Telehealth is a virtual, outpatient behavioral health clinic that utilizes videoconferencing technology to provide evidence-based care. As a teaching clinic within the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Telehealth provides field education placements for students enrolled in the Master of Social Work program. Since launching in 2012, the clinic has served over 2,000 clients and provided nearly 20,000 sessions.
Telehealth’s providers include approximately 30 California licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and MSW Interns. Interns are organized into treatment teams led by a clinical supervisor/faculty member. All clinical supervisors, California LCSWs with an average of 13+ years of post-graduate experience, hold faculty appointments within the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
In collaboration with field education faculty, Telehealth provides a teaching clinic for MSW students that mirrors training for medical students in teaching hospitals. Prior to placement, MSW Interns complete rigorous coursework, including a semester-long Virtual Field Practicum focused on skills development and practice of Motivational Interviewing, Problem Solving Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Once placed, they complete a 6-week, 100-hour curriculum (designed and facilitated by Telehealth clinical faculty) that consists of online training modules, live training sessions, role-plays, and observations. Only when approved by their assigned clinical supervisor do interns meet with clients independently.
Aligned with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s commitment to evidence-based practice, the clinic incorporates empirically supported interventions into each client’s treatment plan, most often Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or related interventions such as Motivational Interviewing, Problem Solving Therapy, Seeking Safety, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, among others.
Clinical Supervision and Emergency Response
Telehealth maintains extensive clinical oversight for all staff, including its MSW Interns, with a videoconferencing platform that facilitates supervision functionalities that mimic a two-way mirror. All providers are trained to identify crisis resources available in the client’s location prior to the first appointment. Furthermore, they are trained to consult with their assigned supervisor in any clinical situation indicating a mandated report, including abuse or neglect of a child, elder, or dependent adult or risk of the client’s harm to him or herself or another person. Clinical supervisors may enter a virtual session, observe, and provide consultation via a private chat feature or directly intervene in cases of client emergency.
Since 2012, USC Telehealth has executed and refined best practices for tele-mental health service delivery including engagement, assessment, treatment planning, intervention, and termination. Tenure-line faculty’s publication of their tele-mental health intervention research will disseminate our findings of best practices with specific populations while clinical faculty’s conference presentations disseminate best practices for teaching and supervision.
To learn more about field education at Telehealth, please contact your field placement advisor.