As I've begun my traineeship (like an internship, but something that's done while I'm still in my master's program; my internship will begin after I graduate next year), I am officially a psychotherapist.
Not because "I feel like one." Not because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me. Nope.
Evidence Code 1010 in the California law books says that I am. In fact, if you're wondering who can call him- or her-self a psychotherapist, please visit the link.
Anyone can be called a "therapist"--that title isn't protected. You can be a chocolate therapist or humor therapist and just say "therapist" for short. However, if you or someone you know or met is in a mental health context and is calling him- or her-self a therapist (implying "psychotherapist") but isn't licensed, a psychiatrist, or an intern/trainee under supervision--we've got problems.
That's illegal and misleading. Just so's you know. They can be called counselors, mental health client specialists, etc. but not a psychotherapist.
Part of why I'm writing this is not only to celebrate (yea!) but also because from what I gather, the public is largely uninformed or misinformed about psychotherapy.
In the spirit of consumer education and protection, I shall humbly offer posts from time to time regarding the nature of psychotherapy and the laws and ethics that bind and define its practice, to the best of my ability.
Those out there in the know, please feel free to add, correct, adjust, and question!