CACREP-Only Assault on Virginia Counselor Licensing

The Virginia Board of Counseling has accepted a petition calling for the adoption of CACREP-only licensing in Virginia.

This should be of concern to all professional counselors as restrictions on our ability to practice make moving around the country increasingly difficult.  The continual drumbeat of CACREP as the “gold standard” also subtly undermines public and employer confidence in your abilities even if your practice is not immediately effected.

The language of the petition states:

To require graduation from a clinically-focused counselor preparation program accredited by CACREP or an approved affiliate of CACREP that includes a minimum of 60 semester credits (90 quarter hour credits) of curricular experiences and a practicum of at least 100 hours and an internship of at least 600 hours.  Allow a grandfathering of programs that meet current requirements for seven years from the effective date of the regulations.

This issue is available for public viewing at:

http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewPetition.cfm?petitionid=210

The petition comment period closed on August 13th with only 11 comments, most in favor.  The Board voted on September 19th to “submit a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) to initiate rulemaking and receive further information and comment.  Once the NOIRA is approved by the Governor, it will be published and a 30-day comment period will be opened.”

If given the go-ahead by the governor, we will see proposed new regulations from the Board with one more public comment period.  (If anyone is more familiar with the regulatory process in Virginia, please improve upon my understanding.  It may be that there is a legislative approval process required for regulatory changes to take effect.)

The petitioner was Dr. Gerald Lawson – the primary CACREP contact for VA Polytechnical Institute and State University:

http://www.cacrep.org/organization/virginia-polytechnical-institute-and-state-university/

 

Of the 11 comments made on the petition, 8 were in favor of it.  Of these 8 favorable comments, every single blessed one of them was made by faculty at a CACREP or CACREP-pending program in Virginia.  At least two of these professors have published papers specifically concerning CACREP.

 

What we appear to have here is a small group of CACREP partisans rather quietly working a CACREP-only agenda on Virginia licensing.  How quietly is in some dispute.  At least one professor at one of the non-CACREP schools in Virginia (George Mason) claims that their faculty were largely left out invitations to a state-wide discussion of the issue whereas CACREP school faculty were invited.

 

Virginia is a particularly vulnerable state because it has far more than usual CACREP accredited programs.  Which means more CACREP new graduates.  However, where does this leave all of the currently licensed practitioners?

 

For that matter, should such debates on the future of the profession be taking part largely in academia?

 

There are a few carrots being thrown to the non-CACREP counselors.  One is the 7 year grandfathering period.  After which the doors will be slammed on non-CACREP counselors in the state.  Another is that apparently Virginia does have some sort of process for accepting non-CACREP counselors licensed in other states wishing to move to Virginia.

 

These carrots are helpful, but really only soften the blow that CACREP is being forced as the superior standard and only standard.  One is also left to wonder at what point the regs allowing out-of-state transfers with non-CACREP backgrounds will be tightened?

 

As for current licensed Virginia non-CACREP counselors they are safe, right?  Most likely.  But then who among us has never had an unforeseen circumstance strike?  Counselors for a variety of good and bad reasons have their licenses temporarily lapse.  I’m just waiting for the first story of a Virginia counselor diagnosed with cancer who lets his license lapse in the face of life and death concerns, and then a year later finds out that he is locked out of the profession forever unless he leaves the state.

 

There is little to no evidence of CACREP being a superior standard.  Yet the approximately 70% of current counselors from non-CACREP schools are to be forced onto ever shrinking islands of practice , with an increasingly skeptical public left to wonder if they are really competent or not.

 

As Dr. Larry Epp wrote elsewhere:

 

“The Institute of Medicine Study on our profession could find no differences in clinical outcomes among the mental health professions, nor between masters prepared and doctoral level therapists, nor between CACREP and non-CACREP counselors. There is no scientific or clinical justification to ban permanently non-CACREP counselors from practice in the Commonwealth.”

 

We are currently assessing what the next steps are in the Virginia fight and consulting with people close to the situation.  In the meantime, please sign-up for our listserv on our website at www.concernedcounselors.org so we can keep in touch on action items.