Continuing Education for MFTs -
Continuing Education unit, or CEU, is used losely. Some state boards may define it differently than others. Which ever state board governs your license is the definition you need to be aware of before...
Continuing Education unit, or CEU, is used losely. Some state boards may define it differently than others. Which ever state board governs your license is the definition you need to be aware of before you seek your continuing education. A second phrase that is used is "contact/clock hour". This term gives a better frame of reference when assigning the amount of continuing education credit to a course. This article will look at both terms a little closer.
First term we will discuss is "unit". "Unit" is what the U stands for in the term CEU. For those who choose to define a CEU, usually define it as 1 CEU for every 10 hours of learning. Not all organizations within the mental health field hold to one definition. Some states say one CEU equals 10 hours of instruction, while other states will say one CEU is equal to one hour of instruction. In light of this conflict mental health state boards are moving away from using the term CEU or Unit when explaining the continuing education requirements of their licensed professionals. The term "contact hour" (or in some instances the term "clock hour") is gaining more widespread acceptance.
This term Contact Hour (or Clock Hour) is defined as one hour of actual instruction. This is usually accepted as 50 minutes as opposed to the full 60 minutes in each hour. 50 minutes became the accepted time for a contact hour because of the need for a break between sessions at conferences. At a live conference or workshop this can be easily calculated. How would this be defined with those earning continuing education through written materials at home?
Because the reading speed of individuals ranges dramatically, one hour of reading for one person can equate to a completely different amount of material for someone else. How is a "contact hour" measured with this format? The NBCC has a solution, define "contact/clock hour" as a certain word count for each document of a home study course. Here is an excerpt from the NBCC website explaining this:
"2. Home Study Programs.
Home study-approved clock hours must be calculated in accordance with the following requirements.
The number of hours of credit awarded must be based on an accurate word count for text-based materials, and on an accurate word count plus listening/viewing time for mixed text and audio/visual materials. A reading speed of 66 words per minute is used to calculate the number of clock hours that may be awarded for text-based home study programs. One hour of continuing education credit may be awarded for a minimum of 4,000 words of text."
http://www.nbcc.org/Assets/CEProvider/approvedproviderpolicies.pdf (page 10)
So, the bottom line is to be aware of how your state board defines CEU and how the provider you wish to use defines CEU and make sure they are both on the same page. Otherwise, you may be submitting certificates that are not approved by your state board. Because virtually every state accepts the term "contact/clock hour" make sure this is what gets printed on your certificate of completion for any online courses you take.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aspira Continuing Education is an online CEU provider that utilizes the NBCC definition of contact hour. Aspira provides courses for MFT continuing education. You can visit Aspira at http://www.aspirace.com. View Aspira's feed at MFT continuing education article feed.