Psychotherapists who are licensed by the state of Colorado have completed a professional training program, undergone a period of supervised experience, and passed a formal examination in a specific profession. Those who are accruing hours toward licensure may practice psychotherapy under the supervision of a licensed professional and others may practice as unlicensed psychotherapists. Therapists from all professional backgrounds may use a variety of techniques and have a variety of theoretical approaches. The nature of the professional degree or license does not determine the skill level, theoretical approach, or kinds of techniques a therapist might use. Below is a description of the different types of credentials a psychotherapist may have.
Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) – has completed a two-year master’s degree or four-year doctoral degree in the social sciences or its equivalent, become a certified addiction counselor (CAC) Level III, and passed either the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) examination or the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC) examination. Before becoming a licensed addiction counselor, there are three levels of certification, CAC I, II, and III. For level I, 1,000 hours of supervised addiction counseling work experience and required coursework must be completed, and a mail-in jurisprudence examination must be passed. For level II, 3,000 hours of supervised work experience and required coursework must be completed, the NAADAC Level II exam must be passed and a videotape submitted demonstrating clinical skills or two courses must be completed, Addiction Counseling Skills and Client Record Management. For level III, 5,000 hours of work experience and required coursework must be completed. The Director of the Division of Registrations regulates the Addiction Counselor Program.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – has completed a two-year master’s degree or a four-year doctoral degree in social work, two years of experience supervised by a licensed clinical social worker, and passed a social work examination that may be written, oral, or both, and a mail-in jurisprudence examination. Their training is based on social work theory and methods focusing on individual, family, group, organizational, and societal problems. They may perform social service functions other than psychotherapy. The license is regulated by the State Board of Social Work Examiners.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) – has completed a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or its equivalent with either a two-year master’s degree and two years post-degree supervised experience or a four-year doctoral degree and one year post-degree supervised experience. Post-degree experience must include at least 1,000 hours with couples and families. They then must pass a written marriage and family therapy examination and mail-in jurisprudence examination. While their training specializes in relationships, they are also qualified as individual therapists. The license is regulated by the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – has completed a graduate degree in professional counseling or its equivalent with either a two-year master’s degree and two years post-degree practice or a four-year doctoral degree and one year post-degree practice. Post-degree experience must be supervised by a board-approved supervisor. They then must pass a professional counseling examination and mail-in jurisprudence examination. Their training is based on counseling theory and includes vocational development. The license is regulated by the State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners.
Licensed Psychologist – has completed a four-year doctoral degree in psychology or its equivalent, at least one year of supervised postdoctoral experience practicing psychology, and passed a written psychology examination and mail-in jurisprudence examination. Psychologists may practice many different kinds of psychotherapy and are also trained to perform psychological testing. The license is regulated by the State Board of Psychologist Examiners.
Psychiatrist – has completed a four-year medical or osteopathic degree, one year of medical internship, three years of psychiatric residency, and passed a medical or osteopathic examination. Psychiatrists are licensed physicians specially trained in the biomedical aspects of emotional problems and mental illness and are authorized to prescribe medication. They may also practice psychotherapy. Some have additional certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The license is regulated by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners.
Unlicensed Psychotherapist – must be included in a data base with the State Grievance Board and must submit name, address, educational qualifications, disclosure statements, therapeutic orientation or methodology, or both, and years of experience in each specialty area.
To report consumer complaints, contact the following board:
For psychiatrists, contact the following board:
Department of Regulatory Agencies Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners
Colorado Mental Health Section 1560 Broadway, Suite 1300
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350 Denver, CO 80202
Denver, CO 80202 (303) 894-7598 June Nieto or
(303) 894-7766 (303) 894-7713 Lorraine Lucero