One discussion that was brought up at the past leadership conference, but due to time constraints was not elaborated on, was how to increase credibility of your state chapter through becoming the entity that defines what an accepted Continuing Educational Credit (CE) is.
In MA, we have built into the LMHC regulations; you can see them here at the mass.gov website, http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/faqs.html#7 that MaMHCA is the statewide authority for regulating and approving CEs in the state. Mass.gov defines this as “For LMHCs, CEUs must be approved under the standards of the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association (MAMHCA).” This means that if you wish to provide CE trainings to LMHCs they must be approved by MaMHCA. Also, if you are trying to figure out if the CE training you would like to go to is approved for LMHCs, then you would call our chapter to see if they are approved by us and therefore accepted as appropriate for continuing education.
Doing something like this in your state is important for a number of reasons.
First, by having your state chapter as the authorizing authority it allows the LMHCs in your state to self regulate. This is important to our profession because it allows us to define what we consider to be important to our profession in our state. I would argue that although it is important to get feedback from others regarding what is important in mental health, only LMHCs know what is important for our own profession. By having your state chapter become the authority on LMHC continuing education we can make sure that our workforce is getting proper oversight and appropriate education by regulating and identifying the content our professionals are getting.
Second, having your state chapter become the authority on CEs for LMHCs in your state increases the credibility and expertise that your state chapter has to offer its members. As the leading advocates for LMHCs, it is our duty to provide the highest level of standards and expertise to help our members grow in the profession. Our members want leaders who have their best interest at heart and work to define and guide the professional actions we take. By having your state chapter built into the regulations governing the definition approved continuing education offerings for your profession, it will take your state chapter one step closer to defining itself as the leader in your state. This may result in members wanting to join because they will look to your state chapter for additional guidance as the resident expert.
Third, there is no downside to adding your chapter to the regulations governing CEs for your profession. As it may currently exist in your state, the licensing body may be the entity which regulates approved CEs. That entity may be made up of a number of different professionals from different licenses and backgrounds all having an equal say as to what defines the continuing education of your profession. Being linked to other professionals’ CE regulations dilutes the authority of each profession in setting educational standards. In MA, the combined board grants the CE approval authority to each license group on the board. This allows each profession to define itself, as in other aspects of licensing standards and fosters the idea of equal autonomy on the Board. By separating ourselves from others and self-regulating we can not only give more credibility to our state chapter, but also our profession as a whole.
Lastly, creating a CE provider (your State Chapter) approval process can be a good revenue source for the association. In MA, we charge varying fees to look over and approve CEs that providers want to give their workforce. This is a great way to build up your treasury and increase your budget for other State Chapter pursuits. Here is a link to our website outlining the offerings: http://www.mamhca.org/mmcep/ce-provider-application/ Here is a link to the PDF application for you to look at, modify, or adopt as a template for your own State Chapter: http://www.mamhca.org/assets/1/7/Brand_New_MMCEP_Provider_Application_July_2015.pdf
Changing the regulations in your state is simple in theory, but does take time, effort and patience. It is a diplomatic road and you must be ready to defend your rationale for trying to solicit change. However, as the world leader in advocating for LMHCs it is our duty to continue to do what is right and needed for our members. This is a path we have chosen in MA and have had nothing but success reaped in the process.
I hope this idea serves you well in your state. If you have any questions, please contact me. #StateChapters