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The Benefits of Continuing Education in Mental Health

December 1, 2022


By: Dr. Carla Smith, LCSW, LMFT

There’s always more to learn about mental health care. States and professional licensing boards have continuing education (CE) requirements to help mental health clinicians stay on top of new developments in the field. But, of course, it’s about more than maintaining credits and ticking boxes—it’s about obtaining high-quality learning that benefits both counselors and patients. Expanding your knowledge base will enrich your skill sets to achieve your professional development goals. Likewise, engaging with current research keeps you up to date on developments in the mental health care field. Overall, continuing education makes therapists better equipped to serve clients. 


What is Continuing Education?

The learning doesn’t stop once you’ve left formal education. Continuing education for mental health care professionals includes post-secondary courses, seminars, workshops, panel discussions, and more. Licensing boards set CE requirements because the field of mental health care is always evolving and mental health professionals learn to adapt to today’s landscape. For example, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Handbook says, “The purpose of the BACB’s continuing education (CE) requirement is to ensure that BCBA certificants engage in activities that will expand their behavior-analytic skills beyond the requirements for initial certification and help them stay up to date on developments in the profession.” The field of mental health is dynamic and continuing education is necessary so clinicians can practice through a lens of cultural humility. Even after getting certified, therapists are life-long learners who never stop expanding their knowledge and discovering new ideas.


Why Continuing Education is Important

Mental health care professionals have different reasons for continuing their education. Many people need CE credits to renew their licenses or maintain credentials. Others may be seeking professional development or added credentials. In addition, CE can help you grow your career and better navigate the mental health industry. For example, workshops and seminars are excellent opportunities to network with fellow peers. By talking with others, you can learn more about the ins and outs of your field. Likewise, additional certificates are excellent selling points when you want to improve your career. The following are some reasons why continuing education is beneficial. 

  • Meet licensure requirements
  • Earn CE credits
  • Add credentials 
  • Renew certificates
  • Achieve professional goals
  • Boost hireability  
  • Advance career
  • Grow professionally
  • Network with peers
  • Increase Salary


Benefits of Continuing Education

Regardless of the reason for continuing education, life-long learning offers immeasurable benefits for your mental health practice. Learning and growing professionally means you can continue to build culture competency and evolve as a clinician. For example, you can apply what you learned directly to your practice working with clients. Likewise, continuing education provides an opportunity for clinicians to learn and grow from each other. Interacting with colleagues at conferences or online can inspire confidence in your practice. Overall, professional development through CE boosts confidence and credibility and keeps you updated on current mental health research. 


CE Credit Requirements

Each licensing board has its own set of standards. For example, each CE event must meet certain length, content, documentation, and format criteria. Before signing up for a class, be sure the event organizers are approved CE providers who meet board requirements. In addition, every license-holder has a specific number of continuing education units (CEUs) they need to renew their certificate. For example, the National Board for Certified Counselors expects “a minimum of one hundred (100) continuing education (CE) credit hours during each five (5) year certification maintenance cycle.” Other entities present different requirements, such as the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, which require 32 hours per 2-year cycle, including 4 CEUs in ethics. Credit requirements vary from state to state as well. For instance, LCSWs in Kentucky need 30 hours of CE every three years; Colorado requires 40 hours every two years. It’s no surprise that clinicians need resources to help them obtain the CEUs that match their specific license requirements. 


Educational Resources for Therapists

Fortunately, many local, state and national organizations offer events that meet a variety of CE requirements. Many colleges and universities also provide courses for professional development in the mental health field. In addition, you can find seminars, workshops, classes, and peer consultations online and in person. Most boards provide directories on their website where you can search for approved providers. 


How Motivo Can Help

It’s hard to find high-quality CE events from a directory of providers. Fortunately, Motivo is offering quality continuing education through Motivo Learning. Our live and recorded panel discussions include thought leaders and subject matter experts in every corner of mental health. Motivo-learning provides an educational experience made with the clinician in mind. “As an educator and clinical supervisor, I understand the value of quality, engaging, continuing education that expands our knowledge of best practices in our clinical work,” said Dr. Carla Smith, Ph.D., LCSW, LMFT. Motivo Learning has 34 hours of approved continuing education credits NBCC, BACB, and ASWB certified. These certifications meet the qualifications for CE credits in most states for LCSW, LMFT, LPC, LMHC, and BCBA clinicians. Motivo Learning will add 6 hours of approved content each month. Our topics are relevant and multi-faceted including:

  • Treatment modalities
  • Law and ethics
  • Clinical supervision
  • Serving marginalized populations
  • Trauma-informed care 
  • Narrative therapy 
  • Six hours of approved content and new topics are added each month

Motivo Learning is $179 per seat for an annual, all-inclusive subscription. Subscribe today at


Engaging and Relevant Continuing Education

License renewal requirements mean clinicians need a certain number of CEUs. However, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for any lecture or seminar just because it’s close or convenient. With so many online options, you can keep up with what’s new in your field with engaging and relevant education. Engaging with up-to-date research and best practices helps you become the best therapist for your clients. Motivo Learning has the educational resources to aid mental health care workers in achieving their professional goals. 


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