California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday signed Assembly Bill 1759, making a couple of key changes in continuing education (CE) requirements for California MFTs, clinical counselors, and clinical social workers. There’s a new one-time Telehealth CE requirement for everyone, and a new annual Law and Ethics CE requirement for Associates.
I wrote this poem several years ago, and republish it each fall as a welcome to students beginning their graduate studies in the mental health professions.
Every fall, the universities where I teach enroll dozens of new students into our graduate programs in mental health care. Our new students tend to be immensely talented, and many of them (as at any school) are also immensely anxious as they begin their journey.
As I’ve covered here before, it can be quite difficult to get a real sense of how much your MFT graduate program will cost before enrolling. Universities have a habit of being opaque about MFT program costs. And the end result is that financial planning around graduate education can be a serious challenge. New data shows that MFT program costs vary even more widely than I had suspected, with full program tuition cost estimates ranging from less than $15,000 to more than $120,000.
From the time you were in graduate school, your instructors and supervisors have likely emphasized the importance of self-care. Burnout is a real risk in the world of counseling and psychotherapy, and you have to be able to take care of yourself in order to avoid it.
These messages come from a good place. But they ignore reality for many therapists, especially those early in their careers. And those messages often come with dangerous assumptions and a dark undercurrent: If you’re having a hard time, it’s your own fault.
So, uh, yeah, it’s pretty much all in the headline! We’ve updated our essential guide to California law for master’s-level mental health professionals. Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs (6th edition) is now available on Amazon and at our site. Here’s a rundown of what’s new, with a discount link at the end of this post.
It’s worth pointing out here that, unlike the fifth edition, this sixth edition isn’t what we would call a major update. While there are several new laws we included in this edition, the main legal changes taking effect in 2019 are around supervision — more on that below.
I’ve been doing couple therapy (not “couples therapy”) for almost 20 years now, going back to my time as a graduate student. I truly enjoy the work. It’s enriching in countless ways, one of which is the amount of time I get to spend learning about and thinking about how romantic relationships are built and sustained. While my couples have taught me a great deal, I’ve also learned from some great books that take the mechanics of couple relationships and either break them down or bring them to life.
Here are, in just one therapist’s opinion, three books every couple therapist should read.
When the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) started in 2007, mental health professionals all over the country expressed optimism and relief. Student debt is crushing younger mental health professionals — hear two stories, in their own words, here. The PSLF program promised those working in nonprofit agencies and in public service that if they just stuck it out for 10 years, the remainder of their direct student loans would be forgiven.
Any kind of mental health work is challenging, but nonprofit clinics and public systems are notoriously difficult to work in. They offer low pay, low-functioning clients, a ton of paperwork, and often, little support. It’s no wonder that many counties struggle to fill those jobs at all.
For those clinicians who experience the work as a calling, though, the PSLF program offered a lifeline. It would be a reward for staying put in positions that most therapists understandably leave. For those who otherwise faced a possible lifetime of debt, PSLF suggested a way out.
It’s not going well so far.
If you weren’t able to attend the first-ever Therapy Reimagined Conference on October 5-6 in Culver City, CA, then I’m sorry to say you missed some incredible speakers. Their presentations covered a number of topics that are relevant to the modern therapist, including navigating the prelicensed years, engaging in advocacy, increasing efficacy with clients, becoming more business-saavy, avoiding burnout, practicing more authentically as a therapist, and so much more!
As I listened to the various speakers (and took my turn up on the stage at one point), I marveled at how each individual was unique yet similar in certain regards. It led me to wonder, “How did this speaker get to where they are professionally?” Although everyone’s story was different, I believe we can learn quite a bit from what they had in common.
A little more than two years ago now, I left my position as an Associate Professor at Alliant International University in Los Angeles. Many people have asked me since then why I left full time academic work. The position was relatively well-paid, with good job security. I had good colleagues, many of whom are friends to this day. I had the closest thing to tenure that the university offered: A five-year rolling contract. And I was teaching and doing research, both of which I love.
I’ve gotten used to providing a diplomatic answer to that question. My wife and I were starting a family, and the time had come for me to make a change. That’s true, it’s just purposefully incomplete. Here’s the full story.
Graduate programs around the state use Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs to teach their students. If you’re a grad student in California, and your program doesn’t use it, they should. It’s a good desk reference for clinicians as well, considering how often the law changes. If you’re licensed, you can now meet your license renewal requirement for CE in Law and Ethics by reading Basics.