Professional Membership Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

A list of membership associations for mental health counselors, psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, specialists, etc., including ACA/APA divisions and international organizations

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Image by 정훈 김 from Pixabay

This is a list of professional memberships organizations for mental health clinicians and specialists. This listing includes American Counseling Association (ACA) and American Psychological Association (APA) divisions.

National (United States)

American Counseling Association (ACA) Divisions
American Psychological Association (APA) Divisions

Canada

UK & Ireland

Australia & New Zealand

European Organizations

International Organizations & Associations


Group Therapy Resource Guide

A resource guide for clinicians who facilitate counseling groups

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Throughout my counseling career, group therapy has been a focal part of what I do. I’ve worked mainly in residential settings where groups take place several times a day.

Initially, group counseling terrified me. (What if I can’t “control” the group? What if a member challenges me? What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if everyone gets up and leaves? – that actually happened, once – and on and on. What made group therapy especially intimidating was that if I “messed up,” an entire group of people [as opposed to one person] would witness my failure.)

I got over it, of course. Group facilitation wasn’t always comfortable and I made many (many!) mistakes, but I grew. I realized it’s okay to be both counselor and human; at times, humans say dumb stuff, hurt each other’s feelings, and don’t know the answer. By letting go of the need to be perfect, I became more effective. Group facilitation is now one of my favorite parts of the job.

This resource guide provides practical information and tools for group therapy for mental health practitioners.

Group Therapy Guidelines

Group therapy is an evidence-based treatment for substance use and mental disorders. An effective group calls for a skilled clinician to meet treatment standards. Professional associations, such as the American Group Psychotherapy Association, develop best practice guidelines based on scientific data and clinical research.


SAMHSA promotes research-based protocols and has published several group therapy guides for best practice, including TIP 41: Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy – Quick Guide for Clinicians, and Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy Inservice Training (a training manual), in addition to group workbooks/facilitator guides for anger management, stimulant use disorder, and serious mental illness.

Book Recommendations

Group Exercises for Addiction Counseling (2012) by Dr. Geri Miller

The book itself is small in size but packed with helpful information and creative ideas. As a new counselor lacking in clinical skills, I supplemented with activities to engage the clients. Group Exercises for Addiction Counseling never failed me.

250 Brief, Creative & Practical Art Therapy Techniques: A Guide for Clinicians and Clients (2019) by Susan I. Buchalter

A more recent discovery of mine. This guide provides detailed instructions accompanied by thought-provoking discussion questions for each intervention. I was impressed with both the quality and originality; an instant upgrade to “house-tree-person.”

For clinical group practice

(For additional resources for clinicians, see Resources for Mental Health Professionals and Must-Read Books for Therapists.)

Icebreakers & Teambuilding

You need only Google “icebreakers” and you’ll have a million to choose from. I’m not listing many, but they’re ones clients seem to enjoy the most.


Activity 1. My most highly recommended icebreaker activity involves passing out blank slips of paper to each group member and instructing them to write a “fun fact” about themselves, something no one else in the group would know. I provide them with examples (i.e. “I once had a pet lamb named Bluebell” or “I won a hotdog eating contest when I was 11 and then threw up all over the judges’ shoes”). Depending on the crowd, you may want to tell clients not to write anything they wouldn’t want their peers to know. (I adopted this guideline after a client wrote about “sharting” himself.) Once everyone has written something, have them fold their papers and place in a container of some sort (a gift box, paper bag, plastic bowl, etc.) Group members take turns passing around the container (one-at-a-time) and picking a slip to read aloud. They must then guess who wrote it. (I give three guesses; after that, I turn it over to the group.)

Activity 2: A similar but more structured activity is to write out questions ahead of time and have clients take turns drawing and answering the questions. Questions can be silly, thought-provoking, or intending to illicit a strong emotional response (depending on the audience and goals for the group).

