Update From William James College President Nicholas Covino, March 31, 8:00 PM:
Dear William James Community,
Our COVID Task Force now meets three mornings each week to monitor the news and the needs around us. A few weeks ago, we moved quickly from 1 Wells Ave to operating online and remotely. Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become the new normal for faculty and staff who are managing degree audits, commencement plans, admissions, summer registration and community engagement, while continuing to educate and support their students.
Students, too, have adapted their approach to managing coursework and practical training while finding new ways to stay connected but physically apart. This afternoon, as several parents brought their young teens to practice driving on our nearly empty campus, half a dozen WJC students circled their cars (each at 6 feet apart) to hold an impromptu meeting in the back lot. It’s not quite the same as gathering on the couches on the third floor, but it is this spring’s new normal.
As we continue to navigate this health crisis, an important topic at top of mind for many continues to be Telementalhealth. Tonight, I’m writing with a couple updates on that topic.
Telementalhealth and Psychology Licensure
Concerns about Coronavirus have prompted many field sites to move students to deliver behavioral healthcare electronically. While this modality has been around for some time, relatively few practitioners made frequent use of it before this crisis. Insurance reimbursement and Licensing Boards have, also, lagged in providing payment for services and clarity around supervisory hours. This venue is proving to be an accessible new normal, but there has been ambiguity about whether Telementalhealth training hours can count towards licensure.
Last week, I wrote to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to urge the Board of Registration of Psychology to provide decisive language that licensed psychologists may provide services through electronic means. The letter asked the Board to immediately revise the “face-to-face” requirement for supervision and to clarify that supervised hours though Telementalhealth will qualify for licensure hours. Boards of Registration in other states have allowed for these changes and Massachusetts needs to do the same. Today, I was told that these issues will be on the Board of Registration’s agenda at this week’s meeting. A copy of the letter is attached to this update and I will let you know the outcome.
Training and Resources
William James Faculty members have curated articles and educational materials on Telementalhealth and published them on the William James College Resource Hub, and are creating additional coursework to help professionals to practice competently in this new environment. These materials and trainings are designed to improve practical skills and to clearly communicate to field sites that WJC trainees can work competently with Telementalhealth. These resources are being made available to our community colleagues, as well. Additionally, the College will soon be offering formal coursework on online treatment. More information about these efforts will be available and shared in the coming weeks.
There will be a lot learned from this work and our experiences during this time. Keep your eyes on the prize, and your eyes on each other, as we move through another week.
With admiration and respect,