Continuing Education & Resources for Mental Health Professionals

2015 Virginia Legal Update

1. Virginia Board of Psychology Announces New CE “Carryover”

Law and regulation changes effective July 2015

  • Carry-over of hours of continuing education: With the passage of HB2243 in the 2015 General Assembly, a psychologist who completes continuing education hours in excess of the 14 hours may carry up to seven hours of continuing education credit forward to meet the requirements for the next annual renewal cycleThe change was effective July 1, 2015, so licensees who accumulate more than 14 hours from that date to June 30, 2016 may carry over up to seven of those hours for their renewal in June of 2017.  The new law is posted on the Board of Psychology website at http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/Psychology.
  • Clarification of the requirement for 1.5 hours in ethics or standards of practice: An amendment to regulations became effective on July 16th to clarify the intent of requiring 1.5 hours in ethics or standards of practice.  In the amended language, the Board has specified that the 1.5 hours must emphasize ethics, laws and regulations, including the standards of practice set out in regulations of the Board.  Questions often arise about whether the “standards of practice” refer to those of the professional association or those contained in regulation.  Since the Board disciplines based on law or regulation, the licensee is held to those standards rather than to those of a professional association.”

2. New Virginia Mandated Reporting Law:

A new Virginia reporting law (§ 23-9.2:15. Reporting of acts of sexual violence) became effective July 2015. It  requires “responsible employees” at private or public colleges/universities to report if they have information about a case involving sexual violence that occurs on their campus or involves their students.  This includes reporting “any personally identifiable information.” This reporting is not required from employees who obtained this knowledge in the course of their work in a “privileged” relationship, including “as a licensed health care professional.”  However, for clinicians working as employees of a college/university, it will be important to clarify how this requirement will be implemented.  For other mental health clinicians (including private practitioners), it will be important when counseling students who have been victims of sexual violence not to promise them a level of confidentiality that may no longer apply.  For example, it will be inappropriate to advise them that the incident will not be reported without their consent.  (For example, if the student discusses the incident in the presence of an RA or professor, that individual may now be included among the mandated reporters, depending on the policies developed at their particular college/university about who will be included among the “responsible employees” who must make such reports.)

3. Virginia Child Abuse Reporting:

I have received a flurry of questions about Virginia’s child abuse reporting requirements, specifically about whether we have a reporting requirement if the person who was abused as a child is now 18 or over. It has always been my understanding that Virginia clinicians are legally required to report only if the abused person is still a child (i.e., under 18). However, in response to the increasing concerns, I decided to get a formal opinion.

I placed a request through Virginia Delegate Toscano’s office to obtain an opinion from a legislative attorney in order to confirm that this is the correct interpretation of our reporting requirements. Here is the response from the legislative attorney, which confirms what we have been saying:

Section 63.2-1509 only requires reporting in cases in which “a child” is abused or neglected.  A “child” is any person under 18 years of age (see 63.2-100). Therefore, reporting is only required when a mandated reporter believes that someone under 18 years of age is abused. Once the suspected victim is over the age of 18, there is no mandatory reporting requirement. DSS confirms that this is how they interpret the lataw as well. 

NOTE: If you are licensed in Maryland, that state’s child abuse reporting requirements are different. According to a Maryland Attorney General’s Opinion of  December 3, 1993, if an adult reports that he or she was abused as a child, Maryland clinicians are legally required to report the alleged act(s), even if the alleged abuser is deceased, and even though the authorities may choose not to investigate. It is my understanding that this opinion still stands.  If you learn otherwise, please let me know.

 4. Virginia Insurance Coverage for “Telemedicine”

            Thanks to a question raised by William Mulligan at a recent workshop, I discovered to my surprise that for three years Virginia has had a law requiring third party payers to provide coverage for “distance services” rendered electronically. You might want to read § 38.2-3418.16. Coverage for Telemedicine Services. It applies to “interactive audio, video, or other electronic media used for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation, or treatment” services, but it does not apply to services rendered via telephone or email, or FAX, and it does not apply to Medicare or any other state or federal governmental plans..

5. Providing Services to Patients in a State Where You Are Not Licensed

50-State Summary of Jurisdictional Laws Regarding Temporary/Guest Practice:

            This is an elaboration on the notice we included in a recent newsletter. Are you hoping to provide “distance services” to a client who is away on vacation spending the summer in another state where you are not licensed? You should consult the webpate from APA, “Telepsychology: 50-State Review,” to see whether the other state’s licensing laws will allow you to do that! This chart contains legal cross-jurisdictional requirements for the provision of mental health services by a psychologist if the patient is located in a state in which the psychologist is not licensed. Most states require that you petition your profession’s licensing board in that state and obtain a permit or temporary license. The paragraphs below contain a small sampling of the relevant laws for out-of-state psychologists providing distance services to patients in Virginia, or for Virginia psychologists providing distance services to patients in adjoining states.

Note: As you can see from the chart linked above, each jurisdiction has different requirements, so if you are considering providing services to a patient who is sitting in another state or jurisdiction, it will be important to go to that APA webpage, follow the link for that state’s law(s), and read the entire statute. This chart is provided by a psychology association, so if you are licensed in another profession, it would be important to read the statute carefully and then contact your own profession’s licensing board in that state, to determine whether this also applies to your profession.

Relevant provisions in Virginia and some nearby states:

Virginia: Licensed, out-of-state psychologists may practice temporarily if consulting with Virginia licensed psychologists, or when issued a temporary license by the Board to participate in continuing education programs or rendering psychological services without compensation to any patient at clinics for indigent/uninsured. [Va. Code Ann 54.1-3601(6), (7) ]

District of Columbia: Health professionals authorized to practice in any state adjoining DC may treat patients in DC if: the health professional does not have an office or other regularly appointed place in DC to meet patients; registers with the appropriate board and pays the registration fee prior to practicing DC; and the state in which the individual is licensed allows DC licensed health professionals to practice in that state under the conditions set forth in this section. Health professionals practicing in the District pursuant to subsection (a)(4) of this section shall not see patients or clients in the office or other place of practice of a DC licensee, or otherwise circumvent the provisions of this chapter [D.C. Code §3-1205.02 E ]

Maryland: The Board of psychology may authorize a non-resident to practice without a license if the Board finds that circumstances warrant, and subject to any limitations the Board imposes. In authorizing an exception, the Board: (a) Shall determine whether the circumstances warrant an exception to licensure, taking into account the: (i) Qualifications of the nonresident psychologist, (ii) Psychological services to be provided; and (iii) Duration of the exception to licensure; and (b) May impose any limitations on the psychologist’s practice of psychology that the Board considers to be appropriate. [Md. Health Occupations Code Ann. §18-301(d) ]

North Carolina: Licensed out-of-state psychologists may practice for up to 5 days in any calendar year. Nonresident psychologists shall submit to the Board a written statement from their home state verifying licensure in good standing with a written description of their intended practice at least 5 working days prior to engaging in temporary practice in NC. [ N.C. Gen Stat §90-270.4(f) ]

Tennessee: Licensed, out-of-state psychologists may practice up to 12 days per year for such purposes as special training or consultation, special evaluation or intervention, or serving as an expert witness. [Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-11-211(b)(5) ]

West Virginia: Licensed out-of-state psychologists who petition the board in advance for a temporary permit may practice for a period not to exceed 10 days in any calendar year and must not establish a regular place of practice in the state. Licensure requirements in the psychologist’s home state must meet or exceed the licensing requirements in WV. [W. Va. Code §30-21-3 ]

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