What is a CE?

Counselors, Social Workers, and Other Helping Professionals

For counselors, social workers, and other helping professionals, the continuing education (CE) unit is a nationally recognized noncredit measure of additional training in a specific field beyond a completed program. One CE unit is equivalent to 10 hours or 10 contact hours of study or participation in a career enrichment workshop under qualified direction. Continuing education units enhance professional development and provide a record of learning experiences.

National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) - NCC recertification CE requirement is 100 hours every five year certification cycle.

Virginia Board of Counseling - Virginia requires 20 hours per calendar year for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists (LMFT), and Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioners (LSATP), atleast 2 of which must be in courses that emphasize ethics. For more info click here.

For further information on counselor licensure and certification and continuing education requirments by state, visit the American Counselor Associatation Licensure and Certification information page or the National Board of Certified Counselors CE Hours Information page.



Continuing education (CE) in psychology consists of education opportunities that can be built upon a completed doctoral program in psychology. CE is a process that is ongoing, and that consists of formal learning activities that, a) help psychologists to develop, maintain, and increase their competencies in service practices to the public and to augment their contributions to the profession of psychology, b) allow psychologists to keep up with new and emerging technologies and issues in the psychology profession, and c) enable psychologists to gain relevant knowledge related to psychological education, science and practice. Thus, CE credits are not to substitute the basic academic training and education for those entering the field as psychology professionals, nor should CE credits be used as a way to make career specialty changes in areas that are APA-recognized, such as making specialty area changes from clinical to counseling or school psychology.

Many groups offer continuing education and call it by different names such as CE credit or CEUs. Keep in mind that a CE credit (such as APA offers) is given for every hour of instruction– it’s a 1-1 ratio. CEUs are given on the basis of 10 hours of instruction equals 1 CEU, or a 10-1 ratio. This is very important when calculating your “contact hours.”

Requirements by State - The American Psychological Association provides information on psychologist continuing education requirements by state, visit the American Psychological Association Professional and Continuing Education State Requirements page.

Virginia Board of Psychology - The Virginia Board of Psychology requires 14 hours of board-approved CE courses during each annual licensure renewal cycle with two further requirements:

  • At least 1.5 of these hours must be in courses that emphasize ethics, standards of practice or laws governing the profession of psychology in Virginia.
  • At least 7 of the required hours (50%) must be obtained in FACE-TO-FACE educational experiences.
  • Courses must be directly related to the scope of practice in the category of licensure held.