Motivo Health raises $14 million to address therapist shortage

When Rachel McCrickard was in the early stages of becoming a therapist, she had to travel two hours to find the nearest clinical supervisor who would meet her requirements and bring her one step closer to becoming a licensed therapist.

In 2018, she founded Atlanta-based Motivo, a platform that matches therapists with clinical supervisors, in hopes that others in her position won’t have to deal with the bottlenecks of becoming a licensed therapist.

On Thursday, Motivo announced that it has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Cox Enterprises with additional participation from SteelSky Ventures and Great Oaks Venture Capital. That brings total funding for the startup to $16.2 million, according to Crunchbase data. Cox has been a Motivo investor since 2019, when she led the company’s $2.2 million seed round.

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Motivo addresses a shortage of therapists in the mental health market by making it easier for professionals to complete the necessary requirements to obtain a license. After graduate school, counseling graduates must work under a clinical supervisor for two to four years in order to talk about their clients’ work. In these meetings, clinical supervisors often guide budding therapists through obstacles with their clients and help define the client’s treatment goals.

The 4-year-old startup enables therapists to complete their supervision virtually, allowing therapists to forego what can be hours-long trips to see their supervisor in person. This helps lower the barrier to entry to becoming a therapist and speeds up the licensing process, bringing more therapists into the market.

“At a time when our society needs quality mental health providers, it is important that we leverage technology to remove unnecessary barriers to the licensure process,” McCrickard said in a statement.

The company will use the funding to grow its engineering and sales teams and says it has helped more than 2,500 therapists become licensed.

Growing pains in teletherapy

Teletherapy exploded during the pandemic. For the first time in 2020, startups in the space received over $1 billion in venture capital investment, representing an increase of over 500% over the previous year.

With this came a greater need for therapists, who must be licensed in the states where they practice. This domino effect has led to sweeping changes in the way therapists are licensed. Training must be made more affordable to meet demand, especially in states with large rural populations.

The popularity of teletherapy has also allowed therapists to pursue licensure in many states, and startups like Florida-based BlocHealth have received funding to help therapists with the licensing process in other states. In June, BlocHealth was acquired by telehealth platform SteadyMD.

The siled and fragmented nature of health care in the US has often made it difficult for patients to receive comprehensive care, especially if they see multiple specialists, therapists, and doctors. But the problem has long existed in the health care industry as well—hospitals are struggling to find specialists, clinics are seeing nursing staff shortages, and patients are facing long wait times to see a therapist.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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