Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Addiction Counseling Accreditation: CACREP's Role in Solidifying the Counseling Profession

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Addiction Counseling Accreditation: CACREP's Role in Solidifying the Counseling Profession

Article excerpt

In this article, the authors discuss CACREP's role in furthering the specialty of addiction counseling. After sharing a brief history and the role of counselor certification and licensure, the authors share the process whereby CACREP developed the first set of accreditation standards specific to addiction counseling.

Whereas counseling as a profession is relatively new (compared with the other helping professions of psychology, psychiatry, and social work), it has made great strides in a relatively short time. With the adoption of the 2009 (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) Standards, changes in professional identity, specialty areas of practice, core curricular standards, clinical field experiences and measures of student learning outcomes likely will have long-reaching impacts on promoting the development of the counseling profession. One significant change in the 2009 CACREP Standards was the creation and inclusion of a set of specialty standards related to addiction counseling. Whereas individual standards related to the practice of addiction counseling have been around for many years (e.g., those of the National Board for Certified Counselors' [NBCC] Master Addictions Counselor [MAC] certification), this is the first time that an accrediting body of the helping professions has both legitimized and standardized the preparation of counselors to work with clients struggling with addictive disorders. In this article, we explore the history of addiction counseling, as well as the development of the credentialing and certification processes related to addiction counseling. Next, we examine the need for educational standards related to addiction counseling and CACREP's role in the development of these standards. Finally, we will conclude with potential implications and directions for future research.

A Brief History of Addiction Counseling

The prevalence and impacts of addictive disorders are well documented and provide a context for the rationale for the creation of an addiction counseling specialty. In terms of those affected by addiction, 22.6 million individuals struggle with chemical abuse or dependency (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2007), 14 to 26 million individuals suffer from an eating disorder (also known as food addiction) (APA, 2000; Hudson, Hiripi, & Pope, 2007), 6 to 9 million struggle with compulsive gambling (also known as gambling addiction) (APA, 2000), 1 7 to 37 million Americans meet criteria for sexual addiction (Carnes, 2001; Cooper, Delmonico, & Burg, 2000), and 17 to 41 million people are addicted to the Internet (Kaltiala-Heino, Lintonen, & Rimpelä, 2004). In considering the lower end of each range of these disorders, it becomes apparent that approximately one in four Americans struggle with some kind of addictive disorder; this number fails to account for those impacted vicariously (i.e., through the addiction of a family member or close friend). Given the noted prevalence figures, it should come as no surprise that research has shown that addictive disorders, and complications related to these disorders, have devastating impacts on individuals, families, and society (French, Roebuck, McLellan, & Sindelar, 2000; Goodman, 2001; National Institute on Drug Abuse [NEDA], 2004; National Opinion Research Council [NORC], 1999; Young, 1999). In fact, when one tallies the estimated costs and losses attributed to addictive disorders in the form of health care costs, job productivity losses, crime and punishment, mental health care, impacts on the children and partners of addicts, and monies spent on the pursuit of drugs, alcohol, and other behaviors, one conservative estimate puts the annual total at $1.1 trillion dollars (Juhnke & Hagedorn, 2006). Without a group of specially trained counselors, untreated addictive disorders will continue to perpetuate costs that many are unable to pay.

Those individuals who emerged to address the aforementioned concerns did not initially matriculate from graduate programs in the helping professions. …

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