• 35 clock hours completed by 9/30 of even numbered years.
‣ 5 ethics either in-person or interactive webinar.
‣ Minimum 15 core hours
‣ Maximum 10 online self-guided.
‣ Maximum 5 hours of independent study
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.
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 Licensing and Continuing Education 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 Educational Requirements
Telemental Health Educational Requirements
The honus is on licensees to understand this rule. Here is a direct link to GA Rule Chapter 135-11 Telemental Health. There are only specific types of courses the board will accept.
The rule states if you completed the required telemental health training within the past 5 years, you do not need to complete the training under Chapter 135-11.
When you renew your license, you must attest that you have completed the 35 hours of continuing education.
When you renew your license, you do not need to attest that you have completed the telemental health training within the past five years.
The board may request that you provide documentation that you completed the required training.
Don’t read into this rule.
This is how the board is currently enforcing telemental health training. It may change at anytime in the future and without notice.
For this reason, strictly speaking they are training requirements- not continuing education. Chap 135-11 is a new rule chapter and separate from 135-9, “Continuing Education”. It was created to accommodate telemental health definitions and requirements.
You may have other non-licensing credentials (for example the NBCC BC-TMH) that have different requirements. But if you have completed Georgia Board requirements you are permitted to practice telemental health in Georgia. Read Chapter 135-11 thoroughly to ensure you are in complete compliance.
Strictly speaking, these telemental health training requirements are not continuing education. They are a unique educational requirements.
Why? A separate new rule chapter was created and treats these training requirements in a unique manner.
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.
Find the Continuing Education Rules
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 .
Below, I 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. Continuing education that are not approved by your licensing specialty are accepted 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.
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.
Telemental Health Telesupervision
You only need these training hours if you are delivering distance or electronic 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.