Category Archives: CACREP License Restrictions

Alliance for Professional Counselors Launches!

(For more information – please see the new APC section of the Concerned Counselors website at http://www.concernedcounselors.org/apc/ )

~~~~~~~~~

All,

We are very happy to finally be able to report that the Alliance for Professional Counselors (APC) went public this past Friday 10/16/15 at the Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM) fall conference!

APC is a membership organization that aims to include all qualified counselors at all important career checkpoints including program accreditation, state licensing, license portability across states, and govt. and insurance paneling. The first (and very tall) order of business is mounting a response to the relentless CACREP-only onslaught underway in our professional associations, and at the Federal and state levels.

The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM) are proud to be the first organizational affiliate of APC. At our packed business meeting on Friday (estimated 200-300+ people?) the membership voted unanimously to endorse the LCPCM organization affiliating with APC.

The Alliance for Professional Counselors website is currently very sparse — just a few paragraphs and a membership form. In the near future the website will be expanded to include a lot more necessary information and to address what members can do to help with efforts. APC felt that it was important to launch in time for the LCPCM fall conference, and so the website currently online is bare bones. I have attached at the bottom of this email the initial statement from the website.

You can view the APC website at:

http://www.apccounseloralliance.org

More information is online at the Concerned Counselors website. You will find a very brief history of why APC became necessary, as well as some draft goal thoughts for the organization and what it can do for non-CACREP counselors. Please take a look at this unofficial information at:

http://www.concernedcounselors.org/apc/

APC is asking new members to join at a nominal yearly cost which will help with putting together an operating budget. You may also contribute additional funds to the political action committee (PAC). The membership form is available for download from their website.

APA DIVISIONS 29 & 17 PASS RESOLUTION IN FAVOR OF DIVERSE TRAINING OF MASTERS-LEVEL PRACTITIONERS: Building Support for the Inclusion of Psychologists and Other Professions in the Continued Training of a Diverse Workforce

APA DIVISIONS 29 & 17 PASS RESOLUTION IN FAVOR OF DIVERSE TRAINING OF MASTERS-LEVEL PRACTITIONERS:

Building Support for the Inclusion of Psychologists and Other Professions in the Continued Training of a Diverse Workforce

On Sunday 10/11/15 the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy) unanimously passed a resolution, joined by Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), in order to:

  • Fully support the role of psychologists, counselors, MFTs, psychiatrists, social workers, and other professionals in the training of master’s level counselors, and
  • To NOT support any efforts that “limit core faculty or supervisors to only those from one designated training/professional background”.

Conversations with persons knowledgeable with the vote indicate that Divisions 17 and 29 may be looking to create greater support within the APA as a whole for master’s level practitioners.  State counseling boards that are looking at adopting  more narrow rigid program accreditation requirements in licensing (like CACREP) may want to reconsider given the increasing support from within APA divisions and elsewhere that are promoting quality accreditation and licensing standards with less rigid requirements.

The clear and public voicing of resolution by these two APA divisions joins the groundswell of support for a more inclusive and just solution to training accreditation, licensing, and insurance/government paneling of practitioners.  ACA division Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) and some state AMHCA chapters have previously come out in favor of solutions that allow all competently trained counselors equal status in the workplace.  A new national association is expected to be announced in the next few weeks which will concentrate on this matter.

It is anticipated that efforts to develop methods, institutions, associations, or financial means to advocate on behalf of all counselors will receive a boost from the public support of these two APA divisions.  Currently APA, as an organizational whole, maintains its position of not being involved in master’s level training or licensing.  The growing pressure from APA divisions may impact this position in the future.

This resolution is GOOD NEWS for master’s level non-CACREP counselors, and particularly students and staff involved with master’s level counseling psychology training programs, in their efforts to promote high quality and inclusive accreditation requirements.

The announcement in its entirely follows below.  While not involved in this announcement, Dr. Jesse Owen (original submitter of this resolution) when contacted indicated that he is available to answer questions and concerns related to the resolution at Jesse.Owens@du.edu  .

