5 FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL FOR ACCREDITATION OF COUNSELING AND RELATED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
- Setting Accreditation Standards
- The Accreditation Process
- Types of Programs and Accreditation Levels
- Information and Education
- Ongoing Program Review and Self-Study Reports
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) sets standards and reviews counseling and related educational programs, providing accreditation based on standards set by the organization, which is comprised of experienced counselors, educators and other professionals. The Council also provides continuing education and support to counseling students, educators and programs through newsletters, research publications, its website, and conferences. The five main functions of the organization are setting accreditation standards, providing accreditation for counseling programs, reviewing accredited programs, providing information and education for students and others, and providing ongoing review for programs that have been previously accredited.
Setting Accreditation Standards
According to the Council, applying for counseling program accreditation is “both a process and a status.” The organization provides accreditation to schools, primarily colleges and universities, which provide counseling education and degrees which meet state licensing requirements and federal standards for professional counseling and therapy. The Council’s Board sets and approves written standards that are meant to ensure educational excellence across the country. In addition, some international programs may also participate in the accreditation process and receive accreditation.
The Accreditation Process
Accreditation covers many different aspects of counseling program education, from the entry level to doctoral programs. There are two phases to the process: pre-accreditation, and accreditation itself. Programs must prepare for accreditation, including providing extensive written information about curriculum, coursework contents, internships and practicums, and faculty qualifications. Programs provide their information electronically, and also report on program outcomes as part of the process. Accreditation culminates in a site visit by the Council’s team members, who are all counseling professionals and educators. The Council’s Board then votes on the final result, deciding whether or not a program will be accredited, or have its previous accreditation renewed.
Types of Programs and Accreditation Levels
The Council provides accreditation to master’s-level counseling programs, including specialties in addictions, careers, clinical mental health, rehabilitation, college and student affairs, marriage, couple and family counselors, and school counseling. The organization also provides accreditation for doctoral programs for counselor education and supervision. Programs may be accredited for eight years, or may receive a two year accreditation with the opportunity to revise curriculum or meet any standards in which the accreditation team discovered minor problems.
Information and Education
The organization offers extensive information for counseling students and aspiring counselors that goes far beyond a directory of accredited counseling programs. The organization also provides research and reports affecting counseling and education. It also provides key performance indicators, also known as KPIs, on different programs, which will aid students to determine which accredited program is the best fit. Students can also access information on licensing, and career opportunities.
Ongoing Program Review and Self-Study Reports
Accreditation is a cycle and a process, not a one-time event. Counseling programs are accredited on an 8 year cycle, unless the program receives a two-year accreditation period due to minor deficiencies that it is expected to address during that period. Programs engage in extensive internal review and develop a Self-Study Report that explains in detail how it satisfies the Council’s policies and standards. The multi-stage review and site visits follow the Self-Study Report. Accredited programs receive ongoing assessment and accreditation every eight years.
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education provides accreditation for in-person and online master’s and doctoral level counseling programs. It offers its accreditation and education in the United States as well as internationally. The organization’s primary functions are review, accreditation, and education, supporting excellence in counseling professional education and training.
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