Continuing Education for MFTs in California: CEUs Explained
Change is inevitable, and MFT CE requirements in California is no different. Staying on top of these changes is crucial. As in most professional licenses, there is a requirement to obtain a certain number of CE units for MFTs prior to submitting for license renewal. California, as a courtesy, will usually send out a reminder of license expiration a few months prior to the actual expiration date. It is the sole responsibility of the licensed MFT to keep all record of their MFT continuing education coursework, including all certificates of completion. These documents will only be required if audited. There are different hour requirements of some CE credits for MFTs in the first renewal period as compared to all future renewal periods. It is very important to know how many CEUs are necessary for the mandated courses for each license renewal.
MFT Continuing Education: First Renewal Period for CA Marriage and Family Therapists
The total MFT continuing education requirements in California are 36 hours for license renewal. 16 of these hours are in mandated areas for the first license renewal while the other courses may choose according to the therapist’s practice or areas of interest. Each course must be from an approved provider.
6 of the 36 hours must be focused on law and ethics.
Three hours of the MFT continuing education requirements should be devoted to the concerns of the aging and those in long-term care no matter what the focus of the therapist’s practice.
The HIV and Aids requirement is 7 hours and applicable to all MFTs who are applying for their initial license renewal.
7 of the 36 hours must be obtained from courses on Spousal and Partner Abuse.
MFT Continuing Education: Mandatory Courses Post First Renewal
CE requirements for all subsequent renewals will require 36 hours of CE, including 6 hours of Laws and Ethics. The 6 hours of Laws and Ethics will be required for every renewal period. The other 30 hours can focus upon areas applicable to the therapist’s own practice. These courses must be from a provider that has obtained CA BBS approval.
A professional who has survived the educational requirements to become a licensed MFT in the state of California will often be involved in a private practice and taking time for formal on-site classes may be an issue. The demands of their client schedule as well as their personal life may leave little time for continuing education even though the necessity is acknowledged. There are multiple ways to satisfy the California MFT continuing education requirements and these methods are as varied as the therapists who practice in the state.
An individual teaching continuing education courses may claim CE credit if the course is approved for CE by the State of California. Each course, although taught several times during a renewal period, can be claimed only once. Additionally, work experience may apply toward CE for the MFT, especially those required for the initial renewal period. However, the six hours of Laws and Ethics can’t be claimed by work experience. Although MFT continuing education documentation doesn’t have to be submitted with the license renewal application form, the applicant must keep documentation for a period of at least 2 years in case of an audit. In the case of an audit, the professional will be required to submit documentation of MFT continuing education courses.
CA CEUs for MFTs Acquired Through Distant Learning
The state of California allows all 36 units to be obtained from online sources if they are interactive in nature and/or contain video presentations. Courses that are more of a self-study and require the licensee to submit the exam vial mail for grading can be applied to only 18 of the 36 hours. Even though this second option can seem a little restrictive, it is still far better that only having the option of traveling to a conference or attending several in-person presentations. Both options mentioned above provide more flexibility for the licensed professional in how they allocate their time.
One very important item to look for when choosing an online provider is that they have an active PCE number. The CA BBS issues a PCE number to each provider they approve to offer online MFT continuing education. Those providers who do not have a PCE number displayed on their website may not be approved and all of their courses would not be accepted by the CA BBS for the MFT CEU requirements. This is important because when audited the licensed therapist will need to submit all documentation of completed coursework including certificates of completion. These certificates need to have the PCE number printed on them. These certificates are required to be issued from the provider for each course completed successfully. It is the licensed MFT’s responsibility to hold on to all documentation for a period of two years. Some online providers will have a feature to store all certificates of completion. These certificates can then be accessed at any time for future reference.