NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tips on How to Check If a Therapist is Licensed

More and more people are seeking help in therapy.  Unfortunately, it can be a confusing process to try to determine if someone claiming to be a therapist is actually a qualified mental health professional (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

How to Check if a Therapist is Licensed

Tips on How to Check if a Therapist is Licensed:
It's important to check if a prospective therapist you're considering working with has a state license because working with someone who doesn't have a license means that you're working with someone who is unqualified.  

Not only is this a waste of your time and money, it can also be harmful to you. 

Just like you would want to make sure that a medical doctor is licensed, you also want to make sure that anyone who calls him or herself a therapist has a state license.

Here are some tips to check on state licensure:
  • Real Psychotherapists Have a State License
    • There are many people who claim they're therapists when they're really not, including life coaches, personal coaches and other people who work outside the scope of their expertise.  
    • Anyone can call themselves a therapist, but real psychotherapists have a state license.  
  • Why State Licensing Matters For Real Psychotherapists
    • Licensing is important because you want to make sure that the person you have chosen to help you with your problems is qualified.  
    • A licensed therapist has a verified skillset to help people with various mental health issues.  
    • A therapist obtains a license by satisfying various state and clinical requirements and have the necessary qualifications to treat you.
    • A licensed therapist have fulfilled the necessary supervised clinical hours and have demonstrated that they have the necessary skills to obtain a license.  
    • A licensed therapist has the proper training and experience to be a mental health professional.
  • In New York State: Check with the Office of Professions - NYSED Website
    • It's important to check that anyone who calls themselves a therapist is licensed.
    • When you put yourself in someone's hands to help you with your problems, you want to know that they have the minimum requirements to work with you and that minimum requirement is state licensure.
    • When you take it upon yourself to check a therapist's license, you're being a smart consumer of psychotherapy services.
    • You can look up if a particular therapist you're considering by name by visiting the website of the licensing organization in the state where the therapist works.  In New York State, you can click on this link, NYSED - Office of Professions, and look up the therapist you're considering by name. 

  • Why is it Harm to Work With Someone Who Doesn't Have a License?
    • Anyone who claims to be a therapist who doesn't have a license isn't a psychotherapist.
    • If someone says s/he is a therapist and isn't licensed, they don't have the necessary skills, training and experience to help you.
    • From a legal perspective, an unlicensed individual who attempts to practice therapy is committing fraud.
    • More importantly, from a clinical perspective, anyone who isn't licensed will be harmful to your mental health and overall well-being.
    • An unlicensed person who calls himself as therapist can leave you in a worse state than when you first started because s/he doesn't know what he's doing.
    • An unlicensed person who fraudulently says he is a therapist is someone who hasn't demonstrated the basic skills required to be a psychotherapist.

  • Is a State License Enough to Qualify a Therapist to Treat You?
    • Licensure is the minimum requirement for being a psychotherapist.  
    • After a psychotherapist obtains a license, s/he must go on to do continuing education to stay current with regard to best practices in the psychotherapy field.
      • For instance, if a therapist claims to have a particular expertise, like trauma therapy, s/he must have the necessary education and training beyond graduate school to develop the expertise to do trauma therapy.
Getting Help in Therapy
Beyond making sure that a therapist is licensed, finding a psychotherapist who is right for you is usually a process that begins with a consultation to see if the two of you are a good therapeutic match.

You might meet with a particular therapist a few times before you know if you're comfortable with him or her.  Ask questions about how the therapist works with the particular issue you want to work on.

There are many qualified psychotherapists in New York, but you're not going to feel comfortable with all of them, so trust your gut feeling.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapist are providing online therapy, which is also called teletherapy, telemental health or telehealth (see my article: The Advantages of Online Therapy When You Can't Meet With Your Therapist in Person).

If you're struggling with problems and feel overwhelmed, get help from a licensed psychotherapist who is right for you.  Getting the right help from a licensed mental health professional can help you to overcome your problems so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYS psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

I am currently providing online therapy while I'm out of my office due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.