Professional Development for Counselors

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

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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.


Professional Development for Counselors

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.

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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).

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

8 Become familiar with local resources in your community.

9 Volunteer.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Free Online Education for Therapists

(Updated 1/19/21) A list of online education courses and trainings for mental health clinicians (some offering free CEs!)

Free online education
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Free Online Education for Mental Health Professionals

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

This is a list comprised of over 50 sites that provide free online education, including training courses and webinars, some offering CEs.

Please share this resource for free online education with anyone you think might benefit!

For additional resources for professional development, click here.


Free Online Training Courses and Webinars

  • 6-Module DBT Course | An educational course designed for professionals to learn the basic principles for the diagnosis and treatment of borderline personality disorder. There are six 20-minute modules.







  • Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Webinars for Professionals | Online learning on topics related to substance use and behavioral health
  • Health eKnowledge | Free online courses on a variety of topics including clinical supervision, substance use, and behavioral health. You must create a free account and login to access the courses.
  • Healthy Minds | A public television series on mental health (and ending stigma)
  • Honor Our Voices | A learning module that allows you to see domestic violence through the eyes and voices of children, includes a printable guide πŸ†•










  • VHA Train | Register for a free account to access on-demand trainings, some free CEs available for counselors and social workers πŸ†•

  • YMSM & LGBT | Archived webinars on topics related to treatment services for the lesbian, gay, and transgender population. You can also access a monthly webinar series held on the 4th Friday of each month. CEs offered


Free Online College Courses


Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP