Does continuing education matter for prelicensed therapists?

Brodie Vissers / Burst / Used under licenseTherapists and counselors never stop learning over the course of their careers. The educational process starts in graduate school, where trainees and students absorb as much information as they can within and outside of the classroom setting. In California, following graduation and registration with the BBS (Board of Behavioral Sciences), associate marriage and family therapists seek work and training opportunities that will allow them to continue expanding upon their knowledge of therapeutic techniques and treatment modalities. Once licensed, marriage and family therapists are required to obtain CEUs (Continuing Education Units*) in order to continue practicing.

We know that continuing education is important, but do continuing education hours matter for prelicensed therapists? CEUs are required in order to renew licenses with the BBS, but not registrations; therefore, the answer may seem like a straightforward “no.” The more complex answer is that CEUs can be beneficial for prelicensed therapists in certain situations.

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“At least it’s not cancer.”

Courtesy Emma JaegleI was working in a residential treatment center for teens. It was a typical mid-week day, and I was supervising “school time,” a period where clients are able to work on their treatment assignments and homework from their schools back home. Often during this hour, the primary therapists would pull the clients for individual sessions. I happened to know that today was the day that Nicole* was going to be given her diagnosis of depression, and I was prepared to help her process her emotions should she need coaching after her return from session. Sure enough, Nicole returned from her therapist’s office with a solemn look on her face. When she sat down away from her peers, I walked over to her and asked, “How did it go?”

She let out a sigh, “Well, I found out my diagnosis.”

I nodded. “I see. What’s that like for you?”

“I guess it’s better to know what’s going on and have an explanation for everything. At least it’s not like I have cancer!”

That comment gave me pause. I thought: But I have cancer.

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