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Jun 10, 2013

Three Reasons Counselors Should Never Stop Learning

ONE: Continual learning is a requirement in the counseling profession.

Summer ‘tis the season of license renewal and continuing education completion, fees for license renewal are due to the board of health professions along with the promise that continuing education requirements have been met. I have been guilty of groaning about paperwork and requirements, but I find the process of continuing education rejuvenating and exciting.

TWO: Engaging in the student role allows us to remember what it is like to “sit in the other chair.”

 As a counselor educator and college professor I am always encouraging my students to take responsibility for their learning and make the most of their “opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge” aka exams. Engaging in continuing education opportunities gives me an opportunity to put on the student hat and remain open and teachable, just as I encourage my students to remain. The fact that the CEUs are required, gives me an “excuse” to make an investment in a new training, conference, or class.

As I began compiling the paperwork and updating the continuing education unit (CEU) log for this year, I realized that the opportunities for continuing education abound and take many different forms such as: taking a counseling related college course, developing a new course, conference presentations (attending & presenting), writing a book, completing an online webinar, and completing specialized trainings, to name a few. Personally CEU’s provide an opportunity to gain perspective, refreshment, and inspiration that allow me to continue learning more so that I have more to give to my clients, students, supervisees, and peers.

THREE: Learning new information is inspiring to us and those around us, and it may be contagious.

Although there are many options available, I have found that some may be more value added than others.  In my personal experience, I find that I have several colleagues that inspire me to grow and learn and be a better teacher and counselor. One such colleague is Dr. Gary Sibcy, he has inspired me to seek training, that he also completed, on the use of an assessment instrument in the field of attachment called the “Adult Attachment Interview” (AAI; developed by Mary Main & her colleagues). Although, some of the training and subsequent assignments have been quite labor intensive, I have noticed that when I engage with colleagues who participate in these types of intensive learning experiences I tend to feel excited and stimulated. When Dr. Sibcy shared with me how the AAI may allow counselors and researchers to predict the attachment style of the unborn child, I knew this was an assessment I wanted to learn more about.

So, there you have it, three reasons to embrace the continuing education requirement. As we continue to learn and grow in a structured way we meet the CEU requirements of our profession, gain continued experience in the other role which helps us to remain teachable, and we also inspire ourselves and those around us. As counselors, or helping professionals, we are always seeking to enhance the lives of others and as we continue learning this process is facilitated. As the 19th century American novelist Henry James put it, “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”

Anita Knight is a counselor, counselor educator, and author.  See for more information.

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