Two days ago, we received a great comment that said, “This is *not* what I experienced when I saw a cognitive-behavioral therapist… I wish cognitive-behavioral therapy as described on this site was available. Too many CBT therapists are not well-trained and refuse to think!” (you can read Sam’s full comments about the kind of ‘CBT’ that he and his friend received on this post – his is the fourth comment down).

We thought it was important to highlight his experience because we think many consumers may not know about the vast differences in training and approach among people who call themselves Cognitive Therapists or Cognitive Behavior Therapists. If you look online, you might see links to any of the following:

Certified Cognitive-Behavior Therapist. ACT-Certified Cognitive Therapist. Nationally Certified Cognitive Behavior Therapist. Certified Cognitive Therapist.

Are all of these the same thing? Not at all. In the U.S., there’s no government agency or psychology board overseeing what kinds of certification processes are valid. Literally anyone can start a certification process in his or her backyard, ask you to fill out an application, along with a check, and dub you certified (as a Cognitive Therapist, a Behavior Therapist, a Music Therapist, whatever he or she wants to call the credential).

So what’s the key factor in determining if a ‘Certified Cognitive Therapist’ or a ‘Certified Cognitive Behavior Therapist’ is really qualified? It depends on the quality of the organization that did the certifying.

For Cognitive Therapists in specific, the only organization offering a thorough certification process for all mental health professionals, spearheaded by experts in the field, is the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. We find that it’s easiest to search for one of their Certified Cognitive Therapists by zip code. Dr. Aaron Beck, the founding father of Cognitive Therapy, is the Honorary President of this organization. Why is the Academy needed? Read about their History. What does the Academy do differently from other CT certifying organizations? Well, for one thing, in addition to reviewing candidates’ credentials, recommendations, training, etc. they review actual samples of therapy sessions. And the people who oversee the certification process are leading experts in Cognitive Therapy.

If you want to make sure that your therapist has been certified by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, go to their database, type in your therapist’s last name, and hit submit.