Activity 3: “People Search” involves a list of traits, feats, talents, or experiences. Each client receives the list and is given x amount of time to find someone in the group who is a match; that individual will then sign off. The first person to have their list completely signed sits down; they win. I typically let clients continue to collect signatures until two additional people sit down. (Prizes optional, but always appreciated.) During the debriefing, it’s fun to learn more (and thereby increase understanding and compassion).

Activity 4: “First Impressions” works best with group members who don’t know each other well. It’s important for group members to know each other’s names (or wear name tags). Each group member has a sheet of paper with various “impressions” (i.e. judgments/stereotypes). For example, items on the list might be “Looks like an addict” and “Looks intelligent.” Clients write other group members’ names for each impression. In addition to enhancing a sense of community, this activity provides an avenue for discussing harmful stereotypes and stigma.

Activity 5: Affirmations groups can be powerful, generating unity and kindness. The effect seems to be more pronounced in gender-specific groups. There are a variety of ways to facilitate an affirmations group, ranging from each person providing an affirmation to the client on their right to individuals sharing a self-affirmation with the group to creating a self-affirmation painting. Another idea is to give each client a sheet of paper. (Consider using quality, brightly-colored paper/posterboard and providing markers, gel pens, etc.) Clients write their name on it and then all the papers are passed around so each group member has the opportunity to write on everyone else’s sheet. Once their original paper is returned to them, they can read and share with the group. This can lead to a powerful discussion about image, reputation, feeling fake, etc. (Plus, clients get to keep the papers!)

Activity 6: “Most Likely to Relapse/Least Likely to Relapse” works best with a well-formed group and may require extra staff support. It’s good for larger groups and can be highly effective in a therapeutic community. Clients receive blank pieces of paper and are tasked to write the names of who they think is most likely and least likely to relapse. After writing their own name on the sheet, they turn it in to staff (effectively allowing staff to maintain a safe and productive environment). Staff then read each sheet aloud (without naming who wrote it). If they choose, clients can share what they wrote and provide additional feedback. (Most do.) Clients selected as “most likely” (in either category) have the opportunity to process with other group members and staff.


Access group therapy worksheets and handouts here.

Links to Additional Group Activities

Psychoeducation & Process Groups

In need of fresh material? It can be easy to fall into a rut, especially if you’re burnout or working with a particularly challenging group. The following three PDF downloads are lists of ideas for group topics. I also included two links to sites with helpful suggestions.


As a group facilitator, consider incorporating some sort of experiential activity, quiz, handout, game, etc. into every session. For example, start with a check-in, review a handout, facilitate a discussion, take a 5-minute bathroom break, facilitate a role-play, and then close the group by summarizing and providing clients with the opportunity to share what they learned. If that’s not feasible, provide coffee or snacks; sitting for 45 minutes is difficult for some, and 90 minutes can be unbearable.

Another idea is to have a “fun” or “free” group in the curriculum. Ideas include going bowling, having a potluck, Starbucks run, game group (i.e. Catchphrase, Pictionary, etc.), escape room, nature walk, etc.


Dealing With Challenges

Clients are not always willing therapy participants; some are court-ordered to attend or there to have privileges restored. Some attendees may be there “voluntarily,” but only to save their marriage or keep a job, not believing they need help. In residential treatment, clients attend mandatory groups as part of the daily schedule — participate or you’re out.

Even when attendance is truly voluntary, a group member may be in a bad space. Maybe they’re stressed about the rent or just got into a fight with their significant other. Or what if the AC is broken and the group room is 80 degrees? What if a client has unpleasant body odor or bad breath or an annoying cough?

Multiple factors combine and it’s suddenly a sh**show. (I’ll never forget the client who climbed onto a chair to “rally the troops” against my tyranny.) Anticipating challenges is the first step to effectively preventing and managing them.


Click here for an excellent article from Counseling Today that addresses the concept of client resistance.

