How To Find The Right Therapist in Denver (and Online)
How To Find a Therapist In Denver
Find the *Right* Denver Therapist or Online Therapist For You
Choosing a Denver therapist or an online therapist is a big decision. Getting the support of the right therapist, at the right time, can mean the difference between continuing to spin your wheels… or moving forward into the life you want. There are so many great Denver therapists and online therapists out there all claiming to be “the best therapist” — but how do you choose the one that’s right for you?
A simple Google search of “Denver therapists” or “online therapists” or (heaven help you) “therapists near me” will quickly overwhelm you with options; so many therapists, all with smiling faces and assurances that you'll get the help you're looking for. How do you even start to sort through the profiles, the alphabet soup of credentials, and find the ideal person to be your confidant, your mentor, and your guide towards happiness?
4 Keys To Finding The Right Therapist in Denver
1) The Right Therapist Needs To Have The Right Training
When it comes to finding the right therapist, education and training matters. This is especially true in Colorado, where there is little oversight or regulation of therapists. While many therapists are competent, educated, and helpful, a “Registered Psychotherapist” in Colorado doesn't even need a high school diploma.
You heard me right. Colorado is one of the few states in the nation who will allow anyone (anyone!) to “register” and then practice psychotherapy. With no training or education. At all.
So that's tip #1: One key to finding a great therapist in Denver is to find… an actual therapist with education, and credentials. If you see “registered psychotherapist” anywhere in their bio or on their site, move on.
Tip 1: Make sure that the therapist you work with has, at least, a Master's Degree in Counseling, or Clinical Psychology and is either licensed or a candidate for licensure in Colorado. (Or your state of residence, if you're looking for a good online therapist).
2) The Right Therapist Needs To Be Genuinely Effective & Helpful
Once we get past the extremely significant fact that there are many “registered psychotherapists” in Colorado who do not have the education or training to practice therapy at all, there are also a great many therapists in Denver who do not practice evidence-based forms of therapy that have been shown by research to be helpful for resolving issues. Interesting perhaps, (Jungian dream-analysis, anyone?) but not particularly effective.
There are many approaches to “therapy,” all at the discretion of the therapist. Much of it is, in my opinion, extremely wishy-washy and ineffective.
While it's not a guarantee that your therapist practices effective, evidence-based techniques that have been proven by research to be helpful, having a formal education in counseling or psychology is a starting point to determine if a prospective therapist is legit.
But step two is asking questions about what KIND of therapy they practice. Look for evidence based forms of therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, or other approaches that have been shown by research to be genuinely helpful for the thing you are looking for help with.
It is totally okay, when you're meeting with a prospective Denver therapist for a first consultation session (which they should offer, btw) to ask, “How would your approach to therapy help me resolve this issue?” Or, “What, specifically, would we do together in therapy that would help me make improvements in this area?”
If they cannot provide you with a coherent answer that makes sense to you (well beyond general statements about, “processing” or “working through things”) they might not know how to help you.
Many, many therapy clients of Growing Self arrive at our doorstep feeling deeply frustrated by past experiences in therapy, and with good reason: Talking about or “processing” problems is not enough. Gaining insight is not enough. Having a relationship with a therapist is not enough. All those things are great, but unless they're combined with an action-oriented approach, they don't actually move you forward.
Unfortunately, insight alone is the outcome of a lot of traditional talk therapy. You talk about problems, process feelings, gain insight, have a supportive relationship with your therapist…. but nothing actually changes. You ask for strategies, and get, “Hmm, I don't know, what do you think you should do?”
Signs that your prospective Denver therapist may be passive and sphinx-like are if they use words like, “non directive” or “person-centered” or practice “Humanistic therapy” or “psychoanalysis” to describe the way they work. There is a good chance that talking to them is going to feel a lot like talking to yourself. Only much more expensive.
I believe you deserve better than that. If you are getting involved in therapy because you want to make real and lasting change in your life here's my advice:
Tip 2: Make sure your prospective therapist utilizes evidence-based, active approaches to therapy that are focused on outcomes, and is able to articulate a clear path for you to make positive changes.
