Online case consultation in private practice

Online consultation for therapists- do's and don'ts to stay ethical.

Online consultation for therapists- do's and don'ts to stay ethical.

Therapists of the world you need clinical consultation. You want clinical consultation. You crave clinical consultation. We have this wonderful online community- so how might you use online groups to get case consultation? 

Therapists We Are Judged by our Peers

The truth is, we are judged by our peers. If there is ever any question about whether we are providing appropriate services and treatment to our clients, courts of law use other therapists as the litmus test as to whether what we are doing is consistent with the standard of care. This makes asking for, and receiving clinical consultation from other therapists both scary, and necessary. 

Clinical Consultation for Therapists

Clinical consultation is the act of reaching out to other therapists for feedback either in a group, or individually. You can reach out to someone at a peer level, a colleague with a complementary specialty, or a paid consultant with advanced training and specialization in a particular niche. 

Connecting with Therapists Online

Many therapists have had an amazing realization in the last few years. They can connect with fabulous therapists from around the world easily, and quickly on Facebook and LinkedIn. These groups often facilitate introductions of therapists who wouldn't have had an opportunity to meet in any other context. It really is an amazing thing! 

Online Consultation and Security

However, to date, there aren't any HIPAA compliant groups where therapists can get secure online case consultation. Groups are fine for getting book recommendations, asking about general business practices, or helping to hone your search for a referral source- however, it isn't somewhere it is currently legal to post details of a client's case. 

Limits of Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

I often see therapists reaching out for support, advice, and direction online and it really is a tricky situation. On one hand you can give a very general scenario, and get 30 responses from varied therapists from around the country in just a few hours (sometimes less). On the other hand, therapy is nuanced and complex. A post in an online group is no substitute for real clinical consultation. If you include enough information to get great feedback- you may have just crossed the line. 

Posting Online Case Consults

The best way to use online groups is for general inquiries that do not include client identifying information. The litmus test I am most fond of is- if my client was reading this post- would they recognize him or herself in it? So post information that is extremely general! But wait... I really need REAL consultation! 

Best Use of Online Groups For Case Consultations

My favorite way to use online groups is to connect offline with therapists for private case consultations. Not finding the right fit for case consults in your area? Post online and create a group from therapists from around the country or around the world. New to your area and want to find an in person group? Use online groups to make introductions to people in your area in lieu of cold-calling strangers! It makes that first coffee meeting a LOT less scary! 

Consider an in-person consultation relationship

Whether it is individual or in a group, make time for regular, ongoing consultation. When we sat down with Irvin Yalom, MD to talk about his book Creatures of a Day- his two biggest pieces of advice were to get your own treatment, and get in a consultation group. Burnout and getting off track clinically and ethically often happens in isolation. You need a great group of people to support, encourage, and challenge you. And, that group of people needs you! 

Share in the comments below the impact consultation has had on you personally. If you aren't in a consultation group currently and are looking for one, feel free to post your information below! Let's connect awesome therapists together!