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What is an Unlicensed Psychotherapist?

The meaning of Unlicensed Psychotherapist in the state of Colorado, contrary to the meaning in most places, means that the therapist is permitted by the state to practice psychotherapy under this title.

There are various types of credentials in Colorado (CO hereinafter) to practice mental health services, including Unlicensed Psychotherapist. The various credentials are collectively called licenses for the state board’s administrative and communication purposes. A Colorado Unlicensed Psychotherapist is registered with and regulated by the state.

It can be confusing that the government often addresses us Unlicensed Psychotherapists as “licensees” internally and with the therapists, while publicly naming us as “Unlicensed” Psychotherapists. So, why so many different titles, when they are all mental health professionals?

One of the reasons is to distinguish the professional specialty and level of training. When it comes to Unlicensed Psychotherapists, it means that they did not take or pass the professional licensing exam, but they have passed CO’s verification of their identity, registered their professional contact information, confirmed their degrees earned, and provided their therapeutic orientations and years of experience. Additionally, they must pass a jurisprudence test on Colorado Mental Health Law and are screened for any prior disciplinary actions, arrests, or criminal convictions in any state.

CO has flip-flopped on the title: at first, Unlicensed Psychotherapist; and then, Registered Psychotherapist; and now again, Unlicensed Psychotherapist. Therefore, I am still playing catch-up to update my former information containing the term Registered Psychotherapist, and to update many documents to reflect CO’s new rules. While you, probably like most people, may be confused, many Unlicensed Psychotherapists, like me, are frustrated just as much.

Since CO is rather unique in the U.S. with this title of Unlicensed Psychotherapist, it is common that health insurance providers in the U.S. do not cover services provided by an Unlicensed Psychotherapist. On the other hand, you might find an Unlicensed Psychotherapist more affordable than many licensed therapists in CO.

As far as the client’s satisfaction and the effectiveness of the service/treatment, there is no guarantee which title holder may produce a better outcome. There are positive and negative reports from clients of all types of mental health professionals. The foundation of effective psychotherapy/counseling is your trusting relationship with your competent therapist.

Despite the “looser” requirements on an Unlicensed Psychotherapist, I hold a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology. I have gone through supervised practicum and internship as a counselor and a marriage and family therapist at mental health services agencies. I have been trained toward licensing (whether as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California, or a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado). Please refer to this page for my education and experience.

Unfortunately, my path to licensing was halted due to adverse life circumstance, and since unable to resume. This disruption has led me to deeply empathize with individuals whose lives have been turned upside down. I ceaselessly and voluntarily advance my professional competency through continuous education, self development, peer consultation, and professional mentorship. I have also developed further critical thinking to question certain status quo in conventional mental health field which may not be in the clients’ best interest.

Without the more limiting credential, I have found better liberation to do what I believe is right for my clients. You are warmly invited to experience my love, which accompanies your journey of transformation.

*Parts of the information on this web page is cited and edited from the website of Colorado Association of Psychotherapists.

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