read thoroughly–Direction while not under Supervision is ineligible and the definition of Supervisor.

1) You should have commenced Supervision immediately after beginning your work at Peachford Hospital.

2) You should have known a Supervisor must be licensed for a minimum of 3 years.

Now that you have read and thoroughly understand, “Supervision”, you also know that whereas the psychiatrist is an eligible supervisor you still need two years provided by an LPC. Whereas, that second Supervisor should have known they were not eligible, the consequence is that you will need to work for 14 more months before you are eligible to reapply– a waste of your time simply because you did. Not. Read. The Rules.

I will explain how to read Code of Ethics and Advertising in next week’s post. Bookmark this page as I will post updates as the board changes how it applies these rules.

Most importantly to note is the board is becoming more stringent in acceptable work settings and work activity. A common frustration of regulatory board licensees is reading and understanding the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists rules. It is critical you know the Rules whether you are obtaining clinical supervision training for LPC , SW or MFT, are a Supervisor or Director, applying for associate license, have been licensed for many years, are working in a high risk specialty.  Not knowing the rules can result in years of wasted time or disciplinary action

Ethics in LPC License Training and Supervision

Ethics Demystified: Ethics LPC License Training and Supervision

Ethics in Clinical Supervision

Ethics is the foundation of professional practice as well as LPC licensure training and supervision. Ethics isn’t a component of your practice: all aspects of your practice are based upon ethics. It is the cornerstone of the practice of psychotherapy. Your practice can’t survive if you don’t have a solid grasp of what is right and wrong. Morally, clinically and legally. Without that foundation, even the most sophisticated counseling skills are of little value.

None of us are automatically ‘ethical’. You must learn it from more experienced peers. Either through consultation or professional CEU workshops. In a broader sense, LPC licensure training and supervision involves getting a license, maintaining it, and receiving/giving help to our peers.

The state of the profession is determined by those it gives birth to.

In other words, experienced therapists have an obligation to nurture the growth of those new to the counseling profession. Good license hygiene requires a mastery of ethics.

This should start from the time we begin pursuing a license. It transcends professional identity or orientation: this guide applies to everyone licensed to practice psychotherapy including psychologists.

Background

My decision to provide ethics training and supervision was based on my experience serving on the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.  Board members are appointed by the governor. I served for 7 years. When I departed, I wanted to share my experiences with peers. I knew I could have a positive impact on the profession. I felt a duty to share how the board evaluates ethics complaints.

Why ethics should be your top priority

Some of the most common ethical violations are found to be boundary crossings.

For therapists, the greatest job hazard is managing human contact. When our helping turns into rescuing, we have engaged in a boundary crossing. This type of boundary crossing is a common blind spot for new or inadequately trained therapists.

Sometimes therapists lack a capacity to see they have crossed a boundary. This is very concerning and it is compounded when their clinical supervisor doesn’t see it either.

Supervisors must be skilled not only in recognizing boundary crossings, but they must use those skills so together you can get your work back on track.

As you can see, you need a solid foundation in ethics in order to practice safely and fortify where you are most vulnerable. 

What is good license hygiene

Hi-giene (ˈhīˌjēn) noun: conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness. synonyms: cleanliness, sanitation, sterility, purity.

First, hygiene is prevention. As you proceed towards licensure, you should be proactive in ensuring a clean and unblemished license history. You accomplish this by incorporating a system for addressing areas where you need to strengthen your license.

There are 7 essential elements to gaining a solid grasp of ethics and good license hygiene.

7 essential elements of ethics and good license hygiene

Read the Composite Board Code of Ethics

Review the Composite Board Code of Ethics. Georgia professional counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists are all bound by this same code. I cover it with participants line-by-line in my ethics workshop, Understanding the Composite Board Complaints and Investigations Process.

Supervision by a Well-Trained Supervisor

Having a state practice license is a serious matter.  Select your supervisor carefully. For example, if you are working with children, they need to have worked with children. They should state to you their approach to supervision.

Your supervisor should know the board rules and ethics. They need to stay on top of rule changes as well as board policies. They need to be competent in guiding you on ethical dilemmas.

There should be a ‘click’ between you. There is too much at stake to put your pursuit of licensure in the hands of someone you don’t fully trust. You are paying them for your service. They should work on your behalf and in your best interests.

Nonetheless, they should be someone who will also kindly yet bluntly challenge your work. But, if you can’t share challenging ethical situations with your supervisor, it will be difficult for you to develop as an ethical therapist.

Rethink Definitions of Boundary Crossings

We all know the obvious boundary violations. For example, we know not to engage in intimate relationships and barter with clients. However, there are subtle boundary crossings we tend to miss.

