This article provides guidance for Minnesota therapists who would like to provide remote therapy to clients in other states.
The Covid-19 pandemic has produced an increased demand for therapy while making it unsafe to conduct therapy in-person. These contrary realities have led to a real-life experiment regarding the effectiveness of therapy over the internet.
On the whole, this experiment has had positive results, with the general consensus now being that (if not the perfect forum) therapists can help their clients remotely. With remote therapy as a viable option, the natural restrictions of geography are gone. The Minnesota therapist can provide therapy to a client in Florida as easily and effectively as they can to a client in Minneapolis if both are remote.
Many therapists see this change as an opportunity to expand their practice. However, practicing therapy in a state where one is unlicensed is not permitted. So, what state is the therapist practicing in if the therapist is sitting in their Minneapolis office conducting therapy online with a client in another state? Both places, it turns out. You will need to get authority from both states. Fortunately, that might not be so hard to do.
Every state has its own board that governs their practice of therapy. Each board requires a therapist to be authorized to practice in their state. Importantly, the core purpose of these boards is to protect the people of their own state, not to open opportunities for Minnesota therapists to expand their practice. Therefore, do not assume you can provide therapy to a client in another state based on your Minnesota license. The better course, which we recommend, is to obtain the authorization of the state in which the client is located. To be clear — do not rely on your Minnesota license to treat a patient in another state.
There is good news. Because of the increased need, many states have made it easier for a therapist to obtain authorization to treat clients remotely in their state. Each state has developed its own process for granting such authorization.
In many states, temporary authorization to provide remote therapy is available. This generally requires a review of the therapist’s personal background and professional record. Assuming the therapist has a clean record and background, the process can be fairly straightforward. The therapist (or their lawyer) should contact the appropriate authority in the target state and follow their process.
Of course, some authorizations come more quickly than others, but many states are motivated by the increased need to process such applications quickly. Other states have processes that are more complicated or will not authorize temporary practice at all. But in states that have a need for additional therapists, authorization is obtainable.
A therapist who wants to remotely treat a client in another state must obtain authority to practice in the state where the client is located. Therefore, you should obtain authorization from the board that governs that state. Fortunately, in the current environment, this authorization is often available to those who seek it.