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Department of Veteran’s Affairs recognizes CACREP Graduates

03/04/2013

Department of Veterans Affairs Recognizes CACREP Program Graduates!

10.08.10

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued qualification standards formally recognizing licensed professional counselors as mental health specialists within the Veterans Health Administration. The standards, released internally to VA staff late on September 28th, and available online at http://www1.va.gov/vapubs/viewPublication.asp?Pub_ID=507&FType=2, are the culmination of years of work by ACA, the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) to open up mental health provider jobs within the VA to professional counselors. This is a landmark step forward for the counseling profession as well as an important means of expanding the pool of mental health service providers available to meet the large unmet treatment needs of our nation’s veterans.

The regulations require counselors to have a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Examples of related mental health counseling fields include, but are not limited to addiction counseling; community counseling; gerontology counseling; marital, couple, and family counseling; and marriage and family therapy.

This is a momentous development for the professionalization of the counseling profession.  CACREP’s standard of quality has been recognized once again by the federal government as the best way to ensure high quality counselors in practice.  Recognition of your efforts as a program to obtain and maintain the CACREP standards are a large part of this decision.  The formal recognition is a tangible benefit to your students and graduates of their investment in a quality educational program.  

ACA, NBCC, and AMHCA are continuing to work with the VA on implementation of the new position descriptions and their use by VA facilities, as well as on obtaining the adoption of the standards by the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for their use throughout the federal government.   ACA has publicly stated that they will work to ensure that the regulations should be broadened to be more inclusive and not require graduation from a CACREP program.  If you believe that the best way of ensuring the quality of Mental Health Counselors serving veterans is to maintain the CACREP requirement, please e-mail ACA at the address below.