4 common legal mistakes and how to avoid them when setting up your online therapy practice

4 common legal mistakes and how to avoid them when setting up your online therapy practice

Are you ready to…?

…get out of a 50 hour work week 

…say “so long” to a 10 hours of commute time every week.


And start…

…practicing what you preach (you know, like self care).

…and savoring your life?


Like, really, are you?!

Then why haven’t you?!


Let me guess…

Because everytime you think about starting your own online practice your mind immediately jumps to all the legalities. That’s when your stomach drops and  you begin to breathe a little faster (in the hyperventilating way).

Your mind spins with:

  1. Am I allowed to practice outside of my state?
  2. What should I include in my consent paperwork?
  3. If my client goes into crisis and they’re in another state how do I care for them?
  4. Does liability insurance even cover telehealth?

These are real questions.

But the good news is there are real answers!

Answers from Amber Lyda, an online therapist who now helps therapist set up their own ethical and legal online practice.

Here’s how she introduced herself, I started my online practice to get out of 50 hour work weeks, 10 hour a week commutes, and into a live worth savoring. 

“Today, I work fewer hours, make more of an impact than ever before AND make more income.  

“Building a practice online has changed my life.

“Now I also teach other therapists how they can live a fuller life, while still getting to do the work they love.”

These are the answers she gave me to pass along to you…


Each state has different rules about providing and receiving online therapy. So the best answer we can give you here is: check your state guidelines and your board certification.  Do you want a short-cut…this is updated each year but recently they moved to an app. Here’s the most recent non-app version! 

You can also review this blog post for a more detailed considerations when providing telehealth between states.


In general, most states will require clear and detailed lists of the risks and benefits of the services you provide so that potential clients are fully aware of what working with you entails.

But once again, each state has their own guidelines for what should be included in consent paperwork, so we strongly recommend that you check with your state for specifics.

Would an Informed Consent Template be a “lifesaver”?!

Grab the one Amber Lyda personally uses and her students rave about HERE.


Good question!

The five steps Amber recommends are:

  1. Create detailed and specific policies and procedures for how you will handle a crisis situation so that you can respond effectively instead of react.
  2. Look up the inpatient crisis stabilization units in your client’s county and be sure to print out the involuntary hospitalization procedures for the area so you are prepared ahead of time.
  3. File the inpatient crisis stabilization unit’s address so that you know where to direct your client or their loved one should a crisis situation occur.
  4. When you’re getting all the paperwork signed, request 2 emergency contact numbers and a release of information allowing you to contact them for support as a pre-intervention to hospitalization or to facility hospitalization if necessary.
  5. Each state has detailed criteria for times when you are permitted or required to breach confidentiality.  Print those relevant to your client’s location to have handy.

Did a question just pop into your mind that’s not listed in this blog post?! Chances are Amber has answered it and you can find the answer on her podcast.


Each liability insurance is different. So be sure to review your own insurance.

However, most allow you to check a box that indicates you provide telehealth and are opting to be covered for that as well. In that case, make sure you check the box!


I want to share with you what Amber told me she most wanted someone in your shoes to know:

“Having your own online therapy practice is DOABLE.

The QUESTIONS you think are impossible, aren’t.

You can even make this far-fetched-hope of yours a reality WITHOUT a course.

COMMUNITY is actually what you need.

Find a group of people who are doing what you’re doing, 

so you don’t feel like you’re having to MAKE STUFF UP on your own.”

If that resonates with you and you’re ready to find a community, check out Amber’s.

If that resonates with you, but you’re ready for the community AND a course Amber has just the thing for you, too: 8 step-by-step weeks to set up your own ethical and legal online therapy practice.






October 23, 2019 / iTherapy Blog

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