New Telephone-based Telemental Health Services APPI category

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Oct 5, 2015
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About two months ago, APPIC published a release (linked below) detailing new telemental health categories for APPI for assessment and therapy delivered via telephone.

Previously, hours of telephone-based services were considered to be support hours and did not contribute to a student's overall face-to-face assessment or intervention total hours. The new category should now allow these services to add to that F2F total, but they're still coded differently and students will need to provide a breakdown of what these hours were (e.g., DBT vs. health coaching sessions). The changes are in effect as of March 2, 2020, without being retroactive and any prior hours still considered to be support.

So, that's the guidance from APPIC right now, but I'm wondering how this will work in practice, especially for those of you who are supervisors and otherwise have roles in the internship process.
What are your perceptions of these changes?
How do you perceive phone telemental health hours compared to in-person F2F hours?
Do you feel they are equivalent or inferior to in-person F2F?
How would you evaluate students who have substantial amounts of these phone hours?
For sites that have minimums for intervention and assessment hours, how will these telemental health phone hours be treated (i.e., would you consider someone who only met the minimum with phone hours added to their in-person F2F total or would they need to meet it with just in-person hours)?

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For me, I would not hold telephone or telehealth hours against a trainee. While providers are certainly having some strong opinions and reactions to the preponderance of telehealth at the moment, IMO, this isn't something that should be used to penalize trainees. Thus, whether it's practically true or not, in reviewing applications, I would view telephone and telehealth hours as essentially equivalent to F2F (assuming the contacts were related to service delivery and not administrative tasks).

I imagine training faculty/application review members will also have to take this into account when evaluating interns' assessment experience, particularly if the intern had planned to gain assessment experience just as the virus was gearing up.

In actuality, having had telehealth/telephone therapy experience coming into internship will probably end up being helpful for interns as they prepare for the "post-COVID" world, at least over the next year or two.
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Personally, having done both tele and in person therapy and assessment, the tele sessions are definitely inferior. That being said, it's definitely something we will have to consider for the next several application cycles as many people won't have as much choice as things wax and wane.
Likely bad for neuro assessment, limited effect for psychotherapy unless you can go to a TBI rehab place or hospital stuff.

This is one of those times when some trainee is going to have the most documented experience providing a new service in the nation. This could literally set someone up for an entire career. First in, publish, establish your reputation, etc.
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