Introduction to the 2016 CACREP Standards
CACREP accreditation is both a process and a status. Institutional application for CACREP accreditation denotes a commitment to program excellence. The accreditation process incorporates programs’ self-assessment along with external review to determine if and how program standards are being met. Accredited status indicates to the public at large that a program is fulfilling its commitment to educational quality.
The 2016 CACREP Standards were written with the intention to simplify and clarify the accreditation requirements. An intentional effort was made to avoid redundancy and confusing language. The lack of multiple references to any particular content area was not meant to discount the importance of any of those content areas. At minimum, programs must address all required content, but they may choose the level of emphasis placed on each content area.
The 2016 CACREP Standards were also written with the intent to promote a unified counseling profession. Requirements are meant to ensure that students graduate with a strong professional counselor identity and with opportunities for specialization in one or more areas. The Standards require that graduates demonstrate both knowledge and skill across the curriculum as well as professional dispositions.
Although the 2016 CACREP Standards delineate accreditation requirements, they do not dictate the manner in which programs may choose to meet standards. Program innovation is encouraged in meeting both the intent and spirit of the 2016 CACREP Standards. Program faculty and reviewers should understand that counselor education programs can meet the accreditation requirements in a variety of ways. Providing evidence of meeting or exceeding the standards is the responsibility of the program.
Graduates of CACREP-accredited programs are prepared for careers in mental health, human services, education, private practice, government, military, business, and industry. Entry-level program graduates are prepared as counseling practitioners, and for respective credentials (e.g., licensure, certification) in their specialty area. Doctoral-level graduates are prepared for counselor education, supervision, and practice.
The 2016 CACREP Standards are organized into six sections. Section 1, The Learning Environment, includes standards pertaining to the institution, the academic unit, and program faculty and staff. Section 2, Professional Counseling Identity, includes foundational standards and the counseling curriculum, comprising the eight required core content areas. Section 3, Professional Practice, refers to standards required for entry-level practice, practicum, internship, supervisor qualifications, and practicum and internship course loads. Section 4, Evaluation in the Program, provides standards relevant to evaluation of the program, assessment of students, and evaluation of faculty and site supervisors. Section 5, Entry-Level Specialty Areas, provides standards relevant to specialty areas offered by the program. These include addictions; career; clinical mental health; clinical rehabilitation; college counseling and student affairs; marriage, couple, and family; and school counseling. For each specialty area, standards pertaining to foundations, contextual dimensions and practice are provided. Section 6 contains the Doctoral Standards for Counselor Education and Supervision, including learning environment, professional identity, and doctoral-level practicum and internship requirements. In addition to the 2016 Standards, a Glossary, defining key terms within the 2016 CACREP Standards document is available.