New Requirement for California Clinicians: Suicide Risk, Assessment, and Intervention Training

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Each day, approximately 86 Americans will die by suicide. In the United States, around 45,000 deaths occur each year as a result of suicide, and nearly 575,000 people are treated in U.S. emergency room departments for self-inflicted injuries (CDC, 2015).

As a clinician, you know the real danger that many clients face with suicidal ideations and attempts. The state of California realizes the need to ensure that clinicians receive training in risk, assessment, and intervention.

A new law that goes into effect January 1, 2020, will require a new CEU completion for all clinicians. Whether you are currently in the licensure process or are already licensed, you need to know about the new law. Here are the details to help you plan for the upcoming changes.

Who is required to complete the CEU?

The California Board of Psychology and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences outlines the legal requirements for CEU completion. These requirements are located on their websites and viewable for the public.

All applicants for licensure as well as those currently licensed as a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, educational psychologist or professional clinical counselor in the state of California.

What are the requirements of the CEU?

Under this new state law, there is a one-time requirement for licensees to attest to compliance with a minimum of six hours of training in Suicide Prevention, Assessment, and Intervention. Clinicians do not have to wait until the January 1, 2020 date. Any CEU training taken before the date above will be applied to the requirement.

Although licensees must attest to compliance with the six hours requirement upon the first renewal after January 1, 2010, if satisfying the requirement by taking a qualifying CE course, the course may be taken at any time prior to the application for that renewal, and the course may be applied to the continuing education requirements in the renewal cycle during which the course was taken.

Why is this requirement necessary for clinicians?

Even though you may already be assessing each client for suicidal ideations and thoughts, this requirement allows you the opportunity to improve your clinical skills. The requirement of additional training helps bring the discussion about suicide to the forefront in clinical work.

It gives you an opportunity to discuss signs, risks, and education to clients who you might not regularly assess. The new requirements show the dedication of the state of California to elevate the conversation and hopefully prevent future suicide completions.

As alarming as these statistics are, it is likely that suicide rates are even higher – many suicides are under-reported due to the negative stigmatization (CDC, 2012). You have the power as a clinician to help your clients identify risk, assess, and intervene to ensure safety. You know the importance of keeping your license in good order, so don’t wait to meet this requirement.