The Business of Practice

The Importance of Continuing Education in Mental Health Careers

Psychology is a dynamic field, meaning best practices change over time. As a result, most mental health professionals are required by licensure to earn continuing education credits. Continuing education ensures clinicians are updated on new developments to help facilitate providing clients with the best care possible. 

The Importance of Continuing Education in Mental Health Careers

The Half-Life of Knowledge for Mental Health

The half-life of knowledge refers to the years it would take for half of the information or expertise available in a field of study to become defunct or superseded by new data. The half-life for information in psychology (broadly defined) has been calculated to be about 7.2 years, with wide variation depending upon the area of specialization. For example, the half-life of knowledge of psychoanalytic psychology, an established specialty with relatively little new research, has been estimated at 15.6 years. In contrast, the half-life for psychopharmacology, a relatively new field with burgeoning research, has been estimated at 4.8 years.

The half-life for information relevant to forensic psychology is currently estimated to be 7.5 years, and for police psychology to be 8.3 years. Estimates of the future half-life of these specializations are 6.6 years for forensic psychology and 7.2 years for police psychology. Thus, our knowledge base falls to about 50% without additional professional training or development within seven years.

Rapid developments in our knowledge and skill sets underscore the importance of keeping up to date with the research for implementation into practice. For example, a cursory review of the research literature in the area of risk assessment shows that we have gone from thinking about dangerousness to the importance of empirically established risk factors to the relevance of risk communication to models of structured professional judgment that highlight the management of risk factors, all within the last two decades.

Information regarding the half-life of knowledge underscores the importance of continued professional development. In psychology, for example, doctoral programs are designed to provide a broad and general foundation of knowledge and skills, with the expectation that graduates will continue to develop and build upon this foundation through additional specialized professional training and continuing education endeavors. CONCEPT offers senior-level graduate students the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to help cover the cost of professional development while still working toward their degree.

What Is Continuing Education?

A licensing agency must generally approve all continuing education courses to meet requirements for credit. Various organizations, such as the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, offer workshops  for specialized continuing education credits. 

Types of Continuing Education

Continuing Education Requirements

Each state's licensing board establishes the necessities for maintaining professional licensure. They are each different, but many requirements cover these key areas:

  • License renewal after a certain amount of time (e.g., every two years)
  • A minimum number of CE credits within that amount of time (e.g., 40 CE credits every two years)
  • A set amount of credit hours that have a particular focus within the professional’s field (e.g., 4 CE credits of ethics and 2 CE credits of diversity)

State-Required Continuing Education

State requirements can vary regarding the criteria for deeming a continuing education experience acceptable for credit or license renewal. Therefore, mental health professionals should conduct research and be aware of the specific requirements for maintaining a license in their area.

CONCEPT offers Continuing Education Credits (CEs/CPD) sponsored by numerous boards and strives to maintain the highest quality training consistent with continuing education standards. 

Benefits of Continuing Education

  • Review the latest research in the field
  • Develop new skills and expand your practice to include evidenced-based treatments
  • Stay abreast of topics required for licensures, such as ethics or diversity
  • Liability insurance carriers offer discounts for continued training
  • Minimize the chances of using outdated information
  • Opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills to case studies and case illustrations similar to those encountered in one’s professional practice

Online Continuing Education

An online format for continuing education provides for worldwide dissemination of training, eliminates the need to travel to obtain further professional development, allows the professional to work at their own pace, and does activity by the best of the best access to all. In addition, It can be challenging to develop a healthy work-life balance. So, taking on-demand courses from home or work allows professionals to earn credits while managing their time and other responsibilities, assisting them in learning when it's best for them.

Group Training

CONCEPT makes it easy for your team to learn and earn together. We assess your team's needs, then create and implement a seamless, customized training program for your diverse staff.

Considerations for Choosing a Continuing Education Course

  • Which format will best suit your professional goals?
  • Does the CE course you’re considering adhere to your state’s requirements for approval?
  • Is the topic relevant to your practice?
  • What are the credentials of the presenter or instructor?

Continuing education opportunities offer a platform for expanding your familiarity with varying specialties. CONCEPT’s courses provide professionals with an in-depth training experience, and quality content focused on meaningful topics. So begin today and develop more profound knowledge to fill gaps in your practice and incorporate excellence into your specialty.

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