……………………………………………………………

[For More Information: Jesse Owen, PhD. – Jesse.Owen@du.edu]

Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy

(Division 29)

American Psychological Association

Resolution: #2917

Subject: Inclusive Training of Master-Level Counselors and Related Licensed Professionals by Trained Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals (e.g., Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists)

Old Resolution or Amendment typed here if applicable

WHEREAS, Trained Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals (e.g., Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists) have an important and vital role in training Master-level counselors and related licensed professionals,

WHEREAS, Trained Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals (e.g., Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists) have shaped the nature of training of Master-level counselors and related licensed professionals,

WHEREAS, Trained Psychologists and Other Mental Health Professionals (e.g., Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists) affirm inclusivity in training to those from a variety of professional backgrounds and nationalities,

RESOLVED, That the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (Division 29, APA), fully support the role of Trained Psychologists and Other Licensed Mental Health Professionals (e.g., Social Workers, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Marriage and Family Therapists) in the training and education of Master-level counselors and related licensed professionals,

RESOLVED, That the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (Division 29, APA), cannot support any efforts or programs that limit core faculty or supervisors to only those from one designated training/professional background (e.g., Counselor Educators, Counseling Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers).

Submitted by: Jesse Owen, PhD. Training & Education Domain Representative

Approved by the Training & Education Committee

Action Taken: TBD

 Date: TBD

 Effective Time Period: TBD

The Trouble With the CACREP-Only Counselor Movement

A lot of people are wondering what the fuss is about professional counseling moving to CACREP accreditation standards, especially since organizations like the ACA, AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC are promoting this move.

Therein lies the first problem: COMPLEXITY (and acronyms)

A whole post could be written about just the players and organizations involved. (CACREP = Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, ACA = American Counseling Association, AMHCA = mental health counseling division of ACA, ACES = counselor education division of ACA, NBCC = National Board of Certified Counselors which handles national testing and increasingly looks like an ACA rival). Then we could badly use a dictionary of terms… then a history lesson… then a paper on each of the problems outlined below…

Busy counselors don’t want to sort through this complexity.

 

The second problem: BOREDOM (and perceived irrelevance)

The CACREP accreditation issue is usually described as a new standard for graduate schools to adhere to. Yawn. If you graduated 10 years ago and work seeing clients, an academic discussion on standards puts you to sleep. Nowhere in the usual discussions of this issue is there a suggestion that your FUTURE CAREER may be affected.

 

The third problem: ASSURANCES

If you have listened at all to the ACA and other advocates, you have been told that this won’t effect those currently licensed, that ACA will advocate for your equality, and that its all for “great reasons” (see below). Official associations keep on speaking ever so carefully so as to not quite lie, while giving the impression all is well.

 

So, in a nutshell (or as short as we can make it), what are the fastest descriptions possible of the problems with a CACREP-Only approach?

CACREP-ONLY: There are other styles of training and other emerging standards. Few people are rallying against the CACREP accreditation standard itself as an optional accreditation. It’s the implications of only having CACREP that is the problem.

FUTURE EMPLOYMENT: Graduation from a CACREP-accredited program in the past increasingly makes a difference in your ability to get a future job. TRICARE and the VA both prefer or require CACREP degrees. CACREP-Only partisans are working very hard to get CACREP mentioned in any Medicare regulations passed to allow professional counselors to accept Medicare. The fewer panels are willing to accept you, the harder it will be to make a living or get hired by employers. (This is why being able to keep your license is not enough. CACREP graduation or CACREP-influenced certifications may also be required.)

MEDICARE – THE GATEWAY: Private insurance companies often set their policies by what Medicare does. This is why we are so worried about CACREP-Only language getting into Medicare.

REPUTATION: The ACA’s official policy is now to lobby all 50 state Boards for CACREP-Only licensure. ACA goes to pains to say they will support the equality of currently licensed non-CACREP counselors. We hope so. How does one get a message of equality out to government, health plans, and the general public in the middle of persuading state Boards that CACREP is the “gold standard” that must be switched to? A DoD official was interviewed last year to discuss TRICARE’s two-tier policy in which certain (mostly CACREP) counselors are allowed independent practice, whereas non-CACREP counselors (otherwise independently licensed) are judged in need of doctor supervision. This kind of messaging will work its way into the public mind.

