Simple CEU Requirements for Georgia LPC LCSW and MFT

Ethics Demystified: Simple CEU Requirements for GE LPC CSW MFT

Made Simple: Continuing Education Requirements for Georgia LPC SW and MFT

Pursuant to Georgia Code § 43-10A-16:

• 35 clock hours completed by September 30 of even numbered years.

‣ Five Synchronous ethics hours

‣ Minimum 15 core hours

‣ Maximum 10 Asynchronous (online)

‣ Maximum 5 hours of independent study

**This page was updated of 10/22/2020.** Contained in rule chapter 135-9, continuing education requirements had not changed in many years. However, the rule limiting to 10 online hours was amended when internet education courses and live webinars began to grow rapidly. Many LPCs also wanted to complete an NBCC Approved Live Webinar.

The rule also defines “not more than 15 shall be related hours”. But to clarify, theoretically, you could obtain 100 related hours during a licensing cycle– provided you complete 15 Synchronous Core Hours and 5 Synchronous Ethics. Therefore, there is no maximum number of related hours.

PRO Tip: Take advantage of those Independent Study hours.

The composite board accepts up to 5 hours of independent study activities as acceptable continuing education. Complete some independent research or reading – even if it is informal -to further your professional knowledge. Complete a signed affidavit detailing the research and you will be prepared should the board audit your continuing education during that licensing period.

Good Reads: Understanding Asynchronous and Synchronous: the 2020 CE changes

Purpose of Professional Continuing Education

Innovations and changes occur in all trades. Remember when dentists recommended you brush your teeth up and down? Then they changed it to brush downward. Now apparently you have to use an electric toothbrush.

The same applies to mental health professionals. Patients are treated with new psychotherapies.

Knowledge of brain function has advanced. It is important your counseling is based upon the most current research. Licensing boards are mandated by state governments to protect the public and ensuring competent professionals is included in that mandate.

You don’t want to become a dinosaur in your profession. There are emerging issues in counseling practice. The modern counselor or social worker should be competent in working with trends in sexual behavior and addictions. Importantly, online psychotherapy has changed what constitutes ethical practice. Ethics is the only specific content area that Georgia’s Composite Board requires each renewal period.

History of Masters Level Continuing Education Rules in Georgia

Chapter 135-9 was written shortly after the law creating the Composite Board and the original board members were appointed on September 1 1985. The rule provides more detail to the law at GA Code § 43-10A-16, but the law is brief:

‣ The board shall adopt continuing education requirements.

‣ The number of required continuing education hours would be limited to what is practical and realistic for licensees.

Telemental Health and Diagnose Educational Requirements

These requirements are technically not continuing education. They are educational requirements. Why?

‣ They are only required once.

‣ They are defined differently than CE hours.

You can view the board meeting minutes passing the telemental health rule.The board voted unanimously to pass the rule on September 11 2015 and it became officially effective October 7 2015.


I will do my best to keep you current, but I can’t guarantee this information will not change.

Second, the board does it’s best to apply all rules uniformly but having personally performed hundreds of audits there are other factors in evaluating CE certificates. What are CE requirements for GA LPC social workers and MFT? Here it is in detail:

PRO Tip: Complete a continuing education workshop in boundaries.

Did you know the most frequent reasons the licensing board suspends licenses is because of a dual relationship or boundary issue? Sometimes the boundary crossing is not deliberate, but you cannot plead ignorance. Gaining full competence in managing boundaries with patients is an ongoing challenge. You can never get too much training in boundaries.

Find the Continuing Education Rules

For LAPC’s  it helps to have a competent clinical supervisor to assist you understanding, but you are responsible for abiding by all board rules. Tap on this link to the Composite Board CE rules. the it will open in a new window. Attest to the copyright notice. Examine the index. Scroll down to Chapter 135-9 and open it. Here are the main points to remember:

How many hours are required and who needs them?

