Mental health has become top of mind for many people across the country over the past few years. However, the U.S. is experiencing a shortage of licensed therapists during a time when millions are seeking out these clinical resources. Levering modern telehealth technology, Atlanta-based Motivo Health wants to help aspiring therapists complete their licensing journey.
The company announced a $14 million Series A funding round on Thursday led by Cox Enterprises. SteelSky Ventures, a firm that recently moved to Atlanta, also participated in the round.
Motivo offers a marketplace that helps therapists achieve and maintain licensure by connecting them with clinical supervisors. Founded by a licensed therapist, the company aims to make the onerous licensing practice easier and more efficient.
For a therapist, completing clinical supervision is similar to how a doctor must complete a medical residency. Therapists have to first work under the license of a professional before they can acquire a license of their own. Additionally, the responsibility falls on the therapist to find a clinical supervisor and then pay them for hundreds of hours of supervision over the span of two to four years.
“I started Motivo to solve a problem that I experienced on my own road to licensure, which was lack of access to a clinical supervisor,” Rachel McCrickard, Motivo’s CEO, told Built In. “I’m from a rural area of North Georgia, and when I was working towards my license, the closest clinical supervisor was a two-hour drive away in Atlanta. So I was driving back and forth to get to my clinical supervisor each week and it was a long, arduous, expensive process.”
McCrickard’s experience took place before the pandemic when clinical supervision was required to take place in person. Now, thanks to the pandemic and the subsequent growth in telehealth, most states no longer have this requirement in place, and Motivo has been able to help over 2,500 therapists get their licenses.
On the platform, users can look for clinical supervisors across all 50 states and filter their search by state and license type. Part of its new capital will help the company build out new capabilities, such as a feature for continuing education for getting re-certified. Motivo’s network of clinicians will create content on subjects such as trauma-informed care, cultural humility and other areas. Additionally, the company is building out an offering for clinical staff augmentation and direct service delivery.
“We’re learning that there’s a need for clinical supervisors in the organizations that we serve but there’s also a need for vetted, licensed clinicians,” McCrickard said. “[Organizations] might have a waitlist of patients that can only be seen by a licensed provider. We have licensed providers … so we’re looking at ways to leverage their expertise to help out the organizations we serve.”
The company’s also been devoting attention to acquiring contracts with health organizations and establishing partnerships with graduate schools, initiatives it plans to continue with its new funding. Its latest round of funding brings its total capital raised to $16.3 million.
Currently with a team of 23 strong, Motivo is putting the rest of its capital toward hiring talent across sales and engineering. As it’s led by individuals with firsthand experience in the field, including McCrickard and Dr. Carla Smith, the company’s chief clinical officer, Motivo hopes to continue fueling growth within the mental health licensing industry.
“We’re clinician-led, so having two licensed people … in C-suite positions is a differentiator in the sense that we really know and understand this problem, and we can think about what’s best for the profession when we’re also thinking about revenue growth and investor return,” McCrickard said. “We want to make sure that those are always in alignment.”