LOSS OF DIVERSITY: The problem with too rigid a standard is that you can lose some diversity. There are hundreds or thousands of approaches to counseling. Some arguments have been made that special communities (American Natives, disabled counselors-in-training) may be better served by alternatives.

BASIC FAIRNESS, “COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGISTS” AND VENGENCE VENDETTAS: CACREP-Only partisans are dead-set on excluding future students with master’s degrees in counseling psychology from obtaining professional counselor licenses (after a grandfathering period for current students). These programs have been with counseling since its inception. CACREP won’t even accredit these programs unless they make arbitrary changes requiring absurd expense and turn-over of core staff – its closer to truth to just say that CACREP won’t accredit them (see that part about not quite lying in assurances section above). There is a constant campaign to conflate and confuse in the public mind professional counselors holding master’s degrees in counseling psychology (who identify as professional counselors) with Ph.D. psychologists who have psychologist licenses. The two are not the same. More than a few commentators have opined that at one level the intractability of this dispute is about vengeance. The Ph.D. counselor educators are not allowed to teach in Ph.D. psychology programs. They are trying to push Ph.D. counseling psychologists out of their traditional role in teaching master’s level professional counselors (at “counseling psychology” masters programs). This is in part a war between two feuding groups of professors.

CONSOLIDATION OF CONTROL AND MONEY: At another level this may also be about money and control. The ACA helped create CACREP a long time ago, and now does not have official control over standards. CACREP partisans are also persuading state licensing boards to give-up control of their standards to this outside entity. CACREP charges a lot of money to programs wishing to obtain and maintain accreditation. NBCC controls at least two key gateways to the professional counseling career: national exams and national certifications. Currently no one is fighting over their control of the NCE and NCMHCE exams (unless they restrict taking them to only CACREP students…). They also control the NCC (National Certified Counselor) and CCMHC (Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor) certifications. These certifications are currently of questionable value, but NBCC is working hard to get these certifications required for licensure portability between states, as a stepping stone to independent TRICARE provider status, and more (See Portability below). It costs MONEY and lots of it to maintain certifications in addition to your state license.

PORTABILITY: There are currently conflicting proposed plans from NBCC/AMHCA/ACES and from AASCB (American Association of State Counseling Boards) for licensure portability when counselors move between states. The NBCC/AMHCA/ACES plan requires CACREP graduation to move between states unless a stubborn state board goes its own way or unless current non-CACREP counselors obtain and hold the NCC certification before 2022 (at which point CACREP graduation is required for the NCC). This is one example where NBCC can make millions of dollars from non-CACREP counselors by requiring them to grab an NCC certification while they can if they ever wish to work in another state in the future.

“GREAT REASONS” FOR THE “GOLD STANDARD”: Here are the most prominently mentioned reasons for moving to CACREP-Only:

So far here is what we’ve gleaned from CACREP-Only partisans as to reasons for CACREP-Only:

  1. Obligation to our forefathers. One CACREP-Only inclined historian states “We have an obligation to all of our forefathers/mothers and mentors to be good/honest stewards of the history of Professional Counseling. Please see that we pass on our family’s story.” (This sort of invites you to join a shared destiny and unity in which it is glorious to kick dozens of excellent graduate schools out of existence, destroy professional diversity, and cede immense power and money to organizations like CACREP and NBCC that are far less accountable to members than the ACA with its elections system.)
  2. Only immersion in a CACREP program can impart the correct spirit of shared IDENTITY and UNITY. (No training after-the-fact short of redoing graduate school will give this mystic feeling and purpose. We’ve never managed to get a definition of what this IDENTITY is, other than being told to read the 20/20 vision statement again (hint: nope, that does not solve it). UNITY if you are them we suppose.)
  3. Quality (Which, when challenged, results in vague mutterings about testing and program inspection standards… then reference to really flawed studies about NBCC tests being passed at higher percentage by CACREP students.)
  4. Counseling psychology master’s programs have more reliance on testing and the medical model. (If true, is that a problem?)
  5. Control of the standards of our own profession. (Because master’s in counseling psychology are somehow not our own profession…?)
