PA 96 includes no new continuing education (CE) requirements. What follows is MMHCA’s POSITION about the issue of CE requirements:
As we were writing HB 4325, which was signed into law as PA 96 of 2019, we used model licensure language, and added additional language to address issues that we were facing in Michigan. One of the areas of research and consideration was what we would do about a CE requirement. The research is very clear that requiring a certain number of hours of continuing education does not ensure continuing competence, which is the purpose of requiring it. The main benefactors of requiring a certain number of hours of continuing education for relicensure are those who provide continuing education. While not ensuring increased competence, requiring a certain number of hours of continuing education for relicensure often puts an undue financial burden on licensees. It is even possible to purchase certificates for continuing education online without actually participating in a program!
For all these reasons, we chose not to give in to the pressure of requiring a certain number of CEUs for counselors to maintain their licenses simply because other professions do so. Our new license is considered the gold standard for counseling licenses across the country. We did not want to tarnish it with an inappropriate and ineffective requirement.
We also looked at the issue of continuing competence, something some states have included in their law. For those states who have this requirement, continuing competence can be demonstrated in a number of ways. Continuing education is usually one of those ways, but also such activities as publications in journals, professional presentations, and participation in professional organizations are ways to demonstrate continuing competence. Again, we looked at whether this was something that should be included in our law. To include such a requirement, we would need to demonstrate that there was a need for such a requirement. Looking at the nature of complaints against counselors in Michigan over the past 20 years, it became clear that there was not a need for such a continuing competence requirement in our law at this time.
All that said, our new law does require continuing education in a way that is appropriate and makes sense. Our law clearly states that LPCs may only do those things in their scope of practice for which they are trained. What that means is that if an LPC chooses to add something new to their practice, perhaps a new technique or way of working with clients (such as EMDR or Hypnosis), they would need to get training in that technique. If they wanted to add a new assessment instrument, they would need to get training in that instrument. If they wanted to work in a new setting, such as an integrated care setting, they would need to be able to demonstrate that they had appropriate training to do that work.
It makes so much more sense to require continuing education that is relevant and appropriate rather than simply require a certain number of hours in a certain timeframe. We believe that the way we chose to do continuing education in our new law is far superior to what other professions and laws have chosen to do. MMHCA is committed to continuing to provide high-quality continuing education programs for counselors and other mental health professionals which are truly focused on helping them to grow as professionals. And while we do offer CEUs for those who need them, our true goal is to offer programs that professionals attend, not to check off a box on a form, but because these programs are truly relevant to their practice and professional growth.