Therapists looking for professional development may find many benefits from continuing education. This might include career opportunities, certificate renewal, new specialized knowledge, or receiving updates on current best practices and standards. An approved education provider gives therapists the opportunity to earn recognized CE credits while honing their skills.
According to the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), there are over 69,000 counselors seeking NBCC credit to keep their certification—a qualification that may allow licensure renewal in most states.
While many well-established organizations offer continuing education for therapists and counselors, it can be important to ensure that the courses you take count toward your certification requirements and fulfill the necessary guidelines. For instance, an organization may have NBCC approval, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all its courses would give you NBCC-approved credits. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most distinguished places to get continuing education as a therapist and how these endeavors can improve your practice.
The Benefits Of Continuing Education
Among the many benefits of acquiring further education and training in your field are the following considerations:
- Certificate and licensure renewal
- Career advancement and more job opportunities
- Specialized knowledge and training
- Updates on current best practices and standards
- Networking with other professionals
- Adding new experiences and perspectives to your practice
- Being able to treat a wider range of client concerns
Ways To Earn Continuing Education Credit
There are many ways to earn CE credits. The NBCC is the organization responsible for approving professional education for certified counselors.
To receive approval, continuing education credits must be verified through documentation in the form of transcripts, a grade report, or a verification form for courses that don’t provide a certificate of completion. As long as CEs are associated with an approved content area, acceptable ways to get continuing education credits include the following:
- Graduate-level college and university courses. A dissertation also applies to this requirement.
- Courses in seminars, workshops, or conferences. While the courses should meet NBCC guidelines, NBCC ACEP approval isn’t necessarily required. Documentation like letters that verify attendance in place of a certificate.
- Home study, such as online courses. While they don’t have to be NBCC ACEP-approved, they should meet the NBCC guidelines for continuing education.
- Publication in “articles in refereed journals, a chapter in an edited book or a published book”
- Formal consultation/supervision of others with a clinical focus
- Leadership position for at least one year within the current cycle of certification
- Volunteering hours from a national, state, or humanitarian organization with a mission that fits within an approved content area
- An activity or program that “provides direct service to clients” but does not fall within the NBCC’s nine content areas. Such programs are individually considered.
Choosing The Best Place For Continuing Education
When evaluating the options available for obtaining CE credits, choosing the right organization or program can depend on several factors, such as:
- The format that suits your availability
- Adherence to state-specific requirements
- Your specific goals for taking that particular course, seminar, or other modality
- The topic and its relevance to your professional development and/or interests
- The credentials of the program and instructor
- Your present commitments
Providers Of Continuing Education
There are many well-established organizations that provide continuing education for therapists and counselors. When looking to get recognized CE credit, however, it can be crucial to ensure the course fulfills the necessary guidelines. While an organization may have NBCC approval, it’s possible that not all of its courses count toward NBCC-approved credits.
The following is a list of recognized organizations that provide continuing education:
- The American Psychological Association (APA) offers continuing education courses through its programs for psychologists and other mental health professionals. Recognized by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) State Board, most of their online and video-on-demand programs meet the NYSED requirements. The APA also has a database of approved sponsors of continuing education credit options in different states. While the database may not be updated regularly, you can find providers who meet requirements set by the NBCC and licensing boards.
- A Healing Paradigm offers courses that meet requirements set by the NBCC, NASP, and ASWB, among others.
- The Zur Institute is a respected institute founded by psychoanalyst, teacher, and writer Dr. Ofer Zur. The institute has a large range of offerings. Many of its courses, webinars, and training sessions fulfill various requirements, including the guidelines of various individual state boards. Their continuing education online classes have received licensing board approvals from the NBCC, APA, ASWB, BRN, NAADAC, and state-specific boards, among other organizations and entities. Some of their certification programs are also approved by the IBCEES.
- The American Counseling Association (ACA) offers online professional development programs, as well as conferences and expos in which one can receive continuing education credits. It claims to be solely responsible for its programs. While it is an approved provider of the NBCC, not all of its courses qualify for NBCC credit. The ACA has also received approval from the Association for Play Therapy (APT), NAADAC, and the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), among other state-specific boards.
- CE4Less offers “continuing education for mental health professionals” which includes psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. This company has been around for two decades and boasts a long list of accreditations. They operate through individual plans in which you can access all of their courses over a specified time period.
- CE Learning Systems have accreditations and approvals from many licensing boards, including the NBCC, the NAADAC, and the APA. They offer courses geared toward various professionals in mental health, including addiction professionals. Their database allows you to check your specific requirements to see if the credit in question fulfills them.
- The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has its own online education system called Teneo. Here, they offer CE credits for maintaining licensure, applicable for an LMFT, LPC, or LCSW.
Other CE-providing organizations that are area-specific may also meet NBCC guidelines, such as NAADAC. Regardless of the company, organization, or provider you choose, remember that awareness of NBCC requirements can save you time, money, and energy. By picking a program that satisfies the requirements for receiving continuing education credits, you can help ensure that you don’t fall behind in your profession and that your clients are receiving effective and up-to-date care.
Investing In Your Own Mental Health
Offering mental health treatment to others can demand much of your time and energy. While the rewards of your profession may be invaluable, there are likely also times when your job is stressful or emotionally overwhelming. When you’re tasked with added responsibilities and requirements, like continuing education, this might be even more true.
Many therapists find that receiving therapy themselves allows them to safeguard their mental health and serve their clients more effectively. If you’re a therapist with a busy schedule, online therapy may be an appropriate option to consider. Virtual platforms like BetterHelp can connect you with a provider who understands your profession and knows how to help you cope with added stressors and other concerns. With online therapy, you can reach out to your therapist at anytime from anywhere, which could allow you to get the support you need despite the demands of your career.
The Efficacy Of Online Therapy
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of online therapy in helping individuals manage different mental health concerns. Many therapists on BetterHelp utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in conjunction with mindfulness-based interventions to help their clients. A meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions delivered online versus in person found that online MBIs were especially beneficial for relieving stress and improving mental well-being.
Among the many benefits of obtaining continuing education are career opportunities, certificate renewal, gaining new perspectives, and networking. There are many ways to earn CE credits, but continuing education credits must be verified through documentation, or through a verification form for courses that don’t provide a certificate of completion. Established and recognized providers of continuing education may meet the NBCC criteria, but not all courses count toward credits. Before taking a class or seminar, it’s advisable to check whether it meets the specific guidelines for your needs.
As a mental health professional seeking to hone your skills and maintain your license, you might be juggling multiple demands and responsibilities. If you feel that you’re experiencing more stress than usual, you may consider using an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, which can provide a more accessible form of support.