Mental Health Counselor – Continuing Education | Washington State Department of Health – Washington State Department of Health | Vette Leader

Who is obliged to take further training?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, and Licensed Social Workers are required to complete Continuing Education (CE) under WAC 246-809-600.

Licensed employees must complete CE per WAC 246-809-632.

Applicants seeking certification as a licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor, or licensed social worker must have completed 36 hours of CE, six of which must be in professional law and ethics. They must have obtained these hours upon completion of the academic requirements and before the department issuance of their license.

Actively licensed retired Marriage and Family Therapists, actively licensed retired mental health counselors, and actively licensed retired social workers are required to complete CE under WAC 246-809-730.

What courses are acceptable?

The CE program or course must be relevant and contribute to the development, expansion, and enhancement of the professional competency of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor, or licensed social worker (WAC 246-809-610).

Courses or workshops designed primarily to increase practice income or practice efficiency are not eligible for CE credits.

  • Acceptable CE courses (including distance learning), seminars, workshops and postgraduate institutes are those that:
  • Training programs sponsored by the agency employing a consultant are acceptable if the consultants:
    • Demonstrate that the experience will help to develop, expand and enhance the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or licensed social worker; and
    • Limit exercise programs to 26 hours per reporting period.
  • Other learning experiences, such as serving on a board, board or council, community service, research, peer counseling, or writing articles for professional publications are acceptable if the counselors:
    • Demonstrate that the experience will help to develop, expand and enhance the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or licensed social worker; and
    • Limit experience to six hours per reporting period.
What are industry-recognized local, state, national, international organizations or colleges?

According to WAC 246-809-620, recognized organizations or institutions include, but are not limited to, the following organizations:

  • Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy;
  • Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work;
  • Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Work;
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association;
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy;
  • Clinical Social Work Association;
  • National Federation of Social Workers;
  • Washington Mental Health Counselors Association;
  • National Board of Certified Consultants;
  • Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare; or
  • Higher education institutions accredited by a national or regional accreditation body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation.
How many hours do I need and in what period?

Every two years, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, and licensed social workers are required to complete 36 hours of Continuing Education (CE) per WAC 246-809-630. At least six of the 36 hours must be in professional ethics and law. This may include topics under RCW 18.130.180.

Every six years, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, and licensed social workers are required to complete a six-hour training session in suicide assessment, treatment, and management per RCW 43.70.442. Training must meet the requirements of WAC 246-809-615.

Licensed employees must complete a total of 18 hours of CE each year. Associates are required to complete six hours of CE in professional ethics and law every two years. The six hours of Ethics and Law can add to the total of 18 hours of CE for the year the CE was completed.

Every two years, retired active licensed marriage and family therapists, retired active licensed mental health counselors, and retired active licensed social workers are required to complete 18 hours of CE. At least six of the 18 hours must be professional ethics and law.

How are credit hours for preparing and presenting a lecture or course determined?

The licensee who prepares and presents lectures or training that contributes to a licensed consultant’s professional competency may earn the same number of hours earned for continuing education purposes by participants as specified in WAC 246-12-220 per WAC 246-809- 640 required . Advisors may only use the hours to present a specific topic of lecture or education for continuing education credits once per reporting period.

How do I document my courses?

WAC 246-809-650 states that acceptable documentation must include transcripts, letters from instructors, certificates of completion, or other formal attestations as required by WAC Chapter 246-12, Part 7.

Is there a limit to the number of distance learning hours I can take?

Distance learning programs must be approved by an industry-recognized local, state, national, or international organization or institution. These programs must require tests of comprehension upon completion. Limit distance learning programs to 26 hours per reporting period.

Can I get credit for training sponsored by my agency?

Training programs sponsored by the agency employing a consultant are acceptable if the consultants:

  • Demonstrate that the experience will help to develop, expand and enhance the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or licensed social worker; and
  • Limit exercise programs to 26 hours per reporting period.
How do I become an approved CE provider?

The department does not authorize continuing education for licensed mental health counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, or licensed social workers.

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