Academic journal article Journal of Human Services

Perceptions of the HS-BCP Credential: A Survey of Human Service Professionals

Academic journal article Journal of Human Services

Perceptions of the HS-BCP Credential: A Survey of Human Service Professionals

Article excerpt

Perceptions of the HS-BCP Credential: A Survey of Human Service Professionals

The role of the human service professional was first defined during the 1960s when the field was established (McPheeters, 1990; Neukrug, 2013). As then, today's human service professionals tend be associate or bachelor-level practitioners who are trained as generalists, which is defined as a human service professional who has "interdisciplinary knowledge, who can take on a wide range of roles and often works side by side with a number of other professionals"(Neukrug, 2013, p. 3). Over the past fifty years, to establish the field as a profession, educators and practitioners involved in human service work founded a national organization, developed accreditation standards, created an ethics code, founded a journal, developed master's and doctoral programs, and most recently, developed a credential--the Human Service Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) (Haynes & Sweitzer, 2005; Hinkle & O'Brien, 2010; Kincaid & Andresen, 2010; Wark, 2010).

The journey towards credentialing was not easy but was necessary if the human service professional was to gain recognition and respect within mental health professions. In fact, a review of literature suggests that over the years many have used such words as "assistant" to describe human service professionals and tended to view them as second-rate when compared to counselors, social workers, and psychologists (Evenson & Holloway, 2003). The credentialing process was aimed at solidifying a professional identity, developing an increased professional look for human service professionals, and increasing the status of the human service professional as compared to related mental health professionals (Milliken & Neukrug, 2010). Hinkle and Obrien (2010) suggest that "the overreaching goal [of credentialing] was to create a certification program that would provide quality, value, and integrity for practitioners, their employers, and consumers of human services" (p. 24).

The HS-BCP was established in 2008 as a joint effort between the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS), the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), and the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) (Hinkle & Obrien, 2010). Having had a history of developing other professional credentials, CCE was seen as pivotal to the development of a credential as it had the professional knowledge to craft a certification that would be valued by a wide range of professionals, and because the organization was specifically created "for assistance with credentialing, assessment, and management services" (CCE, n.d.a, para. 4). To steer the development of the credential, a certification program development committee was established that included members from NOHS, CSHSE, and CCE. Ultimately, this committee decided that the criteria for credentialing would include education, experience, assessment, ethics, and continuing education (Hinkle & O'Brien, 2010).

Relative to education, it was decided that any individual with a technical certificate through a master's degree in human services, or a closely related degree (i.e., counseling, social work, marriage and family counseling, or criminal justice), could sit for the exam (Hinkle & O'Brien, 2010). In addition, individuals with related degrees could sit for the exam if they had taken 15 credits in specified coursework. Today, this includes three or more courses in the 11 content areas assessed on the exam "including at least two semester hours (three quarter hours) in ethics in the helping professions, two semester hours (three quarter hours) in interviewing and intervention skills, and two semester hours (three quarter hours) in case management" (CCE, 2013, p. 3). For experience, the number of years of post-degree experience varied considerably as a function of the level of degree; those with a technical degree needing five years of experience while those with a master's degree needing only one year of experience. …

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