GA LPC SW and MFT are required to obtain 35 CE hours each even numbered year. If you have been issued any type of license by the Composite Board you must fulfill CE requirements as stated in rule Chapter 135-9 . I will provide examples of different scenarios and you will see there are many different ways of meeting continuing education requirements in Georgia.

Synchronous Ethics Continuing Education

Ethics continuing ed must be face-to-face. Their focus must be ethics. They must be professional association approved as ethics CE hours. These organizations include LPCA of Georgia, NBCC, NASW, AAMFT and so on.

Regardless of your license type, ethics hours are accepted by the board IF they are approved by ONE of those licensing specialties. They can also be counted as core hours. For example, if you are a LMSW who takes 5 ethics hours approved by NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors) the board will accept the hours.

Georgia’s Composite Board does not require continuing education in specific content areas (there are exceptions but I will discuss that later in this post). Not true for some other states. For example some of Florida’s Licensing Boards requires HIV/AIDS related training.

Synchronous Core CE Hours

Core Hours can be face-to-face but may also be completed online. They must be approved by a state or national professional association that represents your licensing specialty e.g. LCSW, LMFT and so on.

For example, if you are a licensed social worker the CE workshop must be approved by NASW or GSCSW or a similar social work professional association. There are other non-professional association courses that are acceptable to the board primarily graduate courses through an academic institution.

Related CE Hours

They can be approved by a professional association or academic institution but not necessarily. There are many many other sources (hospitals and so on) and types of education that qualify as related hours. Related hours provide opportunities to obtain education in other healthcare topics.

Independent Study CE Hours

Just what it says: independent study. Delivering a presentation, personal academic study and similar activities. You are allowed five (5). Prepare a notarized affidavit that you attest to completing the independent study.

What is the difference between online and independent study?

They are entirely different. We frequently engage in professional development activities–general reading and study. This qualifies as independent study. Document the number of hours. Online courses can count as core hours if approved as such. Remember that online is limited to 10 hours.

Example Scenarios

1) As a social worker, you obtained 20 hours at the NASW Georgia Chapter Conference…Five hours were ethics… You also were a presenter of a 5 hour workshop at the same conference… You completed 10 hours sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Family Studies… Rationale: 15 Core + 5 ethics from the conference. 5 independent study from the conference for preparation time of the presentation + 10 related from U of Alabama = 35.

2) As a professional counselor, you obtained 6 hours supervision ethics approved by NBCC…Five (5) hours ethics and boundaries approved by GSCSW…Five (5) hours “Ethics: Understanding the Composite Board Complaints Investigation Process” approved by NBCC…Ten (10) hours of online CEs approved by NBCC for Core Hours… Four (4) hours in medication management provided through Emory University Nursing Department…Five (5) Hours of Independent Study. Rationale: You met your 5 ethics via the GSCSW approved program. The remaining 11 ethics hours can be applied to core since they are approved by a professional counseling association. The 10 online are also approved for Core Hours. You have a total of 21 Core Hours. You have 4 related hours via the Emory University Nursing Department. 5 hours independent study: 21 Core + 4 Related + 5 ethics + 5 Independent study= 35 hours.

The “strategy” used in this scenario is to apply the GSCSW hours for your 5 hours ethics and “save” the professional counseling approved hours for your core hours.

3) Marriage and Family Therapist…

Twenty (20) Hours from GAMFT conference…Twenty (20) Hours at the National AAMFT Conference which included 5 Ethics. Rationale: 35 Core Hours + 5 Ethics = 40 CE hours.

Chapter 135-11 Telemental Health and Chapter 135-12 Testing and Assessment

The composite board added two new rule sections– telemental health and testing/assessment.There is a new testing and assessment law.

There is no telemental health law–only rules.

Review these requirements. Both are one-time requirements hours that may be applied to the biennial licensing renewal period. In other words, these hours can be also used to fulfill PC SW and MFT continuing education requirements. In this instance, you may double-dip.