  6. The government demands one standard. (It’s murky as to whether or not perhaps the government was first advised as to what standard it ought to ask for… Also – the “one standard” could so easily have been two (nursing has a few accreditation bodies) or have been a national certification allowing counselors from several backgrounds to attain the certification after demonstrating competence.)
  7. The IOM Study recommendations (Which some of us have described at some length as flawed.)

This letter is envisioned as something of a 101 primer. Problem is, this is such a complex topic that it will surely need revision and expansion almost as soon as its published. Consider this a draft.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

At the immediate moment – BE LOUD. Participate in this Linked-In Group, on the Concerned Counselors listserv (see www.concernedcounselors.org), on ACA Connect Open Forum, and on CESNET. Plans will shortly be announced for a new national association dedicated to fighting the CACREP-Only injustice.

Two Competing Licensure Portability Plans

A curious thing happened late this summer – two competing plans for licensure portability emerged.  This is a long post, but make sure you also get to the 2nd plan below from AASCB.

AMHCA-ACES-NBCC Portability Standards for Counselors
(link to actual plan document)

This first one is bad.  It is a joint plan by AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC which calls for:

EITHER

• A degree from a clinically focused counselor preparation program accredited by CACREP;
OR
• Certification as a National Certified Counselor;
OR
• Fulfillment of standards adopted by a state counseling licensure board;

AND

• Possession of a counselor license for independent practice for at least two years.

The problem here is that NBCC has indicated that the NCC certification will require a CACREP degree for new applicants after 2022.  So while this plan gives a grandfathering period for all of us non-CACREP counselors to go grab and hold an NCC certification for life,  it very much fits with the CACREP-Only stance.  There does appear to be an exception there for state boards which don’t take their obvious suggestion that CACREP should be involved and instead set their own standards.

This plan also represents a financial bonanza for NBCC.  Non-CACREP counselors – if they ever want to be able to move out-of-state – are going to flock to grab the NCC credential right now while they still can.

Think about the money involved…  Some non-CACREP counselors may need to take another exam.  We are not sure what the original application cost is.  A 2014 newsletter said that annual maintenance fees were $80 per year.  Then of course NBCC sponsors and approves many of the CEU courses necessary for maintaining NCC status, but we won’t count that money…

Let’s do a little bit of back-of-the-envelope calculating although certainly the figures will be off.  Let’s assume:

  • This plan succeeds exactly as written (we’ll see)
  • 56,000 ACA members (although not all counselors are ACA members)
  • 70% are non-CACREP
  • 50% of the non-CACREP folks decide to maintain NCC status in case they ever need to move anywhere in their lifetimes.
  • We magically assume that all of these folks will work another 20 years so they all keep their NCCs for 20 years.

56,000 ACA members X .7 non-CACREP X .5 elect NCC status X $80 X 20 years = $31,360,000

This number is bogus of course, but however you calculate this, NBCC will make a fortune.

On a per person basis (assuming fees never rise) that is:

1 person X $80 X 20 years = $1600

This essentially amounts to extra money these folks would not have had to pay at all, except that NBCC participated in the CACREP-only enterprise of making their non-CACREP degrees second-rate, and then charged this membership fee so that at least these non-CACREP counselors could move around the country.

If they can get a job.  And take insurance and government programs.  And work around TRICARE, the VA, maybe Medicare, etc.  Good luck.

But – if they can make a living – perhaps in time they will appreciate their NCC membership as NBCC continues to offer more and more services that make NBCC nearly indistinguishable from ACA, minus some of the democracy and elected positions.

AASCB (American Association of State Counseling Boards)
(link to actual plan document)

The American Association of State Counseling Boards is what it sounds like – the place where all the state boards in charge of professional counselor licensing get together to hash out high-level issues, such as licensure portability.

Many of the state boards are resistant to the CACREP-Only cry.  Many states have lots of counseling psychology masters programs and/or few CACREP programs.  Others are worried about having enough counselors to serve their population, basic fairness in the profession, or other concerns.

On the other hand, CACREP and NBCC and ACA are all over their annual convention with money, presentations, and officers present.  CACREP and NBCC regularly sponsor events and underwrite costs.  This does not imply undue influence, but does illustrate some of the CACREP-Only pressures this organization is under.

