Ban the misuse of "therapist" titles & terminology in fringe professions in California.

Ban the misuse of "therapist" titles & terminology in fringe professions in California.

July 25, 2023
Signatures: 317Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by REMEDY Coalition


​​There has been a significant increase in fringe professions labeling themselves as "therapists" and misleading consumers. Most, if not all educational therapists, music therapists, equine therapists, movement therapists, and sound therapists are utilizing "therapist" titles and terminology without the training and/or qualifications deemed necessary by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and/or relevant governing agencies for licensing and/or credentialing.


In this context, it is of paramount importance to act now for several reasons:

  • Public Health and Safety: The primary concern should be public health and safety. When individuals who are untrained or unqualified offer services under the umbrella of "therapy," there's a risk of ineffective treatment or even harm to clients.
  • Identify Misuse: A licensed professional may incorporate movement, art, and/or music into their therapeutic treatment planning. In this role, they are a licensed "therapist" who utilizes these practices as their treatment modality. This is legally very different than a musician misleading consumers by using the professional title of a "music therapist." 
  • Informed Decision Making: Ensuring that the term "therapist" can only be used by those appropriately qualified will enable consumers to make informed decisions about their care. This is particularly important in a context where the proliferation of fringe professions is increasing.
  • Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: The unchecked misuse of "therapist" titles is undermining the integrity of licensed professionals and eroding the trust placed in them by the public. Prompt action can halt this detrimental trend.
  • Regulatory Control: The increase in unqualified therapists in these fringe professions makes it more challenging for regulatory bodies to ensure that those practicing have the requisite skills, education, and training. Implementing clear and enforceable standards is now more critical than ever.
  • Prevention of Legal Issues: The potential for legal disputes and malpractice suits increases with the rise of unregulated and unqualified practitioners. Actively addressing this issue can prevent unnecessary strain on the legal system.
  • Public Trust: Immediate action can help restore and uphold public trust in the field of therapy, ensuring that those seeking help can do so with the confidence that they are in the hands of a trained, licensed professional.
  • Negligence: When individuals misuse the title "therapist" and associated terminology such as "clinical", "therapeutic", "therapy", etc., it can have wide-ranging impacts on several stakeholders. This includes clients, the wider public, the healthcare and education sectors, and the professionals themselves.
  • Clients: These individuals are often the most directly affected. They may mistakenly believe that the person they are seeing is a licensed and qualified professional. They may not receive the proper level of care they need, which can exacerbate their health issues. Furthermore, the use of these terms by unqualified individuals can also result in misuse or misinterpretation of therapeutic techniques, leading to harm.
  • Wider Public: The misuse of "therapist" titles and terminology can cause public confusion about what qualifications are needed to provide therapeutic services, leading to a degradation of trust in the professional healthcare community. This confusion can also make it more difficult for people to make informed decisions about their healthcare and education.
  • Healthcare Sector: The misuse of these terms can dilute the credibility of the healthcare sector. The situation creates an environment where unregulated practices can flourish, potentially overshadowing the work of legitimate therapists. This impacts the reputation and integrity of the healthcare system.
  • Professionals: Those who have earned the title "therapist" after rigorous education, training, and licensing processes might find their reputation and professional standing affected by those misusing the title. These professionals invest significant time, effort, and financial resources into their education and training. The misuse of the title undermines these efforts and can lead to a devaluation of the profession.
  • Regulatory Bodies: The misuse of titles makes it harder for regulatory bodies to maintain professional standards and protect the public. They have to spend more resources on identifying and addressing misrepresentation, rather than focusing on improving professional practice.
  • Legal System: It can place an additional burden on the legal system, as cases related to malpractice or misrepresentation by unqualified individuals may increase without having the jurisdiction to properly prosecute.

The bill that is being drafted proposes to ban the misuse of "therapist" titles and associated terminology can mitigate these issues by providing clear and enforceable standards. This helps maintain professional integrity, protects consumers, and reinforces public confidence in the therapeutic and education professions.

If the bill does not get passed, several important issues are at stake:

  • Continuation of Unethical Practices: The misuse of titles like "therapist" can continue unabated, leading to more people falling prey to unqualified or inadequately trained professionals.
  • Risk to Client Wellbeing: Without appropriate regulatory oversight, clients could be subjected to ineffective treatments, or even harmful practices, leading to worsening of their mental or physical health.
  • Erosion of Public Trust: As more instances of misuse and misrepresentation come to light, public trust in legitimate therapeutic professions could erode further, making individuals hesitant to seek necessary help.
  • Devaluation of Legitimate Professionals: Professionals who have dedicated time, resources, and effort to acquire their qualifications might feel their professional value is undermined.
  • Increased Legal Disputes: The legal system may see a rise in malpractice suits or disputes around professional misconduct, straining resources.

If the bill is passed and things change, the following can be expected:

  • Enhanced Client Protection: With the law clearly defining the use of titles like "therapist", clients will be better protected against unqualified practitioners. They would be more likely to receive care from individuals who have undergone rigorous training and meet professional standards.
  • Increased Public Trust: By eliminating the misuse of professional titles, public trust in therapeutic professions could increase. The clarification provided by the bill can help people make more informed decisions about their healthcare and education.
  • Professional Validation: The bill would validate the training and qualifications of legitimate therapists, enhancing the value and recognition of their profession.
  • Streamlined Legal Proceedings: With clear guidelines on title usage, it could reduce the number of legal disputes related to professional misconduct or malpractice.
  • Regulatory Efficiency: The regulatory bodies would be able to enforce the law more effectively, ensuring that only those meeting the professional standards are practicing, thus improving the overall standard of healthcare. Fringe professions that continue to misuse the "therapist" title and terminology will efficiently be prosecuted.

In conclusion, whether the bill is passed or not can significantly influence the landscape of therapeutic and education professions, with far-reaching implications for clients, professionals (Licensed: Clinical Psychologists, Educational Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Professional Clinical Counselors, Social Works, Occupational Therapists, and/or Credentialed: Educational Specialist Teachers, School Counselors, School Psychologists, etc.), and the healthcare and education systems as a whole.

If we do not act now, the growing misuse of the term "therapist" could lead to a host of issues, ranging from harm to clients to a loss of public trust in the healthcare and education systems. By protecting the earned and qualified use of the title "therapist" and related terminology, we can protect individuals seeking help, uphold the credibility of the healthcare and education sectors, and ensure the practice of therapy maintains the highest professional standards.

We send our deepest gratitude to those who help us to support and spread the word of this crucial cause!


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Signatures: 317Next Goal: 500
Support now