Clinical Counseling Program Earns CACREP Accreditation
By Dan Silvia
After a three-year effort with contributions from across the University, the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling program has earned accreditation though the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
CACREP accreditation is an affirmation of the quality of our program. The CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) board consists of counselor educators and practitioners, as well as public members. The standards of CACREP are considered to be markers of high quality counselor education. CACREP accreditation provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. The Bellevue University program is one of the nation’s few that is fully online and according to President Mary Hawkins, “We are so pleased that our Master of Science in Clinical Counseling (MSCC) program was accredited by CACREP because beginning January 1, 2018 licensure requirements change. We would have had to stop offering the program without the accreditation,” she said. “Now, we can not only offer an accredited program, but we are able to expand it. We’ve hired new faculty members and invested in scholarships and are looking at new technology to improve students’ experience.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists – careers which clinical counseling graduates are prepared for – is growing at a rate of 19 percent, compared to the 7 percent average occupational growth rate.
“CACREP accreditation is an affirmation of the quality of our program,” said Bellevue University Program Director Barb Daubenspeck. She added that “graduating from a CACREP-accredited program provides an easier path for licensure for students entering into counseling practice.” According to CACREP, research shows that CACREP graduates perform better on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). A number of states and some government entities, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, now require CACREP-accredited education of the counselors they employ.
Daubenspeck added that all Bellevue University students who began the Master of Clinical Counseling degree program on or after June 1, 2016 (when the program standards were implemented), and new students, will be able to say they graduated from a CACREP-accredited program.
Jason Swain, a student in the Clinical Counseling program, is ecstatic about the new accreditation.
“The CACREP accreditation, from my perspective, means being part of a nationally recognized program that is recognized and understood by employers and licensing boards in all 50 States,” said Swain. “In terms of applying for licensure, the CACREP accreditation means I won't have to justify or defend my coursework to the state board.”
Swain praised the efforts of the faculty he has encountered during his program and in the accreditation process.
“The faculty that I have worked with in the Clinical Counseling program simply amazing,” he said. “The CACREP accreditation is further proof of the high standards and quality associated with the Clinical Counseling Program. The professors that work each and every day ensure that graduates of the program will be an asset to the field of counseling and that they have the foundation necessary to build successful careers.”
The accreditation is the culmination of an effort that started three years ago, Daubenspeck said.
“The MSCC faculty were all an integral part of the process as they worked tirelessly to revise curriculum, update Blackboard shells, and focus on ways to improve student success,” she said. “Dr. Theresa O'Halloran (CACREP liason during the accreditation process) and myself (Program Director) along with Dr. Clif Mason and Jessica Couture (Administrative Assistant) were the primary players in writing the self-study and managing the accreditation site visit. The program could not have met its goal of CACREP accreditation without the support of the University administration - particularly President Hawkins, Matt Davis, and Dr. Rod Hewlett.”