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Now that you’ve established the importance of CEU’s and requirements within your field for maintaining or renewing your license, now it is time to find the right CEU’s that will promote your growth. This may seem like a daunting task — like you are searching in the dark without a flashlight. Where do you look? How do you know the CEU is being provided by a reputable source? How do you know they count towards licensure requirements?
A good starting point is to ask other mental health professionals at your practice or your academic institution. CEU’s were invented in 1970 by the United States Department of Education, so this is an established concept and many practitioners before you have been developing their knowledge via CEU’s for decades. Take advantage of that experience to help get you started!
You want to identify CEU providers that are approved by the governing bodies within your field, which may include the American Psychological Association, Association of Social Workers Board, National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), or Education Department State Boards from your respective commonwealth. Each such entity is responsible for approving continuing education providers within their respective areas and designates it via a provider approval code.
As an example, the NBCC, or National Board for Certified Counselors, is the governing entity for Certified Counselors within the United States. As such, they are responsible for setting and enforcing standards around CEU requirements for professional counselors. They also approve continuing education providers and designate approval through an approval number. Search for an approved continuing education provider using https://nbcc.org/search/acepdirectory. Once you identify a provider, investigate how, when, and where they offer courses or events, which be in-person or virtual sessions. Of course, there is the financial piece — the CEU’s likely cost money! Inquire with your current agency to see if they will fund, in full or in part, your continuing education efforts.
As mentioned previously a continuing education provider must be approved by the governing state board over your field. The Cognitive Behavior Institute’s Center for Education is one such approved provider offering a wide range of educational opportunities.
CBI’s Center for Education is approved by:
Now that you know the continuing education provider is approved, and how they offer CEU’s, you can move on to the next step...identify what CEU’s will help you grow professionally!
As you enrolled in graduate and undergraduate classes, you may have been in a particular track with predetermined courses you must take and a few leftover elective credits to spread your wings and explore something of particular interest. A decision point may have been, ‘which courses do I want to spend a full 16-week semester (and tuition) with a professor and peers in a classroom’ versus content to explore and fine tune your knowledge after your core education has been completed. Further, your internship experience may have sparked unknown interest or kindled some fires on where you’d like to grow your skills more intentionally. What better way than to strategically use CEU’s towards that goal.
Most CEU’s identify the intended target audience and provide ‘learning objectives’ a participant can expect to achieve by participating in the course or event. Review those objectives to see if it is a worthy investment of your time and money for taking the course. If it aligns with your field, then perhaps it is a good fit as the content has your specific area in mind in its design. Also consider your current knowledge base, which comprises previous coursework plus experiential supplements. Does this particular CEU promote an expansion of knowledge or an update based on new research? Life keeps moving and new research happens daily — mental health providers must keep current to maintain competency and strive towards aspirational ethics.
A professional trend over the last several years has been for practitioners to develop their own professional brand. Essentially each person is a product with certain skill sets and interests they can offer to prospective employers, agencies, and ultimately to clients. Your product is your knowledge, practical experience, and drive to serve client’s mental health needs. Choosing a graduate school program and track was a first step in developing your brand. CEU’s are the secondary steps. With each passing year and ongoing CEU’s, your brand becomes more robust, skills more updated and fine-tuned, and service to clients more competent and ethical, all the while being done of your own personally crafted desires.
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