Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Negotiating CACREP Accreditation Practices, Religious Diversity, and Sexual Orientation Diversity: A Rejoinder to Sells and Hagedorn

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Negotiating CACREP Accreditation Practices, Religious Diversity, and Sexual Orientation Diversity: A Rejoinder to Sells and Hagedorn

Article excerpt

To begin our rejoinder, we would like to express our gratitude to Sells and Hagedorn (2016) for participating in this scholarly exchange of ideas. Our primary objective in writing the article, "Ethical Issues Raised by CACREP Accreditation of Programs Within Institutions That Disaffirm or Disallow Diverse Sexual Orientations," was to draw attention to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs' (CACREP) practice of accrediting programs that are "housed within institutions that disaffirm sexual minority identities and/or have policies and codes of conduct that disallow LGB [lesbian, gay, or bisexual] sexual expression" (Smith & Okech, 2016, p. 252). We intended to initiate dialogue on how the counseling profession negotiates the ethical issues raised by the practice of accrediting counseling programs that function within such colleges and universities. At the core of our article was a challenge to the counseling profession to engage in a critical examination of the ethical issues CACREP might be encountering in its pursuit of honoring both religious diversity and sexual orientation diversity in its accrediting practices. To facilitate focused dialogue, we asked three pertinent questions:

Question 1: Are the institutional codes of conduct that disaffirm or disallow sexual minority identity on religious grounds acts of discrimination?

Question 2: Do institutional policies influence counseling programs, and if so, how do CACREP-accredited counseling programs negotiate the stated doctrinal statements and codes of conduct advanced by the administration within their universities?

Question 3: How has CACREP negotiated the adherence to its own standards on diversity and multiculturalism when reviewing accreditation applications from counselor education programs located in religious institutions whose codes of conduct or policies disaffirm/disallow LGB identities? (Smith & Okech. 2016, p. 255)

Throughout our process of seeking to raise the field's awareness of this issue, we had hoped that multiple voices from diverse perspectives would have the opportunity to contribute. Thus, we are delighted that Richard S. Balkin, editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development, invited Sells and Hagedorn (2016) to join us in discussing this important issue. Sells and Hagedorn have provided a response to our article that we find in many ways to be thoughtful and generative while also significantly divergent from our own understanding on some key points. In our view, they made a good-faith effort in addressing Question 3, but Questions 1 and 2 remain underexamined. In this brief rejoinder, we highlight areas of common ground between Sells and Hagedorn's position and our own while also noting a few of the ideas and positions of their article from which we dissent. Our hope is to further complicate the field's collective thinking on these issues while fostering a dialogue on how our field may ethically honor both diverse religious and sexual orientation identities.

* Common Ground

Sells and Hagedorn (2016) began their response to our article (Smith & Okech, 2016) by calling for convicted civility: an engaged, collaborative, and civil approach to discussions such as this, which have the potential to be divisive. We wholeheartedly agree and would add that we invite all stakeholders to approach the ethical issues raised in this article with compassion and empathy toward those who may hold an opposing view from their own. Many persons who may seek to engage in the present discussion have experienced marginalization, prejudice, cruelty, and even trauma owing to their sexual minority status or their conservative Christian identity (Hyers & Hyers, 2008; Russell, Kosciw, Horn, & Saewyc, 2010). Adaptive fight/flight/ freeze responses are likely to be connected to this discussion (Van der Kolk, 1988), and as counselors, we encourage meeting such defenses with empathy. …

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