OBBHL Navigating Changes to CEU Approval Process

Posted By: Micah Perkins Licensure Board Updates ,

According to Oklahoma State Statute the Oklahoma Board of Behavioral Health Licensure consists of  four members who are licensed professional counselors, three members who are licensed family and marital therapists, two \members who are licensed behavioral practitioners, and two non-professional members who possess “knowledge of counseling issues”.

The statute goes on to give the board authorization to employ an Executive Director who, in turn, is authorized to employ office staff, enter into contracts on behalf of the board, and perform other duties on behalf of the board.

It is important to distinguish between “the board”, which consists of the eleven members and “the board office” which consists of the Executive Director and support staff.

Until recently the board office approved CEU requests submitted by workshop sponsors who applied to provide continuing education opportunities for Oklahoma Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. These included applications made for in-person, virtual, ethics, and required annual supervision CEU workshops.

To show that the CEU workshop was approved, a form was furnished to the sponsoring professional or agency, which could then be distributed to attendees.

 What was days is now months

During a regularly scheduled board meeting  on April 16, 2021 it was voted that the board office would no longer be responsible for approving continuing education requests.

Citing the burden on the board office support staff and the fact that none of the board office staff are licensed mental health professionals, the argument was made that the responsibility of approving CEUs would shift from the board office to the board itself.

In addition, the argument was made that, according to the board’s own rules, general in-person continuing education did not require board office approval as long as the training met the requirements posted on their website.  

Last, the board re-stated its rules that technology assisted, ethics, and supervision continuing education must be approved by the board in order for it to count toward continuing education.

With that vote, the process of a workshop sponsor submitting an application and having a workshop approved changed from taking a few days or weeks to now required those same CEU applications to be voted on during a board meeting- which occurs every two months.

In addition, the board office no longer notifies the applicant if their workshop has been approved. Now, the applicant must look for his or her workshop on the board approved list found on the Oklahoma Board of Behavioral Health Licensure’s website. This list is updated a few days after the board has voted.

 …but is the list accurate?

With rising concerns about COVID-19 and key office staff scheduled to leave the board office a vote was made during a special board meeting on March 24, 2020.  Board chair Kelly Collins made a motion to “suspend the approval of any new CEU applications, pending further discussion and review by the Board, and to allow any previously approved CEU’s to automatically be approved for face-to-face and technology-assisted.” The motion was approved unanimously by the board members.

With this vote the Oklahoma Counseling Institute and other CEU providers moved to meet LPC and LMFT CEU needs while keeping attendees safe from COVID-19 by changing their previously approved in-person workshops to virtual workshops.

Despite this vote, OCI’s and other CEU provider’s approved workshops conducted virtually before July 1 2021 is, as of this publishing, not included on the most recent OBBHL list. This writer emailed the OBBHL on October 10,2021 informing the board office of the error. As of the date of publishing, OCI has not received a response from the board office. However, OCI is confident that the issue will be resolved.

OCI attendees who attended an OCI virtual or in-person workshop prior to July 1, 2021 that is not listed on the OBBHL list can rest assured that OCI will take action, if needed, to ensure that the CEUs are honored by the OBBHL board office.  

Approved, but on a time-limit

During the past two board meetings on August 13, 2021 and October 8, 2021 the board has been presented a long list of technology assisted, ethics, and supervision courses to vote to approve.

The list provided by the board office reportedly consists of scant information containing the workshop title, sponsoring agency or presenter name, and little else.

Board members have expressed their discomforting of voting to approve a course based on such little information.

To buffer their discomfort the board  voted on August 13,2021 and October 8, 2021  to approve the virtual, ethics, and supervision workshops but only until December 31, 2021.

To date, a plan has not been discussed on what will happen after the board’s approval of these courses lapses on December 31, 2021.

What does all of this mean for the LPC and LMFT counselor who is just wanting to get their CEUs?

In summary, if you wish to attend a general, in-person, continuing education workshop, you may be confident that it will count toward your CEUs as long as it meets the criteria here . The workshop does not need to have OBBHL pre-approval. OCI ensures that all of it’s in-person and virtual workshops meet this criteria.

If you wish to attend a virtual CEU workshop it must be listed as pre-approved on the OBBHL website found here. Workshops, even if conducted by large state associations or national venders, according to the board will not count unless it is voted on by the board and listed on this list. Currently ODAPCA’s recent virtual Fall Conference conducted on October 7-8, 2021 is noticeably absent from the list- presenting a potential inconvenience for a professional with a duel licensed of LPC or LMFT and LADC.   Update- On 12/18/2021 we were contacted by an OCI member who stated that he had emailed both the OBBHL and the OBLADC and was told that the Fall ODAPCA workshop was approved for CEUs by the OBBHL. We verified that the Fall ODAPCA virtual conference has now been added to the list of approved virtual workshops. The addition to the approved list occurred sometime in December 2021, presumably after the OBBHL board meeting on December 3, 2021. 

If you wish to attend an ethics or supervision workshop regardless of if it is virtual or in-person, it must be voted on by the board and listed on the OBBHL approved workshop list.

…but watch out for December 31, 2021

To date, approval of the virtual workshops voted on during the last two board meetings and listed on the OBBHL list will lapse December 31, 2021. So, if you wish to attend a virtual workshop do so before December 31, 2021. In addition, December 31, 2021 is the last day the OBBHL has approved for all virtual workshops to count as in-person CEUs.

OBBHL Executive Director instructed to consult with the OBLADC and OSBLSW

In the most recent board meeting on October 8,2021 the board asked Mr. Ashmore to contact the Oklahoma State Board of Social Work and the Oklahoma Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors to inquire about their processes of approving continuing education courses. Specifically, the board wishes to investigate the possibility of establishing a continuing education provider model similar to the other two boards. He is expected to report back to the board during their December 3,2021 board meeting.

With the board being in an information gathering phase, it is unclear when a new CEU approval process will be in place. CEU providers should note that the next OBBHL meeting is scheduled for December 3, 2021. With the new processes in place, no CEU applications will be approved prior to the next board meeting.

Update- During the December 3, 2021 OBBHL board meeting the board reversed it's decision that virtual workshops voted on during the August 2021 and October 2021 board meetings would no longer be approved after December 31, 2021. These workshops are now approved.