Mental Health Counselor - Continuing Education

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is required to have continuing education?

Licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors and licensed social workers must complete continuing education (CE) per WAC 246-809-600.

Licensed associates must complete CE per WAC 246-809-632.

Applicants applying for licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselor, or licensed social worker must have completed 36 hours of CE, six of which must be in professional law and ethics. They must have received these hours after completing the academic requirements and prior to the department issuing their license.

Retired active licensed marriage and family therapists, retired active licensed mental health counselors and retired active licensed social workers must complete CE per WAC 246-809-730.

What courses are acceptable?

The CE program or course must be relevant and contribute to the advancement, extension and enhancement of the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor or licensed social worker (WAC 246-809-610).

Courses or workshops primarily designed to increase practice income or office efficiency are not eligible for CE credit.

  • Acceptable CE courses (including distance learning), seminars, workshops and postgraduate institutes are those which are:
  • Training programs sponsored by the agency where a counselor is employed are acceptable if counselors:
    • Show the experience contributes to the advancement, extension and enhancement of the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or the licensed social worker; and
    • Limit the training programs to 26 hours per reporting period.
  • Other learning experience, such as serving on a panel, board or council, community service, research, peer consultation, or publishing articles for professional publications are acceptable if counselors:
    • Show the experience contributes to the advancement, extension and enhancement of the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or the licensed social worker; and
    • Limit the experience to six hours per reporting period.
What are industry-recognized local, state, national, international organizations or institutions of higher learning?

WAC 246-809-620 says recognized organizations or institutions include, but are not limited to, the following organizations:

  • Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy;
  • Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work;
  • Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Work;
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association;
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy;
  • Clinical Social Work Federation;
  • National Association of Social Workers;
  • Washington Mental Health Counselors Association;
  • National Board for Certified Counselors;
  • Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care; or
  • Institutions of higher learning that are accredited by a national or regional accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation.
How many hours do I need and in what time period?

Every two years, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors and licensed social workers must complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE) per WAC 246-809-630. At least six of the 36 hours must be in professional ethics and law. These may include topics under RCW 18.130.180.

Every six years, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors and licensed social workers must complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment and management per RCW 43.70.442. The training must meet the requirements of WAC 246-809-615.

Licensed associates must complete a total of 18 hours of CE every year. Associates must include six hours of CE in professional ethics and law every two years. The six hours of ethics and law may contribute to the total 18 hours of CE for the year in which the CE was completed.

Every two years, retired active licensed marriage and family therapists, retired active licensed mental health counselors and retired active licensed social workers must complete 18 hours of CE. At least six of the 18 hours must be in professional ethics and law.

How are credit hours determined for preparation and presentation of a lecture or an educational course?

The license holder who prepares and presents lectures or education that contributes to the professional competence of a licensed counselor may accumulate the same number of hours obtained for continuing education purposes by attendees as required in WAC 246-12-220 per WAC 246-809-640. Counselors may use the hours for presenting a specific topic lecture or education for continuing education credit only once during each reporting period.

How do I document my courses?

WAC 246-809-650 says acceptable documentation shall include transcripts, letters from course instructors, certificate of completion, or other formal certification, as required in chapter 246-12 WAC, Part 7.

Is there a limit to the number of distance learning hours I can complete?

Distance learning programs must be approved by an industry-recognized local, state, national or international organization or institution of higher learning. These programs must require tests of comprehension upon completion. Limit distance learning programs to 26 hours per reporting period.

May I count training sponsored by my agency?

Training programs sponsored by the agency where a counselor is employed are acceptable if counselors:

  • Show the experience contributes to the advancement, extension and enhancement of the professional competence of the licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health counselor and/or the licensed social worker; and
  • Limit the training programs to 26 hours per reporting period.
How do I become an approved CE provider?

The department doesn't approve continuing education for licensed mental health counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists or licensed social workers.