How to find a legitimate and qualified mental health professional

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would have regulated life coaching in Utah has hit a wall, and that has experts concerned for families seeking help.

Ruby Franke’s estranged husband, Kevin, called on lawmakers to take action on life coaches before more families like his are harmed.

Senator David Hinkins read a letter from Kevin Franke letter at a committee hearing on Monday.

Franke wrote, “I apologize that I could not be present to address you in person because I am instead supporting one of my children who is recovering from being brutalized at the hands of my former wife, Ruby, and the professionally licensed therapist, Jodi Hildebrandt.”

Franke claims that Hildebrandt’s life coaching scheme destroyed his family.

“The one challenge I have seen more and more is there’s a variety of coaching and different disciplines that are coming forward,” said Dave Eldredge with the Huntsman Mental Health Institutes.

Franke wrote that these coaches often call themselves a “Coach,” “Guide,” “Mentor,” “Trainer,” or “Guru.”

Eldredge said official titles are important.

“Licensed clinical social workers, LCSW, CMHCS, your clinical mental health counselors are another good route, LMFTS, licensed marriage and family therapists,” Eldredge said.

Franke points out that life coaches are not accountable to any professional community or board.

It’s a question Eldredge said people seeking therapy should be asking.

“Do they have a legitimate, active license and are there, are citations or problems with their standing and licensure,” Eldridge added.

He recommends people go to their primary care provider for help finding a legitimate mental health professional.

“They can initiate medications, they can also initiate vetted referrals,” Eldredge said.

Utah’s division of professional licensing has an online e-verify tool.

Eldredge said, “Anytime a license has been suspended or revoked, I would certainly want to look at that and have more information about that.”

Eldredge said someone must be licensed to formally diagnose a person.

“It is really important to have the proper education and licensure to perform that function because there’s a lot of harm that can be caused,” he said.

Franke wrote that his wife paid Hildebrandt $10,000 to be trained as a certified mental health fitness trainer.

Eldredge said, “There’s a lot, of course, that people can take ultimately to build skills, but again, that’s very different from psychotherapy.”

The licensed clinical social worker says people seeking help are vulnerable.

He doesn’t want unqualified people taking advantage of them.

“Trust what you’re feeling and vet some of these questions,” he recommended.

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