APA – Continuing Education Standards
As part of their charter, the American Psychological Association has long taken it upon themselves to monitor and recommend ways in which mental health professionals can further their learning after graduation and even well into their practice. As part of this responsibility, they have the APA continuing education standards, which they call The Principles of Good Practice. These principles are there for professionals to look at as a guide to help them to learn in the best way possible and to teach others in this same way. When implemented correctly, it can lead to widespread advancement in the field of mental health.
One might ask what the purpose is behind the APA continuing education standards. They have answered this question thoroughly in their own literature. One of the main reasons behind it is to guide institutions of learning in developing curricula that can best model a furtherance of professional teaching post graduation. The institutions can use the standards to not only review their current training material, but to develop new material and classes that can be used by mental health professionals around the world.
One of the most important standards is the use of needs in developing new learning modules. Anyone in charge of developing articles, classes, or other programs should first examine whether or not there is justification for the program in the first place. This can be done in a variety of ways, but mostly it should involve a survey of the intended audience. This can not only serve as a determination of whether the program is necessary, but it can highlight the major needs of that audience. A new program can then be perfectly tailored to meet those needs.
Additionally, the APA continuing education standards call for precise learning outcomes to be written and examined before a new program is developed or put into use. The developers should ask themselves what it is they want their students to get out of the material. What are the main principles they should take away? Once this has been determined, they should examine those outcomes to make sure they are necessary or even important. If not, they should consider revising the material or doing away with the program altogether.
When it comes to any field, it is important to keep learning after graduation. Nowhere is this more true than in the mental health field. New research is being conducted every day, and new ways of learning are being perfected just as quickly. By keeping these new learning modules held to a standard, the APA can ensure that the learning is purposeful and effective.