This semester, students in Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel’s psychology courses will have a new opportunity in class to see how teletherapists deliver services in a virtual setting. Online counseling or teletherapy has recently grown in popularity during the coronavirus shutdown, and mental health providers, including Dr. Leonard-Zabel, are at the cutting-edge of the field.
Recently accredited as an International Board Certified Telepractice Specialist (BCTS), Dr. Leonard-Zabel is among an expert team of providers leading telepractice best practices and was recently featured in a new video series led by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
“COVID-19 is a wakeup call for mental health professionals to learn to provide alternative service deliveries when assisting patients on an ongoing basis. Teletherapy and telepractice assessment is a game-changer in the field,” she says. “I am excited to expose my students to telepractice this fall. I believe if I can expose our students to this new form of service delivery, they will be on the cutting edge of industry practice when they graduate.”
Dr. Leonard-Zabel will incorporate telepractice in the curriculum for several of her fall courses, including Psychological Testing, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Behavior Disorders in Children, and Drugs and Behavior, among others. The new coursework will provide an understanding of technology platforms, license/compliance regulations, assessments, ethical considerations, and more. In the future, Dr. Leonard-Zabel hopes to provide a direct pathway for students to earn a Telepractice Facilitator Certificate, which would allow them to assist a licensed mental health professional in the delivery of services online.
“I have always led my courses with a focus on preparation for the world of work, and many of my students earn national certificates in different areas of psychology and mental health,” she says. “I hope to provide them exposure and cutting-edge approaches in the field while also building their skill set and confidence to be successful in their chosen subspecialty in mental health.”
Following her BCTS certification, Dr. Leonard-Zabel was invited by the IBCCES to author three major international certification modules focusing on Autism, Telepractice, and the Hospitality and Attraction Industry venues: Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) (Applied Behavioral Analysis, Comorbidities Connected to Autism, and Autism Assessment Practices modules); BCTS Certification (Assessment and Ethical modules); and GUEST 2.0 Certification (Mental Health and Wellness in the hospitality and attraction industry).