Tips for dealing with challenges

  1. If possible, co-facilitate. One clinician leads while the other observes. The observer remains attuned to the general “tone” of the group, i.e. facial expressions, body language, etc.
  2. Review the expectations at the beginning of every group. Ask clients to share the guidelines with each other (instead of you telling them). This promotes a collaborative spirit.
  3. After guidelines are reviewed, explain that while interrupting is discouraged, there may be times when you interject to maintain overall wellness and safety. (Knowing this, a client is less likely to get angry or feel disrespected when/if it happens.)
  4. If you must interrupt, apologize, and explain the rationale.
  5. Avoid power struggles at all costs, especially when a client challenges the benefits of treatment. (The unhealthier group members will quickly side with a challenger, leading to a complaint session.) Challenging the efficacy of treatment (or you as a clinician) is often a defense mechanism. Sometimes, the best response is simply “okay,” or none at all… and keep moving. You can also acknowledge the client’s perspective and ask to meet with them after group (and then get back on topic). If the group is relatively healthy, you may want to illicit feedback from other group members.
  6. If a client becomes angry or tearful, give them time to vent for a moment or two (don’t “Band-Aid”); they may be able to self-regulate. (If they do self-regulate, share your observations and offer praise.)
  7. If a client’s anger escalates to a disruptive level, ask them to take a break. At this point, their behavior is potentially triggering to other group members. Don’t raise your voice or ask them to calm down. Direct them step out and return when they’re ready. You may have to repeat yourself several times, but remain firm and calm, and they will eventually listen.
  8. If a client is disrespectful (cursing at you or another client, name-calling, insulting, etc.) while escalated, let them know it’s not okay, but don’t attempt to provide feedback. (A simple, “Hey, that’s not okay,” will suffice.) Bring it up with the client later when they’re able to process.
  9. Once the client who has been disrespectful leaves the room, acknowledge what happened and let the group know you will follow up with the client. If another client wants to talk about it, ask them to share only how it made them feel, but stress that it’s not okay to talk about an absent group member. (“How would you feel if we talked about you when you weren’t here?”) Strongly suggest that they wait until the person returns (and is open) to have a group discussion.
  10. After a major blow-up (and once everyone is calm), it can be beneficial for the group to process it with the person who escalated. Group members can empathize/relate, share their observations and/or how it made them feel, and offer feedback.
  11. If other disruptive behaviors occur in group (side conversations, snoring, etc.) address them in the moment (without shaming, of course). Point out the behavior and explain how it’s disruptive to the group. Refer back to the group guidelines. Ask group members to comment as well. If you let a behavior persist, hoping it will eventually stop, you’re sending the message that it’s okay, not only to the person who is disruptive, but to the entire group. This impacts the integrity of the group and opens things up for additional disruptive behaviors.
  12. For clients who monopolize, who are constantly joking, or who attempt to intentionally distract by changing the topic, point out your observations and encourage group members to give feedback.
  13. If, on the other hand, clients seem disengaged or unmotivated, seek out their feedback, privately or in the group, whichever is clinically appropriate.
  14. If there’s a general level of disengagement, bring it up in the group. Remain objective and state your observations.
  15. Anticipate that at times, people may not have much to say. (And while yes, there’s always something to talk about, that doesn’t mean someone is ready to or has the emotional energy to.) Maybe they’re distracted or tired or feeling “talked out.” It’s good to have backup plans: watch a psychoeducational film, take a walk in the park, listen to meditations or music, provide worksheets, education reading material, or coloring sheets.

Always keep in mind a client’s stage of change, their internal experiences (i.e. hearing voices, social anxiety, paranoia, physical pain, etc.), external circumstances (i.e. recent medication change, loss of housing, conflict with roommates, etc.), and history of trauma. What looks like resistance may be something else entirely.

Professional Group Therapy Associations

Academic Articles

Online Articles

Additional Links


Daily Self-Inventory for Mental Health Professionals

Regular self-evaluation is essential for mental health professionals. Use this daily assessment tool (downloadable PDF) to evaluate your ethical and self-care practices.

