Virtual Mental Healthcare May Expose Clinicians to Liability


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When the U.S. shut down due to the spike in Coronavirus cases, myriad professionals immediately pivoted to remote delivery of services. Mental health professionals were no exception. They rushed to ensure their patients would continue receiving much-needed therapy via phone or videoconference.

But as the pandemic drags on, many have begun to voice concerns about the particular liabilities that come with tele-psychiatry or tele-counseling.

As a mental health attorney and former healthcare risk manager, I’ve received a sharp uptick in calls from clinicians seeking advice on how to manage the risks of providing virtual mental health services. Many of these risks are technology-specific and concern such issues as patient privacy, but others reflect the reality that remote counseling doesn’t provide mental health practitioners with as much information about patients as they would receive in-person.

To illustrate, an in-person appointment offers clinicians the opportunity to consider minute details about

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