Consider how this can roll down hill very quickly. The client begins work. After several months they become disgruntled with their boss who is your friend who gave you the “hook-up” on the job. At this point a breach has occurred. The client further becomes upset with you for connecting them with a job where they have a legitimate harassment case. The client files a licensing board complaint against you for the breach and unprofessional conduct.

Do you want to avoid these types of complaints? Note the following best practices:

CEU Workshops on Boundary Management

From the above illustration it is easy to see why you can never get too much education in boundaries. Research the workshops and presenters thoroughly. It is important the information you learn is accurate and comprehensive.

Presenters/trainers should be in active clinical practice. The workshops should be empowering! You shouldn’t leave with your head spinning feeling more confused and frightened.

Understand There is Always a Power Differential

Even though client relationships can be casual and relaxed, your client idealizes you. It may not be apparent, but clients hang on your every word and see you as the expert. Therefore, clients can be injured easily.

Choose your words carefully and check in with them to confirm that what you intended to convey is what they heard.

Peer Relationships That Are Friendships.

Perhaps the best way to achieve this is to carefully screen and select practice partners and office mates. Having a trusted peer on-site is invaluable.

Working through your ethical dilemmas often requires a non-judgmental third party and the bond of friendship can facilitate this.

Personal Psychotherapy

It is very difficult to effectively practice psychotherapy if you have not been a client in therapy. Personal therapy compliments supervision. It also helps you recognize projections and transference/countertransference. Further, your supervisor will likely confront you when they believe that personal issues are impacting your work and you need to be able to respond to your supervisor.

Putting it all together

Now you can develop a personal system to ensure good license hygiene.

1) On even numbered years, you are required to complete 35 hours of continuing education. Take plenty of ethics courses especially boundaries. 10 hours is good. Choose topics that will help correct weak areas of your practice. Approved ethics courses can be used to fulfill all of your board CEU requirements. You can the round out our requirements with elective workshops.

2) As you encounter ethical dilemmas, you have at least two resources for help: your trusted supervisor and trusted peers. Through CE training you will have skills to interact in an educated manner with your trusted peers.

3) Incorporating and sharing your personal psychotherapy can be very helpful for your development. **More often than not, struggles with a client are related to personal issues and not sheer lack of clinical skills.**

Closing Comments

I have tried to thoroughly cover ethics of LPC licensure training and supervision. If you have questions about this article, feel free to contact me by phone. If it is simple question, I am happy to offer a free phone consultation. Best wishes wherever you are in your career as a therapist!

Holiday Blues?

There is a quote from a famous therapist. “If you think you’ve heard it all before, you aren’t listening.” Each person is unique. Many clients feel lost. It is your role to talk in your sessions and my aim is not to fix you. It is not my role to find you. You seek counseling to find yourself.

Atlanta Depression Counseling with Eric

Thinking of getting a therapist? I work with adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, life trauma, dissociative disorders and gambling addiction.

There are thousands of psychologists, professional counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists in metro Atlanta eager to help you. Like clients, each professional is unique in their approach to provide counseling for depression.verified by Psychology Today

Depression is a broad term but it often manifests as feeling stressed, irritable, sleepless and even unexplained aches and pains. It is the first word that enters our mind when we think about our emotional pain. Depression may also be the “ball of confusion” we feel when we lose a family member, divorce or are struggling in a difficult relationship. Some of the red flags of depression are panic attacks, crying spells, social withdrawal. There are others. Therapy can be incredibly helpful for reducing or eliminating these effects. In fact, many are amazed with their ability to recover from depression and anxiety once they seek help. Therapy can help with many other forms of mental or psychological distress.

I am a therapist. I am also a part time musician. The skills required for both are surprisingly similar. They are equal parts science, art, and craft. When a therapist fuses these skills, clients feel empowered, that their feelings are real, that someone understands them. As a result, they feel less depressed and anxious. When we understand our feelings and beliefs, we learn what motivates our behavior. When we learn what drives our behavior, we can change it. And also change how we think and feel.

Therapy as Science

The science of therapy is learned in graduate school through coursework and research– textbooks on family therapy, play therapy, group therapy, diagnosis of schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. Also, there are many theories and approaches to helping people improve their mental state and change behavior. Some are therapeutically confrontational; assertive approaches to helping you see irrational behavior. Some are atlanta depression counselorshomework based. Some are targeted at specific fears like spider phobia. My therapeutic approach is focused on growth, change, developing healthy relationships, finding peace and happiness. In textbooks, it is known as eclectic or blended therapy. I blend cognitive, interpersonal and experiential therapy.

Therapy as Art

There is a quote from a famous therapist. I don’t recall his name:

“If you think you’ve heard it all before, you aren’t listening.”