The AASCB has tried to come up with a core set of requirements for years for counselors to be able to port their licenses from state-to-state.  They have finally hit upon an elegantly simple plan:

A fully-licensed counselor, who is licensed at the highest level of licensure available in his or her state, and who is in good standing with his or her licensure board, with no disciplinary record, and who has been in active practice for a minimum of five years post-receipt of licensure, and who has taken and passed the NCE or the NCMHCE, shall be eligible for licensure in a state to which he or she is establishing residence. The state to which the licensed counselor is moving may require a jurisprudence examination based on the rules and statutes of said state. An applicant who meets these criteria will be accepted for licensure without further review of education, supervision and experiential hours.

Furthermore “AASCB is open to research supporting a shorter time period if the research indicates no difference in disciplinary issues with those licensees who have less experience.”

This plan has several benefits, not least of which is that the plan does not mention CACREP by name and is much more inclusive.  Also:

1. It leaves more power to the states to determine what their needs are.

2. It does not tie state governments to the dictates of one outside body (CACREP) with whom they may or may not agree in the future.

3. It places more value and respect with counselor experience than with only the accreditation of the degree obtained.

4. It does not require multiple millions of dollars to be funneled into NBCC by non-CACREP counselors holding onto NCC status in order to have license portability.

In our humble opinion, it suggests that AASCB may not be entirely sold on CACREP and only CACREP as in the best interests of the profession and the public at large.

Please look for every opportunity to support the AASCB plan, including writing letters of support to their Board.

Two Important Letters You Need to Write Now to ACA Governing Council & the AASCB Board

Hi All,

There are two letters that I am going to ask you to write.  I’m also asking that, given the nature of these letters, we be especially polite (more so than I often am).  I know we are all angry – and often that anger is what gets officials to pay attention.  But not this time.

When you write a letter, please consider sharing it – either to our listserv or to inquiries@concernedcounselors.org .  Letters sent to Concerned Counselors may be reposted on the concernedcounselors.org website.

For those feeling adventurous, it would be very useful if you also post your letters to ACA Open Forum and CESNET as well.

Both of these letters need to be fairly unique to have impact.  That is, we are not going to provide talking points.  Talking points help tremendously with getting a primary message across, but these need to be unique from you and from the heart.

During the Virginia regulatory comment period over *300*(!) of you wrote to express displeasure with the CACREP-Only proposed regulations.  Which was awesome, but being the busy professionals that we are, a number of the comments were exact cut and paste from the talking points.  This was especially true also for letters to Congress this past summer in support of less restrictive TRICARE regulations (and thank you – hundreds of these also came in).

So what we are asking for are well-crafted, painfully polite, fully fleshed-out, profession letters with your credentials laid out (and bonus points if on letterhead).

***#1***

The first letter is to the individual members of the ACA Governing Council.  Yes, these are the folks who just passed all of those CACREP-Only policies, announced that ACA will be lobbying all 50 state Boards to go CACREP-Only in licensing, and announced that ACA will only support CACREP accreditation even after the MCAC accreditation alternative is approved by CHEA. (See http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/faqs-licensure-policies )

The thing is, many of the ACA Governing Council members are surprisingly NOT up on the politics of CACREP-Only.  Others have only been fed the CACREP party line for months.  Still others may have been pressured or surprised by the recent resolution votes.  It was not long ago that the Governing Council passed resolutions in support of ALL counselors.

We are told that many on the Governing Council voted AGAINST the CACREP-Only policies.  Several others may be persuaded to reverse course.

