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.
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.
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.