Last update: 2:36pm Thursday, March 26, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has received many questions from anxious licensees and students. We are sharing the answers we have at this time and will provide updates and information as the situation evolves.
- Office Functionality
- Mail & Submitting Materials
- Quarterly Supervision Reports
- Essential Business: Should I See Clients In-Person?
- North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services Guidance
- License Renewal
- National MFT Exam
- Board Meetings
First, please note that Board staff will be working remotely. While this may impact speed of internet and delivery of mail and processing times, the expectation is that Board functions will be minimally impacted.
However, if you do experience a delay in receiving a response from Board staff during this fluid and unprecedented situation, your understanding and patience will be appreciated, keeping in mind that the Board and staff have responsibility for the safety of their health and family as well.
Due to an influx in calls from all over the country regarding telehealth, the Board is encouraging you to first review information available on the Board’s website, and then if you have additional questions, contact the Board office via email, using our new contact form system.
Mail & Submitting Materials
As the Board physical office is closed at this time, no mail should be sent after March 25, 2020.
The new website will allow us to move more applications and forms online over the coming weeks and months to help expedite the submission process and to give you confirmation of receipt of materials.
Quarterly Supervision Reports
LMFTA supervisors should send quarterly supervision reports (or updated supervision agreements), via email attachments. The Board will only accept these reports and agreements if the come directly from the supervisor’s email. Supervisors should copy the LMFTA on the email.
Essential Business: Should I See Clients In-Person?
This is a question being asked by many mental health professionals across disciplines. The Board is not able to give legal advice or interpretation on matters of this nature. The answer to this question depends on many circumstances.
Those who work in agencies, schools, hospitals, nonprofits, and other locations should consult their supervisors for guidance.
Those who are students should consults their faculty members, clinical supervisors, and site supervisors for guidance.
Those who are in private practice should make their decision based on using the best information they have available. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
- AAMFT Code of Ethics
- Guidance from your liability/malpractice insurance provider
- Guidance from your landlord
- Information shared by any insurance panels you participate in as a provider
- Decisions made by other clinicians in private practice
- Changes and waivers granted for telemedicine at the state and local level
- Details listed in stay-in-place orders that may be issued for your location (many list what services are specified as essential for that location)
- Information shared by the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (see next section for more info and direct links)
- Updates from your local state representatives and senators (many are updating their constituents on Facebook as the details change)
- Information shared by the Centers for Disease Control about the virus
You are encouraged to find copies of official orders and directives signed by government officials to read their specifications. Be aware of any differences that may occur between directives for the town where you live and the town where you practice, or any travel restrictions for your clients in traveling to your office. You can find these statements of emergency and proclamation orders on the official state, county, city, and town websites.
NC Department of Health & Human Services Guidance
The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services is sharing information about the number of cases in the state, and guidance for schools, healthcare providers (including behavioral health care providers), long-term facilities, child care, travel, individuals, and more on their main Coronavirus page.
If you click on the icon that says, “Providers,” you’ll find information for healthcare and behavioral health care providers, you will find additional information., such as their PDF aimed at helping healthcare providers prepare their workplaces.
Please be aware that since this is a new virus, scientists, doctors, and nurses are discovering more about it each day. Some of the recommendations have changed as new facts become available. One example of this is the published research on how long the virus lives on certain surfaces, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March , 2020.
You are encouraged to check back for updates often, both on the NCDHHS page, and on the CDC page, as these new recommendations could have an impact on how you are practicing.
In response to telehealth, Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 116, Declaration of a State of Emergency to Coordinate Response and Protective Actions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19, allows for a temporary waiver of any licensed health care provider or behavioral health care personnel to provide services within the Emergency Area.
The Board always advises for any delivery of therapy services to be in compliance with the Ethics Code and other laws (see notice below about temporary HIPAA violation waiver*). Some insurance companies, agencies, and work places have their own policies in regards to whether or not they allow teletherapy. Many have made adjustments, even if temporary, to allow for clinicians to serve their clients while following the recommendations and mandates from local, state, and federal authorities during the state of emergency period.
Due to the increase in telehealth services across the nation, many professional groups are offering free workshops to help mental health providers learn how to implement teletherapy in their practices. They teach both the technology needed and how to deliver techniques.
|Teletherapy Across State Lines|
|NC Governor Roy Cooper, has ordered a State of Emergency for NC and Executive Order #116, issued March 10, 2020 temporarily waives NC licensure requirements for health care and behavioral health care personnel who are licensed in another state, territory, or the District of Columbia to provide health care services within the Emergency Area. This effectively means anyone licensed in another state who has client(s) in NC may provide services in NC without being a current NC licensee. RECOMMENDATION: If a North Carolina licensee renders marriage and family therapy services electronically to an out-of-state client, it is recommended that the licensee contact the marriage and family therapy licensing board in the state in which the patient/client resides to determine whether or not such practice or a similar provision exists in that state or jurisdiction.|
*On March 17, 2020, the President announced that the administration and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) are expanding Medicare coverage at the Federal level for telehealth visits, along with waiving potential HIPAA violations for good faith use of teletherapy during this crisis.
University Students & Telehealth
Students enrolled in university programs, who are completing practicums, should consult with their university and supervisors for guidance.
The university has jurisdiction and responsibility for enrolled students and for setting the parameters for their programs.
In response to the many people asking how they will complete their continuing education (CEs) required for this year’s renewal or if there is an extension for renewing:
- All CEs may be completed on-line, including the ethics requirement. The course must be structured (meaning a course with a test component) and as always, the content must be MFT or related to the practice of MFT.
- In accordance with current statutes and rules, the Board is implementing a two-month extension (until September 1). While you are encouraged to renew by July 1 if possible, this will allow those who had planned to attend ‘live’ courses the opportunity to sign up for on-line courses. There is no need to contact the Board to request the extension as it will be automatically granted.
National MFT Exam
For those scheduled or planning to register for an exam with the exam service, please see this link for more information from the AMFTRB.
Applicants for the exam and licensure, please be aware that processing time of your application may be impacted.
The Board meeting scheduled for April will be virtual with a compressed agenda. Only essential matters will be addressed, specifically, application reviews/decisions and ethical complaints.
The NC MFT Board will continue to do our best to meet the needs of our applicants and licensees.Thank you for your patience, and please stay healthy.