What Are the Restrictions on Providing Counseling Services to Clients Outside of California?

The regulations in California allow clients outside of the state to temporarily practice telehealth, so in this scenario the provision of services is allowed. California is not part of the Inter-Jurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, so PSYPACT has no impact on the ability of California licensees to provide telehealth services. When a client is physically in a state other than the state in which the doctor is physically located, both states have jurisdiction over the counseling relationship. People who provide psychotherapy or counseling to people in California must be licensed in California. The regulations state that a California licensee can provide “telehealth services” to a customer located in another jurisdiction only if they meet the requirements to legally provide services in that other jurisdiction, and only if that jurisdiction allows the provision of services through telehealth.

For example, many theorize that a client has to be established in a foreign state for that state's licensing board to have jurisdiction over their care. This notice serves as a travel warning for all current patients and for all California consumers who seek or receive counseling or psychotherapy from one of these professionals. Since the beginning of licensing law in the state, it is likely that clients will expect and should expect that professionals will continue to be available during the course of the professional relationship, especially in times of need and even when the client is temporarily out of state, provided that the professional has not informed the client in advance of the limits or conditions of such availability. The Board does not intend to limit the ability of a California licensee to provide telehealth services to a customer in another jurisdiction. The Board notifies California consumers that if they are traveling to another state and want to receive psychotherapy or counseling by phone (or Internet) with their licensed California therapist while they are away, their therapist should check with the state where the patient is temporarily located to see if it is allowed. Assuming that the case is appropriate for telehealth, the licensee can provide such services to any customer located in California.

This information is provided to help describe the requirements for registering as a marriage and family therapist intern and being licensed as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) in California. The Board cannot make rules for another jurisdiction and providing services through telehealth does not exempt the licensee from any legal or ethical responsibility for practicing or treating a person in that jurisdiction.

Heath Teruel
Heath Teruel

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