|Action||Requirement for CACREP accreditation for educational programs|
|Comment Period||Ends 7/1/2015|
I am writing to strongly oppose CACREP-only language in the proposed regulations for LPC’s in the Intended Regulatory Action in Virginia.
My message is not anti-CACREP but pro-inclusion. There are many fine programs across the country that for decades have been training licensed professional counselors to provide mental health services in accordance with state licensure regulations who choose not to pursue CACREP accreditation. This is due to CACREP’s restrictions on core faculty composition being only those holding counselor education degrees (yes, with some grandfathered exceptions) among other concerns. George Mason University is one such example in your own state.
If you look at the CACREP accredited programs in clinical mental health counseling, you will see that they are regionally situated with most states across the country have few or no such programs.
I have been a licensed mental health counselor since licensure was available in my state of Massachusetts. I have been active in our state chapter of MaMHCA, served on our state licensure board for 9 years, and have held clinical and supervisory positions in both mental health and higher ed settings. For the past 15 years, I have been a counselor educator and overseen field training for over 1500 students, and supervised our clinical supervision faculty. I think I understand a few things about counselor education.
In many of the discussions of inclusion vs. CACREP-only that have been occurring in various professional arenas in the past couple years, the debate often comes down to one of professional identity and historical turf wars between counselors versus counseling/clinical psychologists. I believe this drawing of the lines in the sand is ill-conceived and destructive to the provision of competent mental health services across there country.
Let me use my own state of Massachusetts as an example. I served on the subcommittee who updated our most recent licensure regulations that were just posted this month. This subcommittee chose to not include language re: CACREP standards (in full knowledge of recent events such as TRICARE). Massachusetts educational and field work standards have always met or exceeded CACREP standards.
In Massachusetts, there are 19 programs that train students to become licensed mental health counselors (our title for LPCs). Two of the programs are CACREP accredited, one has MCAC accreditation, one has MPAC, one has CORE. Couselor educators from a majority of these programs have been meeting once a semester for close to 2 decades for MARIACES (Massachusetts/Rhode Island Association of Counselor Education and Supervision) meetings. At MARIACES, we share a common bond as counselor educators and have consulted with each other on pedagogy, clinical expectations, licensure, dealing with impaired students, etc, etc. Despite the differences in programs, we all know that we are training mental health counselors to the strict standards of our state licensing board. We have no confusion about that professional identity and neither do our students. We would never consider inferring that one of our colleagues or their programs were not engaged in counselor education.
I know that there are many other programs across the country like the 19 in Massachusetts, whether they be in departments of education, counseling, counseling psychology, or behavioral health that know their mission to prepare competent masters level mental health counselors and that their students embrace this counselor identity and its standards of practice. The public is served by the breadth and depth of training that pro-inclusion of multi-disciplinary programs provide.
My perspective on the proposed regulatory change is shaped by the following rationale:
I urge the Commonwealth of Virginia NOT to approve this change in regulation. Rather, I strongly believe that Virginians will be best served by a diverse body of LPCs, and not only those with degrees from programs affiliated with CACREP.
Jill Ritchie, PhD, LMHC
Director of Field Training/Asst. Professor
Division of Counseling & Psychology
Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences