Technology launched by an entrepreneurial mental health provider in Chattanooga is making it easier for therapists to become licensed and for people in need to access their services.
"More and more people want access to providers," says Rachel McCrickard, who founded mental health app Motivo in 2017. "They want easy and accessible care that lines up with their lifestyle."
But Motivo doesn't deliver counseling — instead, it helps mental health professionals become licensed to practice in their states, creating more counselors available to those in need. According to data from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 55 percent of U.S. counties have no practicing mental health professionals.
"As a country, our response to the shortage of mental health professionals is [virtual counseling], but rural areas are resource poor. They don't have access to reliable internet, so that doesn't really solve the problem," McCrickard says. "Motivo will actually help get more providers into these areas. Boots on the ground so to speak."
Therapists must complete two years of supervised care after they receive their degree in order to become licensed to practice on their own. This process can cause problems for some, including Motivo founder McCrickard.
When she was a recent college graduate looking to receive her own therapist license, she found it difficult to connect with her supervisors. Living in North Georgia, she had to drive two hours to Atlanta every week to consult with her supervisor, because that was the closest one in her area. Many therapists face this same struggle, making it harder to obtain their license — and fewer licensed therapists means less availability to help those in need of mental health care.
McCrickard wanted to fix this discrepancy. With the help of Chattanooga's Co.Lab Accelerator's program, McCrickard was able to become an entrepreneur and launch the first tele-supervision app on the market to help fellow counselors.
Using secure video chat, therapists who need to complete their two years of supervised care can connect virtually with a supervisor without the need for a physical face-to-face interaction, saving them time and money spent traveling. Supervisors, who get paid for their role in assisting up-and-coming counselors, can put their bios on Motivo's app so future therapists can elect them as their chosen supervisor.
"[Many therapists] don't have easy access for supervision once they get to that point in their career," McCrickard says. "We are hoping to create an easier path to licensure so [therapists] can move forward in their roles."
Since their start up in 2017, Motivo has moved their headquarters to Atlanta and raised over $2.2 million in seed money from investors. McCrickard and the Motivo team plans on continuing to grow the business, hire more team members and sign partnerships with universities and therapists associations.