Article 163 of the New York State Education Law defines the practice of mental health counseling to include the evaluation, assessment and treatment or adjustment of a disability, problem or disorder of behavior that affects an individual’s mental or emotional wellbeing. Professionally trained psychologists use verbal or behavioral methods with individuals, couples or groups to practice mental health counseling.
The law also deems it necessary that only licensed practitioners can use the title “mental health counselor” and offer their professional services to the public. The practices and rules of licensure vary from state to state. We, here at Core Wellness, ensure that the courses offered are approved and accredited by the different boards, as required. We are recognized by the NY State Education Department’s State Board CE Provider for Social Workers and Mental Health Practitioners.
Licensure and Registration for New York Psychologists
In New York, there is a clear difference between license and registration. There is a set of eligibility criteria that you will have to satisfy to get your license. They are as follows:
- A Master’s degree in counseling or higher.
- A minimum of 3,000 hours of experience under supervision after completion of the master’s degree.
- Clear the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
- Submit your completed application to the Office of Professions.
With these steps, you are eligible for your counseling license. The license in New York is fairly permanent. Only in cases of misconduct or malpractice, your license can be suspended. However, the state expects you to register yourself with the Board every three years after you have received your license. This provision is made in order for you to stay updated in your field of work. This falls under the purview of continuing education (CE), as established under the guidance of IACET (International Association for Continuing Education & Training) and the ANSI (American National Standards Institute). These organizations exist to ensure that the common people are getting the best possible care.
Registration and CEU Requirements
As of 1 January, 2017, the New York State requires its practicing psychologists to update their registration with the Board for Mental Health Practitioners every three years. The primary requirement for updating registration is the completion of 36 hours of acceptable formal CE hours during each three-year registration period.
Considering how recent this provision is, there is a phase-in period for this requirement. If your next registration period starts during the first three years after January 1, 2017, then your CE requirement is calculated pro-rata. For instance, let us say your registration expired on 30 June, 2017. Your new registration period would have begun on 1 July, 2017. Then, you should have done six hours of CE, calculated as one hour of continuing education for each month in your registration period after 1 January, 2017.
Sometimes, the registration period granted by the Board can be less than three years. This is done so that future renewals can occur during your birth month. Even in these cases, the calculation of CE hours is prorated as mentioned above.
CEU in New York
An hour of continuing education in New York is defined as a minimum of 50 minutes of a contact hour offered by registered organizations like Core Wellness. We offer live sessions and interactive webinars, both of which count as contact hours as per the requirement.
The state does not dictate how you schedule your CE hours, giving you the flexibility to make arrangements for it without affecting your practice. However, any additional CE credits cannot be carried forward to the next registration period.
Typically, CE credits are earned by attending the contact hours provided by registered organizations on a select range of topics that will contribute to your practice. Some acceptable subjects are clinical interventions, evidence-based practice, multidisciplinary courses that can enrich your practice from medicine, law, education, social sciences, patient communication and professional ethics.
You can also earn CE hours by structuring and teaching a new course in a provider of mental health counseling CE or at a higher education institution as long as it is approved by the State Education Department. Publishing an article on the practices of mental health counseling in a peer-reviewed journal or as part of a book can also be counted for CE hours. Please read the Board’s guidelines or write to them for verification or approval.
One-third of your CE hours can also be contributed by self-study courses. That means you can have up to 12 self-study hours (for a 36-hour CEU requirement). We, at Core Wellness LLC, offer both contact programs and self-study modules that are approved by the Department.
Once you complete the required hours, you can submit the Renewal Registration Form along with the certificate of completion (of CE hours). In case you are unable to complete the mandated CE hours, you can apply for a conditional registration from the Department which gives you an extension. This provision is available for certain special circumstances only. Otherwise, you are expected to complete your CE requirements to register yourself with the Board. Practicing without registration will expose you to legal action and other associated liabilities.