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Home arrow Education arrow A guide to graduate programs in counseling
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PROFESSIONAL ISSUES

If you want to become a professional counselor, you will need to understand counselor certification and licensure, be informed about national and state credentialing organizations, and know the ethical codes of your intended profession and the law. This may seem intimidating to you, but once you begin reading, it will be easier to understand. There is one more very important topic we need to cover: accreditation. The issue of accreditation for graduate counseling programs is addressed throughout the book; we believe that attending an accredited counseling program is important not only for your training but also for your future career choices.

Accreditation

According to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP, 2016a), accreditation refers to minimum standards or requirements educational programs must meet. Accreditation requirements are program specific, not department, college, or university specific. Accreditation standards influence decisions made on the student level, for example, course content and practicum experience, and on the faculty level, concerning issues such as course load and faculty qualifications. However, not all accreditation bodies are equal. Choosing a CACREP- accredited program ensures that you are attending a counseling program that has met the standards of the counseling profession, and the accreditor is itself recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Box 4.1

DIRECTORY OF ACCREDITED COUNSELING PROGRAMS

http://www.cacrep.org/directory/

Ifthe program is in the application process, you can verify it here: http: //www. cacrep.org/ programs-in-process /

CACREP is recognized as the gold standard for accreditation by the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), ACA, and other professional counseling organizations. CACREP provides accreditation for masters and doctoral programs in counseling, including its specialty areas (CACREP, 2016a). We recommend you revisit the list presented in chapter 3 of the specialty areas accredited by CACREP. You can search for up-to-date listings of accredited counseling programs by state on the CACREP website (see Box 4.1).

CACREP is the only accreditor for counseling programs to hold CHEA recognition. Nevertheless, you need to be careful if you intend to choose a CACREP-accredited program, because some universities state that they follow, reflect, are aligned with, or equivalent to CACREP. This is misleading. CACREP accreditation is a rigorous process (Bobby & Urofsky, 2009; CACREP, 2016a), and programs have to reapply to keep their accreditation. Therefore, you need to verify the program you are interested in is currently accredited.

You may see reference to CORE accreditation in some counseling program materials. The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is a specialized accreditation organization that accredits Rehabilitation Counseling programs (Council on Rehabilitation Education [CORE], 2015). In 2015 CACREP and CORE entered into a merger agreement wherein CACREP will be the sole accreditor of all counseling programs, including all rehabilitation counseling programs, beginningJuly 1, 2017 (Box 4.2). Again, attending an accredited program ensures that you are attending a graduate program that has met rigorous academic standards, and it ensures that you have received education that is consistent with the respective field of interest.

Ifyou want to be a National Certified Counselor (NCC), it is best to attend a CACREP-accredited program. As of 2022, only graduates of CACREP- accredited programs will be accepted for certification by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) (National Board for Certified Counselors [NBCC], 2014). Some states are also moving toward only accepting students coming from CACREP-accredited programs for counselor licensure. As discussed in chapter 3, CACREP accreditation is available for many

Box 4.2

VOICES FROM THE FIELD

The merger agreement between CORE and CACREP will change the landscape of the counseling field for years to come. As a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) for many years, I knew that I was more effective in each of those roles because of my dual training. Because of the merger, clients in a mental health setting will have a professional who not only understands their mental health needs, but also will be knowledgeable of how other physical disabilities may be impacting the client. The vocational rehabilitation client will have a professional who not only understands the implications and limitations of the client's physical disabilities but that professional will also understand and be able to provide therapy and help with teaching new coping skills which will improve the client's overall mental health. For many years professionals have understood the major connection between the physical health and mental health of an individual. (L. Massey, personal communication, June 1, 2015).

different types of counseling specialty areas. Although most state licensure boards currently recognize graduates of CACREP programs, attending a CACREP-accredited program does not mean you are guaranteed to be licensed; each state has different requirements for licensure, including an exam and postgraduate clinical hours (CACREP, 2016a).

Box 4.3

BENEFITS OF ATTENDING A CACREP PROGRAM

  • • Employer recognition of quality of preparation
  • • Higher standards of preparation
  • • Streamlined state counseling licensing application process
  • • Prepares you for the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and

Certification

• Allows you to sit for the National Counselor Examination prior to

graduation

  • • Access to federal and military job opportunities:
  • • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • • Army Substance Abuse Program
  • • TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselor
  • • Student research funding available
  • • Availability of membership in Chi Sigma Iota International Counseling

Honor Society

Box 4.4

VOICES FROM THE FIELD

I learned about CACREP by researching counseling programs. I believed CACREP programs would be held to a higher standard and better prepare me to begin my counseling career. I chose a CACREP program because I wanted to get the best education in counseling.

R. Dowda, personal communication, June 2,2015

 
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