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

The 10th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggests taking daily self-inventory: “A continuous look at our assets and liabilities, and a real desire to learn and grow.” The founders of AA recommended that a person in recovery both “spot check” throughout the day in addition to taking a full inventory every evening, preferably a written one.

An honest self-evaluation can assess for resentment, anger, fear, jealousy, etc. According to the principles of AA, self-inventory promotes self-restraint and a sense of justice; it allows one to carefully examine their motives. Furthermore, it allows one to recognize unhealthy or ineffective speech/actions in order to visualize how they could have done better.

Similarly, for best practice, self-evaluation is essential for anyone who works in the mental health (MH) field. It doesn’t have to take place daily, or even weekly, but it’s a necessary measure for any active MH worker. If we don’t regularly examine our motives, professional interactions, and level of burnout, we could potentially cause harm to those we serve.

“As important as it is to have a plan for doing work, it is perhaps more important to have a plan for rest, relaxation, self-care, and sleep.”

Akiroq Brost

Much of the self-inventory I created is based on the 2014 ACA (American Counseling Association) Code of Ethics and related issues. According to the code, the fundamental principles of ethical behavior include the following:

  • Autonomy (self-sufficiency), or fostering the right to control the direction of one’s life;
  • Nonmaleficence, or avoiding actions that cause harm;
  • Beneficence, or working for the good of the individual and society by promoting mental health and well-being;
  • Justice (remaining just and impartial), or treating individuals equitably and fostering fairness and equality;
  • Fidelity (integrity), or honoring commitments and keeping promises, including fulfilling one’s responsibilities of trust in professional relationships; and
  • Veracity (genuineness), or dealing truthfully with individuals with whom counselors come into professional contact

The following is a format for MH professionals to evaluate both ethical and self-care practices. It’s meant to be used as a daily assessment tool.

Daily Self-Inventory for Mental Health Professionals

1. Did I cause harm (physical or emotional) today, intentionally or unintentionally, to self or others?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

2. If so, how, and what can I do to make amends and prevent reoccurrence?

3. Have I treated everyone I’ve come across with dignity and respect?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

4. If no, how did I mistreat others? What were my underlying thoughts/feelings/beliefs? How can I act differently in the future?

5. Have I imposed my personal values on a client (or clients) today?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

6. If so, which values, and what steps can I take to prevent this? (Note: professional counselors are to respect diversity and seek training when at risk of imposing personal values, especially when they’re inconsistent with the client’s goals.)

7. Currently, what are my personal biases and how can I overcome (or manage) them?

8. Have I done anything today that has not been in effort to foster client welfare (i.e. self-disclosure for self-fulfilling reasons)?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

9. If so, what were my motives and how can I improve on this?

10. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 the greatest), how genuine have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________

11. On a scale from 1-10, how transparent have I been with both colleagues and clients? ________

12. What specific, evidence-based counseling skills, tools, and techniques did I use today? Am I certain there is empirical evidence to support my practice? (If no, how will I remedy this?)

13. Have I practiced outside the boundaries of my professional competence (based on education, training, supervision, and experience) today?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

14. What have I done today to advance my knowledge of the counseling profession, including current issues, evidence-based practices, relevant research, etc.?

15. What have I done today to promote social justice?

16. Have I maintained professional boundaries with both colleagues and clients today?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

17. Did I protect client confidentially to my best ability today?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

18. To my best knowledge, am I adhering to my professional (and agency’s, if applicable) code of ethics?

❒ Yes                         ❒ No

19. On a scale from 1-10, what is my level of “burnout”? ________

20. What have I done for self-care today?

  • Self-Care Activities I’ve Engaged In:
    • ❒ Exercise
    • Healthy snacks/meals
    • ❒ Meditation
    • ❒ Adequate rest
    • ❒ Adequate water intake
    • ❒ Regular breaks throughout the workday
    • ❒ Positive self-talk
    • ❒ Consultation
    • ❒ Therapy
    • ❒ Other: ________________
    • ❒ Other: ________________
    • ❒ Other: ________________

Areas for Improvement:

Areas in Which I Excel:


Download a PDF version (free) of the self-evaluation below. This assessment can be printed, copied, and shared without the author’s permission, providing it’s not used for monetary gain. Please modify as needed.

