|Action||Requirement for CACREP accreditation for educational programs|
|Comment Period||Ends 7/1/2015|
Dear Aid to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Ms. Judith Ahern,
I am the graduate of a counseling program in Pennsylvania at Arcadia University; I relocated to Virginia upon graduation for my spouse’s job. The program I graduated from is accredited by MPCAC and recently won the Pennsylvania Counseling Association Outstanding Counselor Education Award. I feel valued by my supervisor and feel I provide clients with essential evidence-based, trauma informed, and multiculturally sophisticated services.
I am joining counseling professionals from across the country to urge you to stop the proposed counselor licensing regulations that would require graduation from a CACREP-accredited program for licensure in Virginia. The majority of counselor training programs are not CACREP-accredited. This is a time of great need for mental health services, not a time to restrict licensure to a minority of graduates. This is also not a time to cede State licensing board authority to protect the public to an independent organization with no public oversight or accountability. A turf war between counselor educators and psychologists (the latter are restricted from teaching in CACREP programs) over counselor education and licensure does NOT serve the public good in any way.
If you look carefully at the data, you will notice that research does not indicate that counselors who have graduated from CACREP programs are more effective in their work with clients or in their service to their communities. There is also no evidence to support that counselors from CACREP-accredited programs are more ethical or more helpful to clients or the communities within which the counselors practice. Even the American Counseling Association (ACA), the largest national counseling association, opposes the CACREP-only restrictions highlighted in the rationale for this regulatory change.
The people of Virginia need a strong Board that continues to protect their rights to access readily available and quality mental health care. There are no other States where a licensing board has made such a decision, for many of the reasons stated above. A regulation limiting practice would not serve the people of Virginia well, as it would reduce the services available to Virginia residents; increase the cost of graduate education; and increase the difficulty for qualified counselors in relocating to Virginia—as many do, after graduating from rigorous MPCAC-accredited or unaffiliated programs. I urge you to stop this proposal and ensure that the people of Virginia will continue to rely on the strength of your licensing Board, and not on the unchecked agenda of an independent organization.
Jessica Trump, MA
Counselor in Residence
Bridge to Balance LLC, Gainesville VA