Telemental Health and Telesupervision

You only need these if you are delivering telemental health or telesupervision. In short, 6 hours of telemental health training and 3 additional in telesupervision ( AKA distance supervision).

Diagnose and Testing Assessment Educational Requirements

In short, 5 or 3  academic clock hours in quarters or semesters respectively. You likely completed these in your graduate program. The course curriculum should include DSM or Psychopathology. The board at it’s discretion can choose to accept other courses. An organized training acceptable to the board. “As of April 26, 2016, persons licensed under this chapter with at least ten years of experience as a professional counselor, clinical social worker, or marriage and family therapist working with people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse and in good standing with the Board are exempt from this requirement.”

For additional questions, inquire directly with the board.

Diagnosing for Mental Health Professionals

Coming Soon!  “Ethics and DSM V: Comprehensive Assessment of Perceptual Disturbance”. This is a unique approach to diagnosing mental illness because it focuses on the common factor in all mental disorders: perceptual disturbance. Disturbance in perception is a cornerstone of diagnosing accurately. This continuing educational training also helps participants determine when to discuss the diagnosis with the patient and the hazards of ‘labeling’.

The Importance of Evaluating Perceptual Disturbance and Psychosis

Perceptual Disturbance is perhaps diagnose courses mental health professionalsthe most important clinical information to collect. In many ways it is the cornerstone of understanding mental disorders. Regardless of your psychotherapeutic approaches, the goal is change in your clients’ perception. This is true for everything from career struggles, developing self-esteem, addictions and severe mental illness. Knowing when to recommend evaluation for psychiatric medication is important. This requires an understanding of when psychosis is treatable with therapy or whether medication is required. Understanding altered perception and psychosis is fundamental to arriving at the correct diagnosis. If you have experience in the assessment of perceptual disturbance, you can diagnose many mental illnesses.

Perceptual Disturbance and Psychosis takes on many forms. Psychosis is observed in not only schizophrenia but schizoaffective, major depression, bipolar disorder, substance or drug induced, delirium, post-partum childbirth, dissociative disorders, head injury, medical disease and many others.

How do I assess non-psychotic perceptual disturbance?

Frequently, a psychosocial evaluation screens for psychotic symptoms but not a range of perceptual disturbance. Since every case is different, you will need to know when to inquire about non-psychotic perceptual problems. A great approach is to assess for perceptual anomalies and if these are significant, assess for psychotic symptoms. This is particularly true when you are in private practice or you work with populations with low rates of severe mental illness as it can facilitate your patient’s comfort with providing truthful and reliable information. Patients with histories of depressive episodes or suicidal thoughts or past attempts can be assessed using this approach.

For example, non-psychotic perceptual disturbance can also allow you to predict in advance a relapse of illness. Perhaps you have learned from experience with your patient that irrational fears, hypersensitivity to sound or other stimulation predicts the onset of a major depressive episode with severe psychosis. This also allows you to intervene proactively.

Modification of the Diagnosis

Unless your patient presents to you with a known diagnosis, you can usually only diagnose based upon current information available at the time of assessment. As you observe your patient over time and monitor symptoms this will render a clearer clinical picture. For this reason, you may later change your diagnosis of the patient. An important factor is whether the psychosis persists with treatment, whether there is partial remission or full remission. Full remission of psychosis occurs when it is substance induced. Full remission is possible with major depression. Full remission is usually not possible with schizophrenia. In this fashion, it is clear the importance of understanding psychosis in diagnosing mental disorders.

Diagnoses are often later modified for patients admitted to inpatient psychiatric treatment because the objective is to evaluate acute symptoms and proceed with admission.


This was an introduction to how developing a framework for understanding perception can be an aid in accurately diagnosing mental disorders.

nbcc approved continuing education provider georgia

Eric Groh LPC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6921.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Eric Groh LPC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.