How To Check If A Therapist Is Licensed - Verifying A License Explained
Updated September 06, 2019
Reviewer Aaron Horn
You may be wondering if your therapist has the right license. You're right to be concerned about this. It's essential to make sure that you're receiving the proper care, and part of that is seeing a therapist who has the credentials to help people with mental health concerns.
Why Does It Matter If Your Therapist Has A License?
It matters that your therapist has a license because they need to have the varified skillset to help people with various mental health issues. When your therapist has a license, it means that they've satisfied different state and clinical requirements and have the qualifications to treat you. You want to work with a mental health provider who has fulfilled supervised clinical hours. That way you know that they've got the proper training from an experienced mental health professional. Your mental health matters, and ensuring that your therapist has a license is one of the first steps you're going to take in your treatment plan.
It's Smart To Check Your Therapist's Credentials
According to a survey conducted by The American Psychological Association, more and more people are seeking therapy each year. Many people have taken the step you're about to take, checking to see if their counselor or therapist has a license. It's a smart idea to ensure that the person who is treating your mental health has the credentials to do so. Think about it, would you see any medical doctor you found online? Probably not. You would search their reviews on various websites such as HealthGrades. That same reasoning that you apply to your physical health you can use to your mental health. It's essential to take care of your body and your mind so you can live a healthy and productive life.
When you check to see if your therapist is licensed, you're taking your mental health into your hands and requiring standards for your treatment. One way to stop the guesswork as to whether or not your therapist has a license is to work with an online therapist, like the ones at BetterHelp, who have already been pre-screened and have adequate mental health licenses.
BetterHelp Has A Variety Of Licensed Therapists
With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can rest assured that your online counselor has the appropriate license to practice therapy. BetterHelp wants to give you the best possible care, and that means hiring counselors and therapists who have up-to-date state certifications and licenses to practice mental health treatment. The counselors at BetterHelp are skilled at what they do and have the paperwork to back it up. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"Sarah is a kind person that listens intently, focuses on issues, and then helps find successful strategies to deal with those issues. Never once did I feel that she was judging me or talking down to me. She was easy for me to open up too, she was professional, and she took me seriously. Together we discussed issues of loss and grief from the passing of my father, which had become more than I could handle alone. She not only validated my feelings of loss, but she also helped me find ways to mitigate those feelings, break them down into their roots and causes then address those. Coping with grief and loss is hard work, but Sarah helped me find the tools I needed within myself to do that hard work and ultimately find success. I am a stronger person now. I am happy and confident. I may not know what is around the next corner, but I know that whatever it is, I can handle it."
"Dr. Torres is absolutely a delightful person and has helped me through anxieties at a difficult work situation. We had weekly video sessions. She was always friendly and supportive. She sometimes draw on her own experience which I found valuable to see my situation in different lenses. I felt safe opening up to her. Towards the end of two months I had a better perspective in life. If I need help in the future I would love to come back to Dr. Torres!"
How Do You Check If A Therapist is Licensed?
When you're seeing a therapist or counselor, whether that's online or in your local area, you want to make sure that they have a valid license to practice mental health services. But, how do you check to make sure that they're appropriately licensed to perform this job? One manner to verify if a therapist has a legitimate mental health license is to check a third party source that you trust. There are multiple sources where you can find this information. One of them is called the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards or ASPPB.
If you look on this site, you can search by state and see if your therapist is licensed in your location. To do that, though, you need to know what state they practice in first. To do this, you can go to a website such as Psychology Today, search their last name, and find their profile. On their profile, you'll find their licensure number and the state(s) that they're licensed to practice. It's a quick and easy way to find out whether they have a license to practice or not.
Directly Ask Your Therapist or Counselor for Their Licensure Information
Many therapists and counselors will display their license information in their office in a framed capacity so that you can see the license number. If you're working with an online therapist, you won't be able to see their licensing information framed in a physical office, but you can ask them for it via messenger or email. It doesn't have to be an awkward conversation. You might feel uncomfortable asking for their license information, but you can let them know that you want to pursue therapy with them but that you want to make sure that anyone you're about to see is a licensed professional. If they hold those credentials, there's no reason for them to get defensive or withhold that information. There are multiple websites where you can verify different forms of licenses, depending on what they are.
How to Become a Licensed Therapist
After you complete a graduate level education, to become a therapist, you've got to be licensed. Your license means that you meet a minimum amount of requirements necessary to provide therapeutic services. Remember that there are different therapeutic licenses for different things. You might have an MSW, Ph.D., LPC, or LMFT. Each license has different requirements, and those will depend on what you're looking to do in your career.
Therapist Educational Requirements
To practice therapy, you need to meet the education requirements for your particular state. There may be some educational classes that you have to take or some certifications you have to achieve, but each license demands its specific requirements. As a therapist, you need to make sure that you complete those requirements. It takes a lot of time and long-term dedication to become a mental health professional.
Therapist Clinical Hours
Therapists need to have completed a certain number of hours that are supervised. A supervisor needs to see a therapist or counselor working in a therapeutic setting. It could be an internship that you complete alongside your Master's degree, or it could be part of your licensing pursuance. Depending on the state, you'll know how many hours are required. For example, in Oregon, you need to complete 2,000 supervised hours, but to become licensed in a different state, that number may differ. There are fees associated with getting your license.
Different Acronyms for Different Mental Health Providers
There are different acronyms for different kinds of mental health professionals.
LCSW's or Licensed Clinical Social Workers help families affected by domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health issues, or day-to-day life issues. Many social workers are community-based and help with community issues for individuals.
Counselors Or Therapists
You might see the term LPC or LCPC, and that refers to a licensed professional counselor who spends time working as a counselor with people who might experience a variety of different mental health, life, or family issues.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.
Psychologists could be an LCP, PsyD, or a Ph.D. They work in clinical research or medical facilities.
Psychiatrists are different from psychologists because they're people who have Doctorate's and are also MD's so that they can prescribe medication. Depending on your needs, you'll make an appointment with one of those people, and you can verify their information through the means that we discussed such as searching on Psychology Today or by finding websites that relate directly to licensing issues.
Do You Want to Become A Therapist At BetterHelp?
If you are already a therapist and you want to join the over 4000 online therapists here at BetterHelp, let us know. If you want to help people with their mental health in a new and exciting way, online therapy is an excellent platform to support clients in getting the care that they need. You can choose to work full-time or part-time hours, whatever works best for you. We welcome caring mental health professionals who have a passion for helping others. You can apply here.
Final Words: Check the License and Get the Right Care
After reading this article, you know the importance of checking your therapist's license. There are many reasons to do it, but the number one reason is to ensure you're getting the best care possible. And remember, in addition to traditional face-to-face counseling, online therapy is an excellent option; on sites like BetterHelp, we've already verified the licensing of these therapists. We've taken the means to do so to ensure that you're provided with exceptional care. Whatever kind of mental health treatment you decide on, you deserve to have an excellent therapist helping you.