Staying The Course
In the last issue of the CACREP Connection, I identified the three strategic initiatives guiding the work of CACREP. This column will include a progress update on these initiatives, as well as a discussion on the onus of being the standard bearer for counselor education and the ways in which CACREP promotes professional identity and works toward unifying the profession.
Progress on the strategic initiatives
CACREP continues its strategic agenda while monitoring the political, economic, and professional changes that will impact what and how CACREP does its work. In the last six months CACREP has engaged in the following activities related to its strategic initiatives.
Increase CACREP’s role in Advocacy/Owning the Brand both in the USA and globally:
At the 2013 conference of the American Association of State Counseling Board, CACREP and the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) presented jointly on the benefits of graduation from a CACREP program and why states might move to making it a requirement for licensure. Benefits include fewer sanctions for ethical misconduct (Even, 2012), facilitating licensure portability, and having a singular counselor preparation standard for the protection of the public. It is worth noting that currently four states are considering graduation from a CACREP program as the academic requirement for licensure and have sought information from CACREP.
Refine growth strategy for recruitment of programs both domestic and globally:
To counter the misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding CACREP standards and processes domestically, CACREP presented a myth busting session at each of the ACES regional meetings this past fall. On the global front, IRCEP continues present its vision of offering an international registry through presenting and participating in international conferences, creating its first e-newsletter, and engaging international students in its activities.
Secure support to achieve diversified and stable revenues and to attain financial independence and self-reliance:
While CACREP currently relies primarily on revenue from our accreditation and annual maintenance fees and training workshops, the Board has begun to identify alternate revenue streams by looking at services and resource materials desired by our constituents.
Onus of being the standard bearer
For 30 years CACREP has been steadfast in developing and revising counselor preparation standards to meet the changing needs and demands within the counseling profession and society at large. The rigor of CACREP’s standards development and revision processes, which include extensive opportunities for input from stakeholders, has earned external recognition of CACREP by state licensing boards, the majority of which require the CACREP curricula as the guide for meeting academic requirements for licensure and by the highly respected Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent non-profit organization that advises policy makers. While the recognition by state licensing boards and the IOM increases the CACREP’s stature, it also mandates that the rigor of the standards and of CACREP’s review processes be maintained. CACREP takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public and believes that to do this requires that counselors must have clear and strong professional identities. CACREP’s unwavering position on the importance of professional identity has engendered public scrutiny and challenges.
Increased public awareness of mental health issues and political decisions, such as the recent withdrawals of troops from war zones, also requires CACREP to be conscientious in its standards revision process. Do the core curricular standards include the requisite knowledge areas and skill-sets for the populations seeking counseling services? Are our current specializations adequate given the social and political changes? Do we need to consider the inclusion of new knowledge areas and specialty preparation?
Opportunities for promoting professional identity and unifying the profession
CACREP has been consistent in its position of recognizing that the scope and practice of counselors vary, thus, necessitating a core as well as specialization knowledge-bases and skill-sets depending on the populations served and work-settings. The hallmark of the 2009 CACREP Standards is the fostering of a counseling professional identity in graduates of accredited programs by faculty and supervisors who themselves hold a counseling professional identity. Bobby and Urofsky (2011) speak to opportunities that counselor training programs can make available to students in fostering this identity. Davis and Gressard (2011) delineate how specific CACREP standards promote professional identity taking into account the developmental stage of the counseling profession. Counseling professional organizations are doing their part too.
CACREP continues to collaborate with counseling professional organizations that share the belief and value of having a counseling professional identity and seek to unify the counseling profession. Professional organizations like the American Counseling Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and Chi Sigma Iota are working with CACREP on specific projects designed to enhance and highlight professional identity.
It is becoming clearer that being a CACREP-accredited program is significant for programs because:
- CACREP is the only accrediting agency in the Counseling profession accepted as a hiring credential by the federal government.
- CACREP programs prepare graduates for passing demanding licensure exams.
- CACREP accreditation increases the employment opportunities for graduates seeking employment in federal agencies such as the VA or TRICARE health systems.
- CACREP enhances the portability of credentials for graduates who must relocate.
- CACREP assists programs in recruiting qualified graduate students.
While the Board and staff of CACREP are diligent and vigilant in implementing a high quality standards-setting process that insures the relevancy of counselor preparation, we cannot do it alone. CACREP welcomes participation from faculty and students in our accredited programs in achieving our strategic initiatives in the best interest of the counseling profession. If you are ready and willing to be involved, please call the CACREP office and be an advocate for the counseling profession.
Bobby, C. & Urofsky (2011). Counseling students deserve a strong professional identity. Counseling Today, May, 52-53.
Davis, T. & Gressard, C. (2011). Professional identity and the 2009 CACREP standards. Counseling Today, August, 46-47.
Even. T. (2012). Making the case for CACREP curriculum standards. Counseling Today, May, 64-65.