There are many types of therapists to choose from, and the choices can be confusing and overwhelming. Under Colorado State law, there are specific requirements for various therapists:
A Licensed Psychologist
A Licensed Psychologist must hold a doctorate degree in psychology from an approved program, have a minimum of one year of postdoctoral supervision, and pass a licensing exam. Typically most doctoral students are required to obtain various forms of clinical experience for every year of attendance, in addition to obtaining a full time internship, before graduation. By the time of licensure, most Licensed Psychologists have five years of clinical experience.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Counselors
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) must hold a masters degree in their profession from an approved program, pass their licensing exams, and have two years of post-masters supervision. Licensed Social Workers (LSW) have passed either the intermediate or advanced exam, but not the clinical exam. Typically, masters level students are required to have one year of internship for clinical experience before graduation. All licensed psychotherapists must take the Colorado jurisprudence exam.
A Psychologist Candidate, a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate, and a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate must hold the necessary degree and be in the process of completing the required supervision and/or testing for licensure.
Certified Addiction Counselor
A Certified Addiction Counselor I (CAC I) must be a high school graduate, and complete required training hours and 1000 hours of supervised experience. A CAC II must complete additional required training hours and 2,000 hours of supervised experience. A CAC III must have a bachelors degree in behavioral health, and complete additional required training hours and 2,000 hours of supervised experience. A Licensed Addiction Counselor must have a clinical master’s degree and meet the CAC III requirements.
A Registered Psychotherapist is registered with the State Board of Registered Psychotherapists, is not licensed or certified, and no degree, training or experience is required. A Masters in Social Work (MSW) has not taken or passed their required exam for licensure; nor has a Masters in Family Therapy (MFT) or a Masters in Psychology (MA). All therapists must be registered with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and are subject to state statues.
If you’re not yet overwhelmed, when summarizing the necessary credentials, a Licensed Psychologist will have the most pre-licensure experience. When choosing a psychologist, the personal relationship is the most important. Research shows that no matter what the theoretical orientation of the psychologist is, the personal relationship is what matters most. If you don’t like your current psychologist, try another to find a better fit.