To minimize the spread of COVID-19, many employers are continuing to allow their staff to telework, and many schools have shifted to remote learning. Some people are using the flexibility that remote work and schooling allow to relocate temporarily. Some college students who went away for college are also returning home to complete their coursework online. As a result, psychologists are encountering situations where they are asked to provide telehealth to patients who may be living temporarily in another state.
But can psychologists legally provide virtual services regardless of where their patients may be? It depends on each state’s licensing law and whether the state has made exceptions for services provided during the pandemic.
Health-care care provider licensing is strictly state-based, so your psychology license only allows you to practice psychology in the state or territory that issued your license. When a patient comes into your office, you can provide psychological services even if the patient lives elsewhere. But if you provide telehealth services to a patient living in a state where you aren’t licensed to practice, you could be considered practicing without a license. This is also true if you provide in-person services in a state where you aren’t licensed or practice telehealth from a location where you aren’t licensed.
If you or your patient are planning to relocate temporarily, here are some factors to consider when practicing across state lines: