Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

CACREP Accreditation: A Solution to License Portability and Counselor Identity Problems

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

CACREP Accreditation: A Solution to License Portability and Counselor Identity Problems

Article excerpt

Over the past 3 decades, counseling leaders have expressed ongoing concern about counselor identity, licensure, portability, and the future of the profession (Altekruse, 1994; Gale & Austin, 2003; Gibson, Dollarhide, & Moss, 2010; Hanna & Bemak, 1997; Hansen, 2005; Maples, Altekruse, & Testa, 1993; Martin & Cannon, 2010; Mellin, Hunt, & Nichols, 2011; Myers, Sweeney, & White, 2002; Swickert, 1997; 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling [herein referred to as 20/20], 2010). Many authors have advised that associations, accrediting organizations, and credentialing bodies, including the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), American Counseling Association (ACA), Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), work together to promote unity of the profession. Some cautioned that unless counselors clearly define their profession, it might be defined by counseling psychologists and other professional groups.

Gale and Austin (2003) addressed the same unresolved issues of "training, specialization, professional affiliation and credentialing" (p. 3) that continue to cycle through the profession and in counseling literature with little resolution. Interviews of 22 leaders, primarily former ACA presidents and organizational directors, revealed agreement about what they perceived to be the most important licensing issue(s) facing the counseling profession. In rank order the issues were (a) counselor identity, (b) portability, (c) variance in state licensing requirements, (d) psychologists' attempts to restrict diagnosis and testing in counselor practice, and (e) use of certified clinical supervisors (Mascari, 2004). The counseling profession continues to struggle with these issues, which affect the overall profession and hinder progress toward nationwide licensing portability.

With 50 states licensing counselors, the confluence of three forces is strengthening the identity of the profession: 20/20, the 2009 CACREP Standards, and the quest by AASCB to establish license portability. This article provides a historical context of the counseling profession's struggles to establish license portability and the important role common standards and clearer identity can play in resolving portability. Although school counselors and rehabilitation counselors are significant members of the counseling profession and are affected by these issues, this article focuses on licensed professional counselors (LPCs) and state counselor licensing boards. The experience of one state (New Jersey) is used as an example of the current challenges that standards and accreditation create for licensing boards. The article also examines the critical relationship of the CACREP standards to training, licensing, license portability of professional counselors, the impact of TRICARE, and deterrents to seeking accreditation.

* The Question of Professional Identity

Numerous counselor professional identity initiatives were attempted before the 20/20 initiative. In 1998, the Chi Sigma Iota Counselor Advocacy Leadership Conferences identified six related themes, with the first theme's goal addressing counselor identity, "To insure that all counselor education students graduate with a clear identity and sense of pride as professional counselors" (Chi Sigma Iota, 1998, Theme A). In 2007, all 30 delegates to the 20/20 summit agreed to the document Consensus Issues for Advancing the Future of the Profession (as cited in Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). Principle I underscored the need for professional and program identity based on unifying preparation standards of CACREP and the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). A consensus issue supporting Principle I.3. pointed to the essential role of common standards: "Counselor education programs should reflect a philosophy that unifies professional counselors who share a body of core knowledge and skills" (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011, p. …

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