We’re halfway through September and many of you may either be in full-swing of your first or final year of graduate school, or first year of “real world” employment (which, from personal experience, can still feel like a new year because my internal schedule is still in academic year mode; it will adjust, eventually).
Even if you’re done with school, you probably know that (cheesy public service announcement moment time…bear with me) you’re not done with lifelong learning™. If you’re lucky to live in one of the many states that require it (probably all, though check your board), you will be required to take a certain amount of education hours to be able to renew your license triennially.
Before you even take your licensing exam, you will probably have to take a mini-course on mandated reporting, so continuing education begins immediately after graduation.
But what benefit will this have if you haven’t even taking the licensing exam?
1. It will help you “click” with your niche or develop a specialty. For example, if you eventually want to get your CASAC certification (Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor in New York state, with equivalents in other states), you will need to take additional coursework in addictions treatment. Also, once you get your license, taking courses in a niche or specialty makes you instantly more marketable for a job.
2. You will become more therapeutically skilled. Whether you go all-out and join a four-year psychoanalytic training program, or take a brief course in mindfulness, learning a certain type of therapy on a deeper and more proficient level will enhance your understanding and conceptualization of client’s psychosocial problems. Whether it be a theory-specific definition, or how to intervene in a clinical vignette, even reading a book about a modality can be a great start to help you not just with the exam, but also in developing into a well-rounded practitioner.
3. It’s often free. 🙂 Remember those $700+ per credit courses? Well, you still have to pay back those loans. However, a lot of continuing education after graduate school is often either free or funded by agencies that invest in professional development (especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a union job that invests in staff development).
Bring on the books and teachers.