Security management in telepsychology

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Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date



Psychologists increasingly rely upon “telepsychology” (e.g., e-mail and Internet-based client communications) despite the growing presence of threats to online security. However, practitioners may overestimate the benefits of electronic communications and underestimate their risks. Using the example of the availability heuristic as one cognitive bias, which may promote this imbalance, this article reviews a number of resources for practitioners that provide enhanced security and confidentiality in the digital realm. Governmental, regulatory and professional bodies provide pertinent and detailed guidance that can achieve these goals. To illustrate this process, this article reviews and augments a number of safeguards (administrative, physical, and technical) within the HIPAA Security Rule. It also surveys opportunities for continuing education and credentialing that may enhance professional competence in electronic communications. It concludes with a list of recommendations for enhancing security and reducing the influence of the availability heuristic in telepsychology. These recommendations range across several categories of professional practice: hardware and software management, confidentiality, informed consent, competence, consultation, and continuing education. This article can help practitioners reap the benefits of telepsychology while successfully enhancing confidentiality and security.


This article was originally published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Professional Psychology: Research and Practice


© 2011 American Psychological Association