Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

International Registry of Counsellor Education Programs: CACREP's Contribution to the Development of Counseling as a Global Profession

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

International Registry of Counsellor Education Programs: CACREP's Contribution to the Development of Counseling as a Global Profession

Article excerpt

The world is flat are words made famous by Thomas Friedman (2005) in his extraordinary book by the same title. Friedman used the word flat to mean connected. Billions of people across the globe are connected because of advances in technology, travel, and the lowering of trade and political barriers. It is an exciting new world with important implications for how people live and interact with one another. What are the challenges of this connectedness for the counseling profession in the United States?

In this article, I discuss some of the challenges of international connectedness and how the counseling profession has responded to these challenges. I also trace the history of the development of the International Registry for Counsellor Education Programs (IRCEP). IRCEP is an international registry created by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in response to numerous inquiries and requests for a quality assurance process for counselor education programs operating outside of the United States. The following discusses the challenges encountered by U.S. counselors and professional counseling organizations as they engage in the promotion of the profession globally.

Challenges

Counseling in the United States is more developed as a profession than it is in many other parts of the world. Over the past century, counseling in the United States has moved from being an ill-defined profession, difficult to distinguish from other helping professions, to being one with a defined and distinguishable professional identity. Counseling has developed the essential criteria of a profession including professional associations, codes of ethics and standards of practice, accreditation agencies to provide oversight of counselor education, and licensure and certification of practitioners (Gale & Austen, 2003). The profession has moved beyond defining itself in terms of who we are not or who we are like to a definition based on shared values, skills, education, and contributions to society.

To promote the continued development of a clear professional identity, in 2005, the American Counseling Association (ACA), in collaboration with the American Association of State Counseling Boards, established the work group 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling. This work group involved all 30 professional counseling organizations, including all ACA divisions and regions. Members of the 20/20 work group developed principles for unifying and strengthening the profession. The principles developed by the 20/20 Workgroup have been endorsed by 29 of the 30 counseling organizations (ACA, 201 I; Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). At the 2010 ACA Conference, delegates of the 20/20 work group agreed on the following definition of counseling: "Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals" (20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling, 2010, para. 2).

The 20/20 definition is representative of the efforts of U.S. counseling organizations to come to a common definition of counseling, but how do (or does) the concept of professional identity and the 20/20 definition transcend international boundaries? Despite great efforts toward inclusivity and strides in multicultural education within the profession in the last 50 years, counseling in the United States remains a culturally encapsulated discipline. Every word in the 20/20 work group definition is culturally bound. For example, whose definition is used for "professional relationship"? What constitutes a family? How is mental health or wellness defined?

These questions do not mean that the definition should be discarded but rather that there is the need to examine such definitions for their relevance within other cultural contexts. Specifically, it requires that the definition be deconstructed in the context of the culture in which counseling services are provided. …

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