It is imperative to attend an accredited masters in counseling program because failure to do will result in the student being ineligible for state licensure. Anyone who wants to become a licensed counselor must graduate from an accredited program and meet their state’s licensing and continuing education requirements.
Why Accreditation Matters
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a nationally recognized accrediting agency that verifies that graduate counseling programs throughout the United States meet high standards.
Almost all counseling programs in the U.S. are accredited by CACREP, which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This national accrediting agency regulates over 3,000 degree-granting higher learning institutions. CACREP accreditation is important because it signifies that a program’s content and quality have been carefully evaluated against strict standards set by industry professionals. Selecting a CACREP-accredited program means that the curriculum contains the skills and knowledge necessary for professional licensure in most states.
What are the Benefits?
It is much easier for students to become licensed and obtain employment if their counseling program meets the expected accreditation standards. Proper accreditation makes the licensing transfer and review process between states smoother. It is an advantage when it comes to applying to doctoral degree programs. CACREP-accredited counseling programs prepare graduates to pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) exam. Some newer programs may not meet the CACREP guidelines because their master’s programs in counseling psychology are specifically designed to meet licensing requirements in the state for specific programs, such as marital or family therapy. Be sure to first check with your state’s requirement for counseling licensure.
Accredited Degree Options
CACREP accredits master degree programs in certain counseling areas. First, they accredit addiction counseling programs that prepare students to work with clients and families affected by drugs, alcohol, gambling and other addictive disorders. Second, career counseling programs prepare students to help clients make sound career choices, such as choosing the right career path or vocational program. Third, they accredit clinical mental health counseling programs that teach graduates how to successfully work with clients experiencing a wide spectrum of mental and emotional disorders. Fourth, they accredit marriage, couple and family counseling programs that involve everything from emotional to relationship to communication issues. Fifth, they accredit school counseling programs that teach students how to promote proper career, academic and personal development.
Accredited masters in counseling programs come with required practicums or internships because all states require counselor-students to work under the supervision of a licensed counselor for a period of time before they can obtain full licensure. Each state has their own policy regarding supervision requirements and some require candidates to get an associate license or register their supervision. Those who practice counseling without credentials may either lose their license or face criminal charges. Certain states students to complete their supervision under an administrator at their place of employment. Learn more by contacting your state counseling board and joining a professional organization.
Accredited masters in counseling program are absolutely essential for obtaining state licensure and gainful employment.