There is an increasing rate of suicide and depression in the United States. In fact, suicide rates are up by over 25% since 1999.
More and more people are seeking mental health treatment so the demand for mental health counselors is increasing. As a mental health counselor, you need to be trained to work with a wide range of individuals.
One way that you can handle the needs of your clients is to seek out continuing education for mental health professionals. Read on to understand what you need to know and how to choose the best provider.
Consider Your Purpose
Before you begin looking at courses and pricing, you should take some time to consider why you want to pursue continuing education.
Is it so that you can do your current job better? Or are you interested in a sub-field that you'd like to become more familiar with?
You may want to advance your career as a mental health counselor. Or maybe it's just a requirement for your Board.
These are all valid reasons. There are many opportunities for continuing education for mental health professionals.
You might find that an independent online course on a topic is just what you are looking for. Or you may want to complete a program that offers certification that you can add to your resume.
Understanding your purpose will help you target the type of continuing education that best suits your needs.
Understand Your Requirements
Next, be sure you understand your state's requirements on continuing education.
Each state has different criteria for what counts as valid credits. Make sure you understand these requirements so that you can maintain your license in your state.
Various boards also set requirements in order for you to maintain or renew your license.
Renewing your license often depends on you earning a set amount of continuing education credits with a specific period of time. And the set amount of credits may need to be focused on a particular area within mental health.
Those who fail to meet continuing education requirements might have their licenses revoked.
Always check your national and state regulations. Your board website might list all approved continuing education providers.
Become Familiar with the Key Terms
Units, hours, credits - these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. And they may mean different things for different licensing boards.
Make sure you visit each companies’ website to get a good understanding of how long each course is, and how many credits you will walk away with.
Here are some common continuing education key terms.
Credit or Contact Hours
State licensing boards set the number of credit (or contact) hours that you need to renew your license.
One credit is often equal to one hour of instruction time.
Homestudy is another word for distance education. You can take continuing education courses online.
Be careful though. Some states set a limit to the amount of homestudy credits you can take to renew your license.
How to Choose a Continuing Education Provider
You should consider various factors before choosing a specific continuing education provider. This will ensure that you get your money's worth and actually enjoy learning.
Excellent Course Selection
CE’s for mental health professionals need to be broad and current. Make sure that the courses offered cover a wide spectrum of subjects.
All continuing education providers should be constantly adding new course offerings. This will help you stay current in the changing landscape of your field.
Quality of Presentation
If you are considering online courses, it's essential that the presentation is professional and clear.
You'll want to make sure that if the course includes filmed lectures that the audio quality is excellent.
Most CE providers will post short video samples or screenshots of their courses. Use those to decide if the quality is there.
Price is our last consideration for a reason. Yes, it's good to get a deal. But the cheapest option is rarely the best one.
Instead of choosing the lowest price, try to find a provider that offers content that is reasonably priced. You get what you pay for after all.
Look for a provider that offers you flexibility. You may be tight on time to meet your state's requirements. In that case, you'll need a provider that will let you buy the courses you need right now.
Continuing Education for Mental Health Professionals
Continuing education for mental health professionals is absolutely necessary for today's ever-changing society.
As new research comes forward, you will need to be prepared to help your patients in the best way that you can.
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