Please write the following Governing Council members and tell them how CACREP-Only policies will hurt currently licensed counselors, why it’s a mistake to jettison counseling psychology master’s programs, how you personally are effected, and any verifiable facts about the situation in your state that they are unlikely to be aware of:

ACA GOVERNING COUNCIL:

Thelma.duffey@utsa.edu, croland@thechicagoschool.edu, Robert.Smith@tamucc.edu, Elias.zambrano@utsa.edu, ttd_1@msn.com, RYep@counseling.org, dtgibmac@aol.com, suzdegges@yahoo.com, dee.ray@unt.edu, shane.haberstroh@utsa.edu, pfrancis@emich.edu, mperepiczka@gmail.com, mkocet@yahoo.com, skbutler@ucf.edu, sgiunta@troy.edu, pdunlap@wayne.edu, alan.burkard@marquette.edu, lisa.jackson-cherry@marymount.edu, nmmerchant@stcloudstate.edu, judydaniels@gmail.com, simone.lambert@gmail.com, bret.hendricks@ttu.edu, ssees1@msn.com, dosborn@fsu.edu, sepressman@aol.com, Christopher.Roseman@utoledo.edu, tmitchell@breweredu.org, mwallace@jsu.edu, dianapals@hotmail.com, ricshawnadkins@hotmail.com

***#2***

The American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB) came out recently with a wonderfully inclusive plan for licensure portability that would protect many non-CACREP counselors.  See http://www.aascb.org/aws/AASCB/pt/sd/news_article/110786/_PARENT/layout_details/false

Furthermore, they published this plan directly after the horrible “portability” plan was announced from AMHCA, ACES, and NBCC (http://www.nbcc.org/assets/eblast/AMHCA-ACES-NBCC_Portability_Plan.pdf ).

The president of AASCB, Karen Enegess, is under some pressure from members of their Board to adopt a harder line in favor of CACREP-Only policies.  (In other news, CACREP has spent generously in support of AASCB conference events for many years, and last year even held a large CACREP meeting  in the same hotel concurrently with the AASCB conference.)

What we need are letters thanking Karen Enegess and the AASCB Board for their license portability plan and outlining how much it will help all counselors.  This would also be a good time to insert a bit about how much CACREP-Only policies will hurt both licensed counselors and the public served by their state board members.

AASCB BOARD:

kenegess@gmail.com, sushammonds@bellsouth.net, susan@2liferesources.com, erik_oo@yahoo.com, mmgu2@aol.com, lpcboard@eatel.net, info@aascb.org,

 

North Carolina Legislature Passes CACREP-Only Legislation

[5:00pm EST 10/08/15 edit — ACA has deleted its Open Forum post and the news item on their website.  Some of the links in this story will not work anymore.  Read this story first, then click here for the update.]

The bill is apparently on governor’s desk.

Contacts expressing the damage that this bill will do to professional counseling should be addressed to:

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
116 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27603-8001
Fax:(919)733-2120
Tel:(919)733-4240
email: governor.office@governor.ncmail.net
Email/Webform: http://governor.nc.gov/contact/email-governor

The ACA is doing damage control about how disappointed they are that the bill lacks adequate grandfathering measures.  See below.  I guess it’s impossible to control all bills everywhere, but this gets to our earlier points about it being nearly impossible to maintain the equality of current non-CACREP counselors while simultaneously pushing for CACREP-Only in new licensing.  We’ve also expressed hope that ACA efforts to protect non-CACREP counselors will be as vigilant and well-funded as planned efforts to get CACREP-Only licensing language passed in all 50 states.  Such a large campaign implies funding and coordination – we hope more such legislative slips will be few and far between.

HOWEVER — Our read of the bill (see below) is that it DOES have grandfathering of non-CACREP applicants through 2022.  We don’t yet see what is lacking in the grandfathering as desired by ACA and CACREP (other than the whole idea of grandfathering being inadequate).  What are we missing here?  Not sure if the ACA is worried about adequate grandfathering for LPCs (regular counselors) or LCPS (supervisors).

ACA PAPER:

https://www.counseling.org/news/updates/2015/10/07/aca-affirms-commitment-to-nondiscrimination-expresses-disappointment-in-the-nc-legislature-s-decision-to-coopt-counselor-licensing-bill

[5:00pm edit – This link no longer works.  Deleted by ACA]

NC BILL SENT TO GOVERNOR:

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S279v5.pdf

~~~~

ACA Affirms Commitment to Nondiscrimination, Expresses Disappointment in the NC Legislature’s Decision to Coopt Counselor Licensing Bill

Oct 07, 2015

Last week, ACA received notification that a bill pertaining to the licensing of counselors in North Carolina, Senate Bill 279, had been scheduled for an immediate vote in the House after passