Occasionally I am asked questions like:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist?
  • What is the difference between psychotherapy and coaching?
  • Why did you choose to not pursue licensure as a psychologist?

Consequently, I want to take a minute to make it SUPER DUPER clear everything you need to know about my psychology education, training, and licensure status – and about my coaching practice – such that there is zero confusion.

On My Education, Training, Licensure Status, and Coaching Practice

  • I DO have a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Utah State University.  I obtained this degree in 2007.
  • I DO have a Ph.D. in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Utah State University.  I obtained this degree in 2015.
  • I DID complete 100% of the coursework, research, and clinical requirements for both a Master’s and Ph.D. in psychology.
  • As all Ph.D. students do, I DID work/train for six years under the license of various psychologists at Utah State University – doing both individual and group psychotherapy. In that sense I practiced psychotherapy for 6 years (always under supervision).
  • I DID obtain over 4,000 supervised clinical hours of psychotherapy – which is the requirement to become a licensed psychologist in the state of Utah.
  • I DID compete my full psychology internship at an approved APA (American Psychological Association) approved internship site.
  • I successfully defended both my Master’s Thesis (a treatment for scrupulosity or religious OCD) and Ph.D. Dissertation (a comprehensive study of the LGBTQ Mormon experience) on the way to my psychology degree.
  • I have published 14+ scholarly studies, journal articles, and book chapters on research that I have been involved in within the field of psychology. Most of my research has focused on anxiety disorders (scrupulosity/OCD, trichotillomania) and on the LGBTQ/Mormon experience.
  • I therefore DO have 100% of the coursework, research, and training that any licensed psychologist in Utah has.
  • I DO have a steady coaching practice focused on supporting people through Mormon faith crises. I love this work, feel that I am super good at it, and that I have helped hundreds of individuals, couples, and families over the past 5+ years.

It is also super important for everyone to know that:

  • I have intentionally never taken the EPPP – which is the licensure exam that must be taken to become a licensed psychologist in Utah.  Think of the EPPP as an equivalent to the bar exam that lawyers must take to practice law in any given state.
  • This means that I AM NOT A LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST at present.
  • I may choose to take the EPPP at some point, but for now there is no reason/benefit for me to do so.
  • I must also state very emphatically that…
    • I have never claimed to be a licensed psychologist,
    • I have never had the desire to ever give anyone the impression that I am a licensed psychologist, ever and
    • I have never attempted to practice psychotherapy without a license.  This is illegal and unethical.
  • For those who are curious, I have not taken the EPPP because I DO NOT PRACTICE PSYCHOTHERAPY IN MY COACHING PRACTICE.  In my coaching practice I coach.  See here for a detailed description of the differences between psychotherapy and coaching.  Every client that I see in my coaching practice is referred to this document, to ensure that they understand the difference between coaching and psychotherapy.
  • While I am fully trained to practice psychotherapy, and am quite good at it (according to my trainees) — I operate under a coaching model for my coaching practice – mostly because I feel as though this model is the most appropriate model for most of the people who come to me needing support for their Mormon faith crisis.
  • Whenever someone comes to me who I suspect would meet criteria for an official DSM disorder/diagnosis, I EAGERLY refer them to a licensed therapist to obtain therapy.  I DO NOT PRACTICE PSYCHOTHERAPY IN MY COACHING PRACTICE.
  • Pretty much ALL of the licensed therapists in Utah who deal with faith crises clients operate primarily under a coaching model for many (if not most) of their faith crises clientele.  Examples include Natasha Helfer Parker, Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Jenny Morrow, etc.  To repeat, YOU DO NOT NEED A THERAPIST LICENSE TO SUPPORT PEOPLE THROUGH A MORMON FAITH CRISIS (though I firmly believe that my formal psychology training makes me a much more effective coach).

It is possible that occasionally I have in the past (or may in the future) accidentally refer(red) to myself as a psychologist.  To be clear, this is NEVER because I am trying to give anyone the impression that I am licensed as a psychologist, or that I currently practice psychotherapy.

If I ever accidentally and erroneously refer to myself as a psychologist, it is only because I have received 100% of the education, training, degrees, and research experience that any licensed psychologist receives (which is all true), and in my mind and heart I continue to think of myself as a trained psychologist.

I hope this clarifies any confusion out there.

Please feel free to share this with anyone who has concerns, and to email me with any questions.

P.S.  This document is a work in progress…so I reserve the right to correct, update, or refine it over time.


  1. DAVID J DEHLIN July 11, 2020 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Nice job, John!

  2. Randy Brown July 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    We have never even met, John, but your work has been extremely beneficial to me. Mormon Stories is my sanctuary and, as far as I can tell, necessary for my continued mental health. Thank you for your work.

  3. Steve July 11, 2020 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Ironically it is the LDS Church that on many levels has practiced psychology without a license. When “prophets, seers and revelators” advocate conversion therapy for gays (see official Church pamphlets by Spencer Kimball and Boyd Packer) they are practicing psychology without a license on a massive scale. When BYU under the direction of its Board of Trustees (including the First Presidency) executes coerced electric shock conversion therapy without appropriate informed consent they are committing assault and battery under Utah law. When LDS bishops shame and blame victims of rape, or tell them to simply forgive while perpetrators go free, they are practicing psychology without a license. The Church holds itself accountable to nobody for these egregiously harmful practices.

    I am a licensed physician and surgeon in Utah. My entire practice revolves around keeping patients safe both in the operating room and in the clinic. My approach to my job recognizes my accountability to my patients and to the public. If I give a patient false information that causes harm, I can be sued. In some instances I could lose my license. Words like “malpractice” and “gross negligence” underscore the level of responsibility and accountability that I carry with me every day to work. If I err I can be subject to civil litigation, criminal prosecution, and professional discipline through DOPL (Dept of Occupational and Professional Licensing). If I were ever to give information that caused great harm, or do a procedure without proper informed consent, I could be shut down so fast I wouldn’t know what hit me. This is the standard that the public expects from health care professionals, but somehow religion gets a pass. Why shouldn’t a prophet of God abide by the same standards of care that I have to respect every working day?

    Again, the irony of this post is that the LDS Church acknowledges no accountability to its members or the public for the harm that has been done to countless people by its practicing psychology without a license. Thank you John for your transparency. By the way you are doing a superb job of helping and informing us who, through no fault of our own, are being called apostates simply because we see the truth that many refuse to look at.

  4. Robert M Hodge July 16, 2020 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Well, I don’t know what prompted this, but there will be those who want to discredit you. You are just to darned effective with your Podcast. My advice is to get the your certification to end any disingenuous attacks on your credibility. I say this even though the information on this site comes largely from individuals other than yourself.

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