General Question

raum's avatar

How do you verify that a teletherapist isn’t using someone else’s licensing information?

Asked by raum (7265points) May 7th, 2019 from iPhone

If a therapist conducts therapy over video conferencing, how do you verify their licensing?

Doesn’t take insurance.
Only private pay.

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25 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

You check with the State where they are doing business. And you can ask, any licensed therapist will tell you willingly, as it protects the profession.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Video teleconferencing medical appointments- – - insurance does not cover yet.!

raum's avatar

@zenvelo The name and license number checks out. But how do you know that the person you are talking to is that actual person?

@Tropical_Willie Interesting! Good to know.

raum's avatar

I can’t tell if my niece got an actual ESA letter or a fake one.

We’re in SF Bay Area. CA license checks out. But says they are in Nevada. Area code for phone number is Alaska. And address on letterhead is in Los Angeles.

canidmajor's avatar

Some professional groups have directories with pictures, maybe check out that possibility?

raum's avatar

@canidmajor Looked. Didn’t find anything. :/

Zaku's avatar

Probably the same way I verify the official credentials of in-person therapists: I don’t.

I verify the quality of healers by how useful they are to my healing.

raum's avatar

@Zaku There are legal ramifications for using a fake ESA letter.

Also, issues of malpractice.

janbb's avatar

@raum Those discrepancies are suspicious.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

My PCP has a a bill clearing house for his insurance bills that has a Maryland landline phone number and their physical address is Virginia (close to Washington DC) but the PO Box is in another city. Oh I live in North Carolina.

janbb's avatar

Have you Googled them? They must have an online presence.

Zaku's avatar

@raum Implications for them to worry about, but I don’t. I don’t generally make it my business to verify other people’s paperwork.

raum's avatar

@janbb That’s what I was thinking. But after reading @Tropical_Willie ‘s comment, maybe this is the norm?

Googled and got a LinkedIn account. That’s easy enough to make up too. No business website. Address linked to license looks like a residence.

@Tropical_Willie That makes me feel slightly less sketch about this. Thanks!

@Zaku You and I are very different. I like to verify almost everything. Ha.

Darth_Algar's avatar

When you see a therapist in person how do you verify that person isn’t using someone else’s credentials?

raum's avatar

@Darth_Algar Well, I’ve only seen therapists that are part of established medical groups and/or in network for insurance. Both of which I assume have thoroughly looked through their licensing and security checks.

And also their licensing, business address and phone numbers tend to be from the same area.

The number was a forwarding service with no clear recording of the business name.

To be fair, I’ve been a victim of identity theft, so I’m extra wary.

raum's avatar

@Zaku To further clarify, there is a no pet clause on her rental agreement. I co-signed for her. If this ESA letter isn’t legit, I’m on the line for it.

raum's avatar

Also, this is not her regular therapist. I know because I’ve been trying to get her to find a therapist for months.

She said that she spoke to this therapist over the phone a few times and then they wrote her an ESA letter.

This sounds like a Craigslist scam to me.

Darth_Algar's avatar

So how did you come across this therapist?

Zaku's avatar

@raum Clarify? I’m now confused how we got from remote therapist license checks, to co-signing someone’s rental agreement that lacks a pet clause… and what’s an ESA?

raum's avatar

@Darth_Algar I’m not sure how my niece found her.

@Zaku An ESA letter is a letter from licensed therapist that verifies that you need an Emotional Support Animal.

I co-signed for my niece. There is a clause that says “no pets”. Under disability law, the ESA letter would trump the no pet clause. But if it’s a fake letter, I could be on the line for my niece violating the lease.

ESA letters usually have certain criteria. Like date of issuance, date of expiration and ESA registration number. None of which were included on her letter.

Also, fraudulent ESA letters are a big business. My niece may not think it’s a big deal to buy an ESA letter from a less than legit place. But I’m also not okay with supporting a business that hurts disabled people.

Zaku's avatar

@raum Oh! That sure clears up a lot for me!

And, in that circumstance, I see why even I would care that the therapist were certified legally!

I would try phoning the therapist up and talking to them about the issue. If they won’t do that, then I think it would be clear (combined with the other clues you’ve mentioned) that they don’t have a license.

Anticipating that potential outcome, I might even frame the question to see if they can be helpful for the next step. For instance, (this might be not worth the effort but) I might start by telling the remote therapist that you have an issue because you co-sign one of their patient’s leases with the pet issue etc and that your lawyer advises you that you need certain elements on the ESA, and see if they might not provide a non-ESA letter of recommendation/explanation that could be used with a local licensed therapist to get a valid ESA for that purpose.

janbb's avatar

I think I would look for a local therapist. This one does sound dicey.

Darth_Algar's avatar


The reason I asked is because my wife sees a remote therapist via video. She was set up with this therapist through our local hospital’s mental health office.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Zaku “I would try phoning the therapist up and talking to them about the issue. If they won’t do that, then I think it would be clear (combined with the other clues you’ve mentioned) that they don’t have a license.”

That’s a bad assumption to leap at. You won’t find many doctors (in any field) who take personal phone calls from their patients (let alone from a patient’s relatives).

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