But wait, there's more: As you are looking for the right therapist in Denver, be aware of is there is no regulation of the type of therapy that a therapist provides. Many therapists are educated, ethical and helpful people who use strategies that can be very helpful to you. However, because of the lack of regulation, Colorado is very much the “wild west” in terms of therapists— particularly in private practice.
A person marketing themselves as a “psychotherapist” in Colorado could use effective, evidence based techniques that are proven by research to help you… or could steer you towards “spiritual counseling,” “energy healing,” “dream interpretations,” or even “past life regression therapy.” Really.
I am, among other things, the hiring manager here at Growing Self and we routinely have therapists apply with us who come from non-accredited counseling programs, who specialize in “yoga therapy” (which is not actually a thing), or shamanism, or being psychic mediums who invoke spirits on your behalf, or practice Reiki, or think it's super-cool to have their clients draw Tarot cards or engage in other metaphysical practices. If you're into that, it could be very meaningful for you and that's great.
But for people seeking help for real issues, like depression, anxiety, needing to improve their relationships, or navigate complex life transitions, these practices are often simply a waste of time. At worst, they can be destructive.
Therapists in Denver can have all kinds of deeply held spiritual belief systems… and try to push them on you as a part of your “therapy.” I have personally met a psychiatrist (an MD!) that advocates exorcisms, and therapists who believe that the source of their clients problems is unresolved trauma from a past life. And many more therapists that simply practice a form of counseling that is not particularly effective — allowing their clients to simply talk “until they find their own answers.”
If you desire to get involved with an alternative form of therapy, you have lots of choices in Denver, and may find a therapist who is a great fit for you. However, do make sure that you understand what kind of therapy a potential therapist practices, and how it can be helpful given the specifics of your situation and your therapy goals.
If you want direct, effective therapy that will help you solve problems, think and feel differently, and get results, look for a therapist that practices “Evidence Based Therapy.” Evidence-based therapeutic strategies are the ones that have been demonstrated, through scientific research, to get results.
Tip 2a: If you're looking for a good therapist in Denver, do a little snooping. Poke around on their website, or see if they have other websites in addition to their therapy-specific website. I know for a fact, of a number of LICENSED THERAPISTS in Denver who have “therapy” websites and then also “I'm a shaman and psychic medium” websites.
Again, if you're into that, Godspeed. But I believe you should know what you're getting involved with. So, snoop!
3) The Right Therapist Specializes in What YOU Need
There are a variety of different licensures and credentials that therapists can have — each signifying a different specialty. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different kinds of credentials you might encounter when you're finding a therapist in Denver, or an online therapist:
Psychologist : A psychologist is a mental health professional that has a doctorate in either Counseling Psychology or Clinical Psychology. Many psychologists have completed Master’s degrees prior to their doctorate. A psychologist with a “PsyD” is a “Doctor of Psychology” and generally learned counseling skills as well as psychological testing and assessment. A psychologist with a “PhD” is a “Doctor of Philosophy” and, in addition to learning counseling skills and psychological testing, generally has a background in psychological research.
A Licensed Psychologist will have an “LP” as a credential. To become a licensed psychologist you must, after successfully completing a doctoral program in counseling or psychology, practice for at least one year under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, pass a national exam, and be approved by a state licensing board.
Psychologists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. They have the most training and education of all the different kinds of therapists. Psychologists are different from psychotherapists or counselors in that they are trained in psychological testing and assessment, program development, and supervision of other therapists in addition to being able to provide effective therapy.
A psychologist is the person to see if you’re not sure whether you have Anxiety, ADHD or Bipolar Disorder. They can give you a battery of tests, including intelligence tests, personality tests, and tests of emotional functionality. These assessments can help you get clarity into the true nature of “the problem” much more quickly and effectively than is possible with standard therapy. However, most Denver psychologists do also provide therapist services and generally have backgrounds in evidence-based methods of helping people recover from conditions like Anxiety, Depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and more.
Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) that specializes in the medical treatment of psychological disorders. This is the person you’d see to get a prescription for medication to treat things like ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, or Bipolar Disorder.
