As part of their development and support of the field of psychology, APA continuing education policy and materials are a primary force behind the organization. Like all fields, professional development is vital to the individual psychotherapist, just as it is to the field as a whole. A recent study showed that those organizations which offered more development and learning opportunities for their employees were much more likely to retain that workforce. This is as true in the social sciences as it is in any other field. Of course, the paradox is that when times are tough monetarily, these classes are often the first things to get cut.
For many in the APA, continuing education is one of the most important aspects of what a psychologist should be doing. To see organizations back out of providing these classes because of an economic downturn is unfortunate, they say. Naturally, professional growth and development must be viewed through the lens of investing for the future in order to be seen as vital to the survival of the field. To some degree, state requirements for licensing ensure that further learning remains part of the deal for practicing therapists. Still, there are some states with no such requirements. In those areas, it is often up to the individual or their employer whether they are compelled to take additional classes.
While psychology is not an exponentially changing field like technology, therapists put themselves at a stark disadvantage if they do not keep up with the latest changes in research and the best methods being promoted by the top minds in the field. Even the minimum requirements by the states (which are usually very basic) can do a lot for keeping a therapist abreast of what is happening in their field. Because treating patients is a science, a therapist harms their clientele by not being aware of the latest advances in that science. Some put themselves in the position where they are trying to toast bread with a blowtorch, when there is a perfectly good toaster for sale at the local hardware store.
APA continuing education classes and materials are designed to give even the busiest professional the tools and time they need to complete their credits. They offer classes in a variety of forms, giving the user the choice between web-based classes, DVD materials, book-based learning modules, and more. Of course, all of these materials are accredited and would count towards any CEU credit program.