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Stephens M.Ed. in Counseling Program seeks ‘gold standard’ CACREP accreditation, adds new Addictions Counseling track

May 31, 2017

For those interested in a career as a counselor, there’s no better time to take advantage of the M.Ed. in Counseling Program at Stephens College.

Stephens is preparing to apply for accreditation with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)—a designation that will open more jobs to Stephens graduates and streamline the licensure process, making professional mobility easier from state to state.

“Stephens already has a very strong counselor education program, and gaining CACREP accreditation will only make it better,” said Dr. Gina Sanders, M.Ed. in Counseling director and psychologist. “CACREP requires an ongoing assessment and continuous improvement process so there is a great deal of accountability to constantly adjust our program delivery to improve student-learning outcomes and satisfaction.”

The accreditation will also make room for a new track in Addictions Counseling, a field the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow by more than 22 percent over the next decade. The names of the program’s existing three tracks will also be revised:

  • School Counseling will continue to be called School Counseling.
  • Marriage and Family Therapy will be called Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor will be called Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

“Addictions, either substance abuse and/or behavioral additions—like gambling and  internet addiction—are at an all-time high in our nation, and often co-exist with other mental health disorders,” Sanders said. “Up until now our counseling program has not had a place in the curriculum for a really strong focus in this area. 

“Since we are already making changes to our existing curriculum, we felt it would be a good time to evaluate if we could provide training in the area of addictions for those who would like to specialize in this area.” 

In addition, CACREP requires a full-time faculty to full-time student ratio of 1:12, which means Stephens will be hiring several new full-time faculty members. Dr. Kristen Langellier will join the counseling faculty this fall with two more full-time faculty members expected to join the program by Fall 2019, Sanders said. 

Ultimately, getting CACREP accreditation is about quality.

CACREP is the organization that accredits counselor education programs across the country. Programs accredited by CACREP are considered the gold standard in counselor training.

Many large employers such as the Veterans Health Administration and Tricare, the VA’s outpatient health insurance organization, require counselors to be graduates from CACREP-accredited institutions. Beginning in 2022, the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential will only be available to those who have graduated from a CACREP program.

Since CACREP accreditation will require some adjustments to the curriculum, Stephens is implementing those changes effective Fall 2017. All the CACREP tracks will require 60 credits, and most students are expected to graduate from the program in two to three years.

Applying for accreditation can take up to 24 months or longer in some cases. During this application period, Stephens will continue to offer its existing curriculum (for student enrolled before Fall 2017) as well as the new, CACREP-aligned curriculum for students who enroll Fall 2017 or later. CACREP states that students who graduate within 18 months of an institution being granted CACREP accreditation and have completed the required CACREP-aligned curriculum are considered graduates of a CACREP-accredited program.

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