Money, Credit and Electronic Payments in Clinical Practice

Legal-ethical issues around money in mental health practice are probably both the easiest to get right and the easiest to get wrong.

No one wants to prevent us from getting paid, whether it’s HIPAA or professional ethics committees. That’s the good news.

But they facilitate legal-ethical payment processes by carving out certain boundaries that we need to stay in. If we don’t know those specially carved-out boundaries, we can make legal-ethical errors in the ways we run our practices. If we do know them, running our practices within them can be quite easy.

These articles are meant to provide some guidance on staying in that legal-ethical space while helping you streamline your practice management procedures!

What Is This Again?

Person-Centered Tech has been publishing free articles on technology in mental health practice since 2012. The following is a curated series of those articles, painstakingly updated for the current moment and placed in an order to help you get the most benefit from them.

Along these lines, we also offer a continuing education course on Credit/Debit Cards and Electronic Payments in Mental Health Private Practice. If you would like CE credit for your study time, check out the course here.

The following articles are numbered according to our recommended reading order. Of course you may buck our system and read them however you wish.

Seem Like a Lot of Articles To Read At Once??

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The Articles

We love to report news that makes your life easier, and this article has quite a bit of it. It’s not all roses, of course, but most of us find the information in this next article quite liberating vis-a-vis responsibilities under HIPAA.

Electronic payments in private practice are wonderful, and we heartily encourage you to take advantage of them for client convenience and more efficient operation of your practice. One of the challenges of electronic payments, though, is that so much of what’s going on is invisible to you and your clients. As such, we see that there are a couple pieces that therapists should make sure clients know about before diving into the e-payment process. This article should help shed light on those issues.

2) Ethics of Disclosure to Clients Who Pay With Plastic or Online Transfers

Mobile payment apps like Square and online payment services like PayPal make it surpassingly easy for therapists in private practice — or even for small agencies — to accept credit card payments without much upfront investment. Do we need client consent to use these services, however? What kind of information is needed for informed consent? […]

For this next article, I surveyed around 60 therapists to get their opinions on both the ethical and business issues involved. In the end, however, the question is mostly answered by state law, federal law, and credit card company contracts.

A lot of private practice consultants advise therapists to get a card on file at intake. They advise this for very good reasons, but are often unaware of the varied regulatory concerns involved. Please at least read the following article before enacting such a policy.

RoyThis next one is a premium article. That means that unlike the vast majority of our articles, it is not available to the general public. There are two ways to access it: you can be a paid member of Person-Centered Tech Support (members can just click the link below and start reading now), or you can read them as part of our CE course on credit cards and electronic payments in private practice.

Not interested in the advanced discussion from this premium article? No problem. The free articles continue below this box.

Further Reading and Resources

We’ve produced a ton of articles on practice tech just for mental health professionals. Below are several that we think are worth reading your way through over time.


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