Health, Wellness & Biotech Workplace

Motivo Health Raises $14M To Tackle Therapist Shortage

Illustration of man with mental issues looking at smartphone.

When Rachel McCrickard was in the early stages of being 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 being 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 wouldn’t have to deal with the bottlenecks of becoming a licensed therapist.

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

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Motivo is addressing a therapist shortage in the mental health marketplace by making it easier for professionals to complete the requirements necessary to be licensed. After graduate school, counseling graduates need to work under a clinical supervisor for two to four years in order to talk about their client work. In those meetings, clinical supervisors often guide the budding therapists through roadblocks with their clients and help define goals of a client’s treatment.

The 4-year-old startup makes it possible for therapists to complete their supervision virtually, allowing therapists to forgo traveling potentially long hours to see their supervisor in person. This helps lower the barrier to entry to becoming a therapist, and accelerates the licensure process, bringing more therapists to market.

“At a time when our society needs quality mental health providers, it’s critical we leverage technology to remove unnecessary barriers in 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 assisted in over 2,500 therapists obtaining licensure.

Growing pains in teletherapy

Teletherapy exploded during the pandemic. For the first time, in 2020, startups in the space received more than $1 billion in venture investment, representing an over 500% increase from the year prior.

With that came a greater need for therapists, who must be licensed in the states where they practice. That domino effect has led to sweeping changes in the way therapists get licensed. Training needs to be more accessible to meet demand, especially in states with large rural populations.

The popularity of teletherapy also allowed therapists to pursue a license in multiple states, and startups like Florida-based BlocHealth have received funding to assist therapists in the licensure process in other states. In June, BlocHealth was acquired by telehealth platform SteadyMD.

The siloed and distributed nature of health care in the U.S. has often made it difficult for patients to receive comprehensive care, especially if they’re seeing multiple specialists, therapists and doctors. But the problem has long existed within the health care industry as well—hospitals are having trouble finding specialists, clinics are seeing nurse staffing shortages, and patients are experiencing long wait times to see a therapist.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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