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Licensure for behavioral health

Behavioral health professionals are subject to state licensure regulations, including for telehealth.

Illustration of three health care providers each looking down at electronic devices.

Overview of behavioral health licensure

Telehealth has played a major role in meeting the need for behavioral health services, including for those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and opioid use disorder.

There are various ways a health care provider may provide services, including via telehealth, across state lines. There may be variations in state requirements related to:

  • Definitions of telehealth and types of telehealth services
  • Requirements for in-person visits
  • Online prescribing of medications

Tip: Check with your national association to find licensure guidelines.

State licensure requirements for behavioral health professionals

A range of providers deliver behavioral health care, including through telehealth. This care may be provided by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, therapists, and nurses. There are different state licensing boards based on the profession.

Health professionals must meet the licensure requirements of the state where they are located and be licensed or legally permitted to practice in the state where the patient is located. Before providing telebehavioral health services, providers should check:

Licensure and online prescribing

Authorized providers may be able to prescribe via telehealth if they meet certain criteria. Providers must comply with federal law, state laws where they are licensed, and state laws where the patient is located. In most cases, a patient-provider relationship must be established in order to write a prescription.

Emergency situations

All providers should establish and maintain an emergency plan. The emergency plan is especially essential for out-of-state providers practicing telehealth. Each patient situation should be evaluated on an individual basis.

More information: