Lifelong learning begins the moment you sign up to become a professionally qualified and licensed psychologist.
To maintain a license to practice, health and social care professionals of all kinds are required to participate in continuing education.
The goal of continuing education (CE) for psychologists is to maintain and develop existing competencies, remain abreast of the latest developments in evidence-based practice, and safeguard clients and service users by ensuring practitioners offer up-to-date clinical interventions.
In addition to discussing CE credits, in this article, we will introduce you to the best online continuing education courses offered by PositivePsychology.com that are accredited by both the American Psychological Association and International Coaching Federation.
But before you continue, we thought you might like to download these three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
CE credits are awarded upon successful completion of continuing education courses that contribute to the continuing professional development (CPD) portfolio required to maintain your license.
For psychologists, CE credits need to be awarded by education providers that are approved by the professional body that maintains licensing standards, professional ethics, and other regulations in the country where the psychologist practices.
Different professional bodies regulate the licensing of psychologists worldwide. These include the following:
All states require psychologists to partake in APA-accredited continuing education to maintain their license.
The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), like the APA in the United States, is the national professional membership body, while licensure is managed by regulatory bodies in each Canadian jurisdiction.
Each regulatory body requires psychologists to update their skills and knowledge regularly by acquiring APA- or CPA-accredited CE credits.
The Psychology Board of Australia is the professional membership body for Australian psychologists and also licenses psychologists to practice in Australia. Each psychologist is required to undertake 30 hours of continuing professional development per year to maintain their license annually. This can include CE credits.
Psychologists must get a practice certificate and registered membership to practice lawfully in New Zealand. CPD requirements are stated under the board’s code of ethics. Also, psychologists may be requested to undertake a competence review at any time for professional education purposes.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) is the professional membership body for UK psychologists of all kinds, while the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) licenses UK psychologists to practice under one of nine categories protected by law.
As BPS members practice in a range of professional contexts outside these nine categories, some may be regulated by other voluntary bodies for psychotherapists, counselors, or coaches.
All psychologists on the HCPC register must maintain an up-to-date CPD profile that can be randomly audited. Failure to do so can result in removal from the register.
Full-member associations of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations are listed per country. Each member state has their own regulatory body with licensing requirements specific to their country. Each regulatory body has different CPD requirements.
Other countries will have their own professional membership associations and licensing regulations, but some countries have no licensing regulations at all for psychologists (Azar, 2009).
Why Do Psychologists Need APA CE Credits?
Psychologists licensed to practice in the United States need APA CE credits to keep their knowledge base up to date and maintain their license. APA CE credits are also accepted in Canada.
However, the APA has a global reach, so it’s worth checking with your licensing authority to see if APA-approved CE credits can contribute to your professional development portfolio.
Given that the United States has stringent professional standards for psychologists, APA-approved CE credits are likely to meet your continuing education objectives regardless of your country of residence.
When researching which CE program best meets your needs, look out for the following:
Consider the type of knowledge or skills that will help you update or develop your existing competencies or add new ones that may be required by your licensing authority. Are there any emerging hot topics in your specialty that you should know about?
Check that the CE provider is accredited and/or recognized by your professional body, licensing authority, and employer.
Check that the instructors are properly qualified and registered practitioners in your field.
Check if the CE provider offers flexible delivery options, such as asynchronous online learning that you can fit around your existing commitments.
Look for reviews and evaluations of the continuing education course content and learning experience. How do these measure up to the instructors’ descriptions of the course?
Ensure that you will be awarded the required CE credits in time for the renewal of your license. Some CE providers may have set times they issue certification, and others may issue certificates on completion or shortly after.
7 Best Continuing Education Courses Online
In this section, we’ll introduce you to some of the best online continuing education courses for psychologists that satisfy the six conditions outlined above.
PositivePsychology.com offers a series of masterclasses that award APA-approved CE credits for psychologists and can be studied flexibly around your existing commitments.
Don’t worry if taking 42 credits at once is too much. You can also order a standalone masterclass from the series that aligns with your specific interests. Each will earn APA-approved CE credits to add to your CPD portfolio.
Each masterclass includes:
A practitioner handbook (e-book in epub, mobi, and pdf formats)
Community section to interact with fellow practitioners
Slide presentations for teaching and workshops
Workbooks of exercises for your clients or workshop participants (pdf)
Recommended books, articles, movies, videos, and quotes
Support & Ask the Instructor Anything
All masterclasses are taught by Hugo Alberts, PhD, a psychologist, researcher, and former professor of psychology at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. His fields of expertise are mindfulness, self-regulation, and positive psychology, and he has authored over 25 internal publications in academic journals and books on these topics.
Dr. Alberts has over 20 years of experience in teaching psychology to a diverse audience, including university students, researchers, and helping professionals. Since 2012, Hugo has focused on designing educational programs on positive psychology for students and helping professionals, which have been followed by over 10,000 learners.
His personal mission is to bridge the gap between science and practice and to assist helping professionals in serving their clients in the best possible way. This excellent selection of masterclasses results from this passion and dedication.
Now, let’s dive into each standalone masterclass in more detail.
Research shows that people with high emotional intelligence are better at managing stress, maintain more meaningful relationships, are more socially competent, and enjoy greater wellbeing (Carmeli et al., 2009).
If you are a psychologist interested in boosting your clients’ EI, this learning opportunity is for you. This masterclass provides a scientific definition of EI, addresses the different processes that underlie the construct, and includes many practical tools for increasing EI.
Motivation is essential to achieving goals and living a fulfilling life. However, we all have days when we feel more or less motivated than others. While some people live their life in line with a coherent vision of the future, others meander through life aimlessly.
Knowing how to set goals that are aligned with personal values is essential for maintaining motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Achieving goals that are intrinsically motivated by core values, needs, and interests enhances wellbeing and improves mental health.
Positive psychology is concerned with human flourishing based on positive characteristics and strengths.
A strengths-based approach to working with your clients involves focusing on what is going right in their lives and their positive traits, rather than merely attending to their problems and related psychopathology.
A strengths-based approach boosts clients’ self-efficacy and enhances their confidence by encouraging them to focus on what is going well for them rather than what is going wrong (Pulla, 2017).
This shift in focus further develops their strengths as resources for overcoming life challenges and solving day-to-day problems.
This continuing education course explores how clients attend to their strengths, the beliefs they hold about their strengths, motivation for using their strengths, and how to help regulate strengths and prevent their under-use or overuse.
You can learn how to apply a strengths-based approach to your work while earning eight APA-approved CE credits.
Christopher Peterson (2008), one of positive psychology’s most prestigious researchers, famously said, “Other people matter.”
With this quote, Peterson powerfully summarized decades of wellbeing research showing that social relationships are a key contributor to personal fulfillment and human flourishing.
Also, research has consistently shown that having a supportive network of healthy social relationships is a key contributor to resilience (Halford et al., 2018).
In this masterclass, you will learn the key characteristics of relationships that enhance wellbeing. It includes access to hands-on tools to help your clients discover and invest in social bonds that matter.
Learn how to help others build positive relationships and tap into the number one contributing factor to personal happiness.
Discover and apply the six pillars of positive relationships, a framework to help others make lasting behavioral change.
Add a powerful new toolkit to your professional skill set so that you can better help clients struggling with personal relationships.
In short, this masterclass is a complete science-based six-module CE program that equips you with all the knowledge, skills, and tools you’ll need to help your clients cultivate and maintain fulfilling social relationships. It also awards you eight APA-approved CE credits.
The masterclass explains the construct of resilience and the key skills and abilities that promote resilience. The course explores how the experience and interpretation of positive and negative events affect how we manage tough times.
By taking this masterclass, you will discover how resilience enhances wellbeing and contributes to improved mental health. You will also learn:
How to help other people bounce back from adverse life events
Resilience training methods to add to your professional skill set
How to develop your own workshop, training program, and treatment plan for clients
How to apply science-based resilience practices to your client work
Completion of this masterclass also awards you eight APA-approved CE credits to add to your professional development portfolio.
As a practicing psychologist, many of your clients will experience chronic low self-esteem and want to improve it.
However, the desire to boost self-esteem is one of the greatest threats to wellbeing.
Research findings consistently show that a healthier option than enhanced self-esteem is self-acceptance because the standards we associate with high self-esteem inevitably set the stage for failure (Chamberlain & Haaga, 2001). We simply cannot live up to such standards consistently, given the challenges, loss, and change that occur throughout life that we cannot control.
You don’t need to be a practicing psychologist to recognize that we currently have a global epidemic of depression, substance misuse, suicide, and burnout.
Loneliness, despair, and meaninglessness are pervasive.
If you want to help your clients who are struggling with these issues, then this masterclass is for you. The course examines the causes of this widespread “meaning crisis” and what you can do to help your clients cultivate a life worth living.
This masterclass examines the complex construct of meaning. It begins by defining meaning, different types of meaning, and how to make life more meaningful, before exploring the inherent link between values and meaning.
The course then defines values and discusses the importance of paying attention to values, beliefs about values, and the different types of motivation that uphold values. By pulling all these strands together, the course equips you with science-based methods for promoting value-congruent behavior in your clients.
Psychologists exercise a lot of power and responsibility in the lives of their clients. It is therefore crucial that psychologists continuously update their knowledge and skills to ensure their work remains evidence-based and to safeguard users of psychology services.
Continuing education courses are mandatory for most practicing psychologists to maintain their license and uphold professional standards. The APA-accredited online masterclasses offered by PositivePsychology.com will make a valuable contribution to any psychologist’s CPD portfolio, while fitting around existing commitments.
There are three types of continuing professional development (CPD), one of which is also called continuing professional education (CPE).
The types of CPD are:
Structured CPD: Active learning involving interactive and participation-based study (this is also called CPE)
Reflective CPD: Monitoring your strengths and weaknesses by reflecting on work experiences, for example, in supervision
Informal CPD: Self-directed learning like reading research papers
CPD focuses on developing existing skills, while CPE more often involves learning new ones or updating your knowledge.
What is a CPD credit point?
This typically refers to one hour of continuing professional development activity.
Are continuing education courses tax deductible?
Continuing education courses may be tax deductible depending on the country where you work. Check this with your local tax authority. However, tax relief is generally allowable when continuing education is required to maintain a license to practice and/or membership of a professional body.
Azar, B. (2009). International practitioners. gradPSYCH Magazine, 3, 38. Retrieved August 19, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2009/03/cover-abroad
Carmeli, A., Yitzhak‐Halevy, M. & Weisberg, J. (2009). The relationship between emotional intelligence and psychological wellbeing. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 66-78.
Chamberlain, J. M., & Haaga, D. A. F. (2001). Unconditional self-acceptance and psychological health. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 19, 163–176.
Halford, W. K., Pepping, C. A., & Petch, J. (2018). Promoting healthy relationships. In A. L. Vangelisti & D. Perlman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of personal relationships (2nd ed., pp. 579–590). Cambridge University Press.
Padmanabhanunni, A., Pretorius, T. B., & Khamisa, N. (2023). The role of resilience in the relationship between role stress and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study. BMC Psychology, 11(1), 45.
Peterson, C. (2008). Other people matter: Two examples. Psychology Today. Retrieved August 21, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-good-life/200806/other-people-matter-two-examples.
Pulla, V. (2017). Strengths-based approach in social work: A distinct ethical advantage. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 3(2), 97–114.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Press.
About the author
Jo Nash, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, and writing coach. Jo obtained her Ph.D. in Psychotherapy Studies from the University of Sheffield, where she was a Lecturer in Mental Health at the Faculty of Medicine for over a decade.
Today, Jo combines her passion for language with mindfulness skills when coaching writers to help them cultivate flow and optimize productivity. She is the creator of the ‘focused flow’ approach to writing coaching.