Most psychiatrists do not provide behavioral healthcare (counseling / psychotherapy), but will work closely with the Denver psychologist or counselor that you see for therapist services.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): A licensed marriage and family therapist is a Doctoral or Master’s level therapist who has extensive education, training and experience specifically in couples and family therapy, as well as individual therapy. In contrast to all other breeds of therapists, who learn that the problems people face are generally as a result of their own disorder or dysfunction, Marriage and Family Therapists are trained to understand people both as individuals and as part of a larger system.
This systemic perspective is unique to couples and family therapists, and helps them to view a person’s condition as a reaction to their environment, and their relationships — as well as internal factors. In this way, Marriage and Family Therapists are able to help people heal their marriages or primary partnerships, resolve patterns that may stem from experiences in the family of origin, improve communication, and achieve healthy boundaries / expectations with friends, family members and co-workers.
Working with a marriage and family therapist can help you improve your self, help you understand how you impact others, and help you get your needs met by web of relationships in your life.
A licensed marriage and family therapist will have an “LMFT” after their name. This means that, in addition to completing a master's degree or doctorate that emphasized coursework specific to marriage and family therapy, the clinician has clocked at least 1500 hours with clients under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist, and had 50-100 hours of one on one supervision sessions, passed a national exam in marriage and family therapy, and been approved by the state licensing board.
Word to the wise: No other type of therapist besides an MFT has specialized training and experience in couples and family therapy.
Often, LPCs, LCSWs, and Licensed Psychologists offer couples counseling, but don't have the same level of training, understanding and expertise that and LMFT brings to relationship repair. Here's more about “How to Find a Good Marriage Counselor” if you're interested.
Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) or Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC): A licensed addictions counselor or internationally certified alcohol and drug counselor is a Doctoral or Master’s level therapist who has highly specialized education and experience in helping people overcome addictions. To become a LAC a therapist must first pass through all the levels of “Certified Addictions Counselor” (CAC I, CAC II, and CAC III). LAC's are also often licensed as professional counselors or psychologists.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): A licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a mental health professional that has completed a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology or Clinical Psychology. They are commonly called “counselors,” “therapists” or “psychotherapists.” They may or may not have had much formal education in the diagnosis or treatment of mental illness. Therapists are often called upon to be a supportive partner for personal growth, and provide a safe place to work through difficult life experiences. Depending on their interests and experience, there is a Denver therapist for all kinds of specialties: Grief and Loss, Divorce, Personal Growth, and more.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker: A licensed clinical social worker has completed a Master’s Degree in social work. This kind of degree offers some training around basic counseling skills, but primarily focuses on how to help people get connected with resources. For example, social workers often work in schools, hospitals or nursing homes, and facilitate students / patients / seniors in getting connected with various government or social programs (Medicaid, Medicare, HUD, Boys and Girls Club, etc.) that can help support their health and wellness.
Life Coach: This surprises many people to learn, but similarly to a registered psychotherapist, a Life Coach in Denver doesn’t need to have any training or experience at all to hang a shingle and start working as a Life Coach. Life Coaches are not qualified to provide therapy or counseling (and are actually in violation of ethical guidelines to do so). Registered psychotherapists do not have any additional qualifications or training, but because they have registered with the Colorado department of regulatory agencies (DORA) they are allowed to practice psychotherapy. (For some reason).
Some Life Coaches have completed Life Coach training programs but these programs vary widely in their quality. Some are weekend seminars in Life Coaching, some are offered online, and some are more comprehensive. But literally anyone can read a book (or not), call themselves a Life Coach, build a website, and start seeing Life Coaching clients that day. Buyers beware.
If you're on the market for a good coach, make sure that they either have a background as professionally trained counselors, or that at least they have attended a respected coach training program and earned a credential such as “Board Certified Coach,” or “Certified Coach.”
Tip 3: Make sure that your therapist has the type of education, training and experience that make them qualified to help YOU.