Professional Development for Mental Health Professionals

20 professional development ideas for counselors, social workers, and other mental health clinicians

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Image by Jaime Lopes from Pixabay

Professional development encompasses all activities that provide or strengthen professional knowledge/skills. Ongoing professional development is a requirement for mental health practitioners in order to maintain competency and for keeping up-to-date on the latest research and evidence-based practices in an ever-changing field.

Listed below are several ideas for counselor professional development.


1 Find a mentor (and meet with them at least once a month).

2 Sign up for relevant e-mail lists. A few I find the most helpful/informative: Brain & Behavior Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and SAMHSA.

Image by lekoh from Pixabay

3 Become a member of a professional organization (i.e. American Counseling Association).

4 Keep up-to-date on the latest research. If you are a member of a professional organization, take advantage of your member benefits; you likely have access to a professional journal. You can also browse sites like ScienceDaily or use an app like Researcher.

5 Facilitate professional trainings or manage a booth at a conference.

6 Read counseling and psychology books (such as On Being a Therapist by Kottler or Mindsight by Siegel).

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

7 Practice awareness. Know your values, limitations, and personal biases.

8 Become familiar with local resources in your community.

9 Volunteer.

Image by willian_2000 from Pixabay

10 Join a professional counseling forum and participate in discussions. The ACA has several. You could also go the reddit route (i.e. r/psychotherapy).

11 Review your professional code of ethics on a regular basis. (Link to the ACA Code.)

12 Attend webinars, trainings, and conferences. Stay informed by subscribing to email lists, participating in professional forums, and searching Eventbrite for local events; search “mental health.” PESI is another source, but the seminars can be costly.

Image by difisher from Pixabay

13 Network/consult.

14 Subscribe to psychology magazines like Psychology Today or Psychotherapy Networker.

15 Further your education by taking classes or earning a certificate.

16 Pick a different counseling skill to strengthen each week. (You can even use flashcards to pick a new skill or simply review!)

17 Write an article or book (or book review!)

18 Take free online courses.

Image by RAEng_Publications from Pixabay

19 Listen to podcasts (like Therapy Chat or Counselor Toolbox).

20 Practice self-care on a regular basis to prevent burnout. Why is self-care included in a post on professional development? Because self-care is crucial for counselor wellness; a counselor experiencing burnout puts his/her clients at risk.


Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides

(Updated 9/22/20) A resource list for mental health professionals and consumers. Free PDF manuals/workbooks/guides for group and individual therapy or self-help purposes.

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

The following list is comprised of links to over 200 PDF workbooks, manuals, and guides that are published online and are free to use with clients and/or for self-help purposes. Some of the manuals, including Individual Resiliency Training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms, are evidence-based.

Please repost this and/or share with anyone you think could benefit from these free resources!


For free printable PDF workbooks for youth and family, see Resources for Providers Who Work with Children, Adolescents, & Families.

For additional free printable resources for mental illness, substance use disorders, and self-improvement, see Sites with Free Therapy Worksheets & Handouts and Free Printable Therapy Handouts & Worksheets.


Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides

For Mental Health Professionals & Consumers

Jump to a section below:

SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS & ADDICTION | Anxiety & Mood Disorders | Schizophrenia & Psychotic Disorders | OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE & hOARDING DISORDERS | Trauma & PTSD | Eating Disorders | Suicide & Self-Harm | Grief & Loss | Anger | | SELF-ESTEEM | HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS & COMMUNICATION | Meditation & Mindfulness | Resiliency, Personal Development, & Wellness | SELF-CARE | Nutrition & Exercise | CBT Manuals & Workbooks | DBT Manuals & Workbooks | Motivational Interviewing | Additional PRINTABLE PDF WORKBOOKS, MANUALS, & sELF-HELP Guides