Each person is unique. Therefore, I do not perform therapy as a “procedure”. I do not aim to fix you. Since my life is not your life, I don’t tell you what is best for you. You have the ability to make the best choices in your life. My role is to listen and observe carefully and provide a different perspective. Many clients feel lost. As such, it is not my role to find you, but to help you find yourself.

You as an Artist: Making a Sketchbook of Your Life.

With The Art of Experiential Therapy, everything you experience in my office is an opportunity to help you understand yourself, grieve your losses, and allow yourself to feel and heal and grow and change. When you notice something on my desk has been moved a few inches. When I yawn (but that doesn’t happen often-honestly). When YOU yawn. When your eyes tear. When you suddenly change the topic…these are only examples.

Therapy is both scary and exciting, but that is how therapy should work. As they say, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. If you are taking risk and feeling emotion in your sessions with me, you will make progress and feel better.

Therapy as Craft

The seamstress, the carpenter, the brick mason. What do these occupations share in common? They all develop their skills through apprenticeship. As a therapist, you learn special techniques; means and methods and systems. Others teach you. As you collect tools, you place them in your tool box. Some you will use often. Some only occasionally. Nevertheless, all the tools have a purpose. One of these tools are the therapist’s own feelings; their compass. It is when the science moves out of the way and the art/craft moves forward that exciting things happen in therapy. You may come to a session thinking you have nothing to share or discuss. You may leave the same session feeling incredible relief and delight that you had a breakthrough!

“There is no substitute for experience.” – Eric Groh LPC GA Licensed

My Background

Now that you know my science, art and craft for providing therapy, please feel free to book an instant appointment.

Professional Specialties

Professional Ethics Training Specialist

Telemental Health Georgia Rules: Will Insurance Pay?

Telemental Health Georgia Rules: Will Insurance Pay?

*3/15/20: I will update this page as soon as possible. The process has been streamlined with Anthem and there are many more third party payers who have entered the market with telemental health protocols since this post was written in 2015. *

This article will inform the reader of Anthem Blue Cross planned services and they are related to the new telemental health rules in Georgia.

Anthem Blue Cross: TeleMental Health Defined

According to an undisclosed source with Anthem, effective January 1 2016 Anthem Blue Cross (formerly known as Wellpoint) will introduce a video conferencing service delivery system. Eligible psychologists, LPC, LCSW and LMFT may be reimbursed through this system. Psychiatrists are not included in this program.

Anthem defines Telemental Health specifically as live, interactive video conferencing–electronic face-to-face contact as tatlanta_buckheadhe vital element. TeleMental health Georgia rules also include video conference in their definition. Georgia LPC LCSW and MFT rules define TeleMental health as a “mode of delivering services”.

Anthem requires it’s members and providers to utilize a web application (app). This app is a sophisticated system that has built into it aspects ranging from member payment to authorization and claims submission. This allows Anthem to ensure HIPAA and other privacy compliance and provide a structure: the live interactive video conferencing session will be extensively automated. Services will likely include 45 minute sessions.

How do I become an eligible telemental health provider with Anthem?

Basic criteria for eligible psychologists, LPC, SW and MFT are:
1) Current State License and Malpractice Insurance
2) Completion of 6 hours of telehealth education. These hours may be obtained online.
3) Members accessing telemental health must reside in the same state as the counselor/therapist.
You may contact your Provider Relations representative to determine if additional information is available. However, eligibility criteria allow for a straightforward approval process for currently contracted mental health providers.

How does Anthem’s system work with regards to the new Georgia TeleMental health rules?

(Here are my Former Board President’s Practical Guidelines for reading GA Board Rules. This information is both reliable and practical.)
Now retrieve the Georgia Telemental Health Rules at Chapter 135-11 from the GA Secretary of State website. The link will open in a new window. Note the Composite Board CE requirements as they will likely be similar to Anthem’s finalized requirements.

I don’t want to do TeleMental health. Can I choose to simply continue to schedule and see my BCBS clients in my office?

Yes. Becoming a TeleMental health provider with Anthem is elective. You may choose to continue to deliver the mode of face-to-face psychotherapy. Nothing has changed with Anthem regarding electronic communications including scheduling, crisis calls, email and so on.At present, Anthem will not reimburse any electronic communications (Skype, telephone counseling) outside of their web application.

Summary

1) Anticipate that you will need a minimum CE/training requirement if you choose to deliver TeleMental health services.
2) It is likely other managed care organizations will implement TeleMental health services within a similar framework as Anthem.
3) Becoming a TeleMental health provider is voluntary with Anthem BCBS.

Areas Served

I provide services to many areas in Georgia. Stay tuned for more information.