4) The Right Denver Therapist Needs the Right Personality
You can pick out a Denver therapist based on their education, qualifications, or therapeutic orientation, but the truth is that therapy will not be effective for you if you don’t feel a good connection with your therapist. There is a great deal of research exploring the factors that lead to successful outcomes in counseling or therapy. While the kind of therapy that your counselor practices is important, and should be an evidence-based therapeutic orientation, what is at least as important is that you feel that you are working with someone you have a good relationship with.
That’s why it’s so important to shop around for the right therapist, and not sign up for therapy unless you can have a free consultation with the prospective therapist first. In addition to asking the therapist you meet with about their qualifications, asking yourself questions like: “How do I feel with this person?” “Is this person hearing me and understanding me accurately?” and “Do I feel confident in their ability to help me?” is even more important.
And the “right” personality is purely a matter of taste. Someone who you may feel is too direct (or too vague) for you may be just the right fit for someone else. A professional Denver therapist will understand that concept, and be able to provide you with referrals to other practitioners. It's a good idea to schedule a free consultation with a prospective therapist in order to get to know them, and see if there is “therapy chemistry” before you commit to moving forward with them.
I, personally, have met Denver therapists and online therapists who are smart, educated, knowledgable, probably extremely competent… but I just didn't feel a click with them.
Connecting with the right therapist is potentially a long term relationship. In addition to getting real help, you should also genuinely like your therapist… and feel like they like and respect you, too. If they make you feel bad, or feel like you're being judged, or if they want to slap a bunch of diagnostic labels on you that don't fit for you, they are probably not the right therapist.
Tip 4: Take your therapist for a “test drive” before you commit. Ask for a free consultation. If you don't like them, keep looking.
So there are a few tips to help you find the right therapist in Denver — I hope they help!
Wishing you all the best,
Meet a Few of Our Personal Growth Experts
The therapists and life coaches of Growing Self have specialized education and training and years of experience in helping people achieve their personal and professional goals. We use only evidence based strategies that have been proven by research to help you get clarity and direction, have better relationships, feel happier, and design your ideal life.
Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT, BCC
"Hi, I'm Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. For over a decade, I've been helping people all over the world create Love, Happiness and Success in their lives through positive, compassionate and effective Marriage Counseling, Therapy and Life Coaching. I'm so pleased to be able to help you, too. There is help for you here, and I'm glad you've found us.
This website is devoted to your wellbeing, and offers loads of free information and actionable advice that you can start using today to create positive change in your life. Browse around to meet our experts, get free advice on our blog, listen to a podcast, or take our "How Healthy is Your Relationship" quiz. Or, if the time is right, you can schedule a free consultation with any of us to talk about your situation -- and, most importantly -- your hopes for your future." -- Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Anastacia S, M.A., LPC, MFTC
“Hi, I’m Anastacia. I'm a Couples Counselor, Colorado-Licensed Therapist, and Life Coach with years of experience in helping people heal and grow. My approach is holistic, and helps you connect your mind, body and spirit. My compassionate, non-judgmental way of being will help you feel understood, and safe enough to talk about the most vulnerable things.
Whether you're struggling with hard feelings, coping with a breakup, or facing a big life transition, I can help you move confidently and authentically forward into a joyful and satisfying new future. I'm available to meet with you in our Denver Colorado office and our Denver Tech Center office, as well as through online video."
Silas H, M.S., MFTC
"I'm Silas, a therapist, life coach and couples counselor with Growing Self. I've had my therapy and coaching clients share that my down-to-earth style and sense of humor help them feel comfortable, and like they can talk about anything with me.
If we work together, I'll help you understand yourself more deeply so that you can heal, grow, and make positive changes. I'm available to meet with you for therapy in Broomfield, Colorado and for online life coaching."
Megan B, M.A., LPCC
"Hello there! My name is Megan, and I'm a Denver therapist and career coach. (I provide online therapy and online life and career coaching too). I’ve been told by past clients that I have a warm, understanding, and empathetic presence.
I can provide you with the safe space required to reflect, process, and overcome the inner obstacles that may currently be holding you back. I specialize in helping you identify problems and implement solutions. Our work together will be collaborative and nonjudgmental, and all about helping you cultivate your inner strength, and ideal life."