Substance Use Disorders & Addiction

A collection of free printable PDF workbooks, manuals, toolkits/self-help guides for substance and behavioral (i.e. food, gambling, etc.) addictions and recovery

There are several SAMHSA workbooks listed below; you can find additional free publications on SAMHSA’s website. For printable fact sheets and brochures, go to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. If you’re looking for 12-step literature, many 12-step organizations post free reading materials, workbooks, and worksheets; don’t forget to check local chapters! (See 12-Step Recovery Groups for a comprehensive list of 12-step and related recovery support group sites.) Other great places to look for printable PDF resources for addiction include education/advocacy and professional membership organization sites. (Refer to the Links page on this site for an extensive list.)

  • 💜 = Resource for Veterans
  • 🏳️‍🌈 = LGBTQ Resource
  • 🟡 = Treatment Manual
  • 🟦 = Printable PDF Workbook

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Anxiety & Mood Disorders

Free printable PDF workbooks and other resources for anxiety (generalized, social phobia/anxiety, panic attacks), depressive and bipolar disorders, and prenatal/postpartum anxiety and depression

For additional PDF printable factsheets, brochures, and booklets, see SAMHSA, National Institute of Mental Health, NHS UK, CMHA, and education/advocacy sites listed on the Links page on this site.

  • 💜 = Resource for Veterans
  • 🟡 = Treatment Manual
  • 🟦 = Printable PDF Workbook
Anxiety Disorders
Depressive & Bipolar Disorders
Postpartum Anxiety & Depression

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Schizophrenia & Psychotic Disorders

A small collection of free printable PDF manuals, toolkits, and guides for schizophrenia spectrum and related disorders

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Obsessive-Compulsive & Hoarding Disorders

Free printable PDF workbooks, manuals, and guides for obsessive-compulsive, hoarding, and related disorders and issues

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Trauma & PTSD

Free printable PDF workbooks, manuals, and guides for trauma (including vicarious trauma) and PTSD

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Eating Disorders

Free printable PDF workbooks and toolkits/guides for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders

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Suicide & Self-Harm

Free printable PDF workbooks and toolkits/guide for suicide prevention and recovery and for non-suicidal self-injury

For additional resources for suicide, see Resources for Suicide Prevention & Recovery.

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Grief & Loss

Free printable PDF workbooks and toolkits/guides for grief and loss

For additional resources for grief and loss, see Resources for Grief & Loss.

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Anger

Free printable PDF workbooks, manuals, and guides for coping with anger

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Self-Esteem

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Healthy Relationships & Communication

🔝

Meditation & Mindfulness

🔝

Resiliency, Personal Development, & Wellness

Forgiveness
Sleep
Stress

🔝

Self-Care

Free printable PDF workbooks, toolkits, and guides for self-care

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Nutrition & ExercisE

Free printable PDF workbooks, manuals, and guides for diet, physical activity, and health

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CBT, DBT, & MI

The free printable PDF workbooks and other resources listed in this section may also be included in other sections of this post.

CBT Manuals & Workbooks

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DBT Manuals & Workbooks

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Motivational Interviewing

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Additional Free Printable PDF Workbooks, Manuals, & Self-Help Guides

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Please comment with links to additional PDF resources for therapy or self-help!

Free Online Education for Mental Health Professionals

(Updated 9/20/20) A list of online education courses and trainings for mental health clinicians (some offering free CEs!)

Compiled by Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Are you looking to expand your clinical knowledge or do you need CEs to renew your license? In-person workshops and seminars are ideal for learning up-to-date practices and the latest research, but they’re often expensive and/or require travel. And while there are plenty of online programs that offer CEs, most charge a fee.

The following list is comprised of over 50 sites that offer free online courses and webinars. Please note that only a few of the sites offer CEs. However, all of the courses offer opportunities to grow as a clinician and expand your knowledge.


Free Online Continuing Education

Free Online College Courses