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What Are the Key Skills for Telehealth Social Work Jobs?

Demonstrating Ability to Excel in Telemental Healthcare

While some of the skills needed to be successful in telehealth social work jobs are common with in-person practice, there are many other skills that will help you stand out in telehealth roles – a rapid-growth area of the telehealth market.

Indeed, research suggests that telemental health services will be a seamless part of mental health treatment. In an article published in Social Work Today, Allan Barsky, JD, MSW, PhD, a professor at the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University, says, “One day, we may wonder why we questioned whether social workers could effectively provide mental health services at a distance.

The question is, what skills do you need to be successful and happy in a career in telemental health? Here is what an analysis of job descriptions tells us.

Excellent communication skills

When you see your patients in-person, both you and your patient have the advantage of nonverbal communication. You don’t have this benefit when consulting virtually.

Your patients may become highly disengaged and unnerved if you appear to be paying little attention to them. If your patient has a cognitive impairment or is highly anxious, communication will be hindered further. So, it is crucial that you are easily able to:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Explain to the patients what you’re doing (i.e. writing notes/checking records)
  • Be engaging with the patient
  • Speak clearly, and in language they understand
  • Make them feel at ease if they’re struggling to communicate themselves
  • Explain to them clearly what will happen next – give instructions and clarify their understanding

Preparedness prior to a consultation will certainly help you so that you’re clear on your patient’s background so far. Be present throughout the consultation. A miscommunication could have disastrous effects.


You’ll need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, as you won’t have the immediate presence of colleagues to help you. Self-awareness will help you to come across more positively to your patient, helping you to communicate more effectively.

Time Management and Organizational Skills

You’ll be managing your diary and your consultations more actively. Doing so effectively will help you gain more benefit when working at home – better able to handle emergencies and prioritize your daily duties, tasks, and responsibilities. You’ll need to access notes easily, juggle your caseload efficiently, and take care of day-to-day business.

Good Screen-Side Etiquette

You’re an excellent social worker. You engage perfectly with your patients, and deliver meaningful assessments that help patients create solutions. But when you’re visiting virtually, technology can get in the way. You must ensure you are:

  • Putting patients at ease with using technology – be patient with those who aren’t familiar with technology. Some have been forced to operate this way, which can cause stress from the off. So, go slowly, assist them, and express your understanding.
  • Remaining patient-centric – don’t let the physical distance affect how you treat your patients. You must maintain that connection and treat them as the humans they are.
  • Continue monitoring quality control and patient satisfaction – this doesn’t go away just because you’re working from home. You’re offering a service that you must be continually improving and developing.

Basic IT Skills

Your work is now conducted digitally. Therefore, it’s essential that you can demonstrate some basic IT skills. This includes understanding the technology you will be using, how to contact and liaise with support and helpdesks, and how to store and access confidential information.

Summing Up

The key takeaway here is that you’re able to combine your clinical expertise with telehealth. Exceptional communication skills are imperative to weave all the other attributes together to become an excellent telehealth social worker.

Do you have what it takes? Get in touch with Telehealth Gigs and review the thousands of telemedicine jobs available today.