Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
Action Requirement for CACREP accreditation for educational programs
Comment Period Ends 7/1/2015
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6/8/15  8:50 pm
Commenter: Donna Gibson, LPC, Virginia Commonwealth University

Support CACREP-accreditation

I am very much in favor of a requirement for applicants to be graduates of CACREP-accredited counseor education programs.  I have taught in both non-CACREP and CACREP-accredited programs and understand some of the political differences at the higher education level.  From my observations and experience, CACREP-accredited faculty have more control over their programs and are able to advocate for the quality and standards of training in their programs.  Without this ability, higher education administrators can very well dictate the standards of training that affect the monetary return for the university/college.  For example, the 2016 CACREP standards will require programs to be at least 60 credit hours (which is already a Virginia licensure requirement for applicants).  If non-CACREP accredited programs/colleges/universities determine that this will be cost-probihitive for their students so they won't attract those students, then they will not follow this requirement.  This does the students a disservice in not providing them licensure-requirements within their program as well as training based on professional standards.  In the past, I have observed this with CACREP-accredited programs requiring 700 hours of clinical practice/internship and non-CACREP accredited programs requiring less (sometimes only 300 hours).

In addition to these issues, common training standards are mainly an issue of professional identity.  Professional counselors have been attempting to define their profession in a common way for the past 15 years.  Part of this effort was to gain traction with insurance panels for recognition that counselors are great service providers.  Up until recently, we were not recognized by Tricare who is the major health insurance provider for the military and veterans.  Like many other insurance companies, Tricare was waiting to see the "evidence" that we are effective.  This finally came through the efforts of the National Board of Certified Counselors, the American Counseling Association, and CACREP.  The evidence indicated that graduates from CACREP-accredited programs scored higher on the National Counselor Exam and other similar exams than non-CACREP-accredited programs.  This continues to be the case as I recently examined the results from our own VCU students compared to the national results as well as individuals from non-CACREP accredited programs.  This can speak volumes to these insurance panels.  I believe, that in Virginia, we want to not only have great LPCs but those that are trained well, are effective, and are recognized for reimbursement.  If this can occur, we can serve more clients in a variety of venues.

These are only a few of the reasons why I support this effort.  I look forward to this being effective and we are able to work together to provide effective practices for our clients in Virginia.

CommentID: 40134