Why is it beneficial for a pre-licensee to complete continuing education courses? (California AMFTs, APCCs and ASWs)

Although you are not required to complete continuing education courses until you are licensed, these courses are a great way for pre-licensed clinicians to earn additional hours of experience and expand their knowledge and skills.  In addition, as of January 1, 2021 there is a new Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention requirement that can be satisfied with a continuing education course. 

As a pre-licensed clinician (Trainee or Associate) you can log continuing education courses in the category of workshops, seminars, training sessions or conferences.  Per the BBS regulations, these are the only hours of experience that you can claim in the absence of receiving at least one unit of supervision in a week.  If you complete a continuing education course the hours may be claimed toward licensure as long as your supervisor approves the training and the hours are documented on a signed experience verification form.  The BBS does not require you to retain or submit any additional documentation of the hours.

In a given week you may claim a maximum of 40 hours of experience (including supervision).  Under the Option 1 (New) Requirements, there is no category maximum specific to workshops, seminars, training sessions or conferences; all hours earned in the category may be claimed as long as you remain at or below the maximum of allowable hours in the non-counseling experience category.  For AMFTs and APCCs the category maximum is 1,250 and for ASWs the maximum is 1,000.  Continuing education courses are a great way for you to log additional hours of experience in weeks where you are not logging 40 total hours and weeks where you are unable to meet with your supervisor.

In addition to using continuing education courses as a way to increase the number of experience hours logged, you may also be able to use the hours to meet the new Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention requirement.  As of January 1, 2021 all applicants for licensure must meet this requirement in one of three ways:

  1. You completed coursework as part of your graduate degree program that qualified you for licensure.  If you want to use this option you need to obtain a written certification from the registrar or training director stating that the coursework was a required part of the curriculum for your graduation, and that you completed the coursework.
  2. You met the requirement as part of your applied experience.  If you want to use this option the experience must have been obtained through your practicum or supervised experience required for licensure and you need to obtain a written certification from the director of training or your primary supervisor. The certification must state that the required training was included in the applied experience.
  3. You completed a 6-hour continuing education course on suicide prevention from a provider that is acceptable to the Board.  If you want to use this option you need to complete the 6 hours and submit the certificate of completion when you apply to take your examination.

If you are unable to meet the Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention requirement with option 1 or 2, then you will need to use option 3.  By completing a 6-hour continuing education course on suicide prevention not only will you meet this new requirement, but you will also be able to claim the 6 hours of experience (assuming you do not exceed 40 total hours in the week and are not over the maximum for the category of non-clinical experience hours).

The next time you have a week where you are struggling to log enough experience hours or you are unable to meet with your supervisor, spend some time looking for a continuing education course.  These courses are a great way to earn additional hours of experience, expand your knowledge and skills, and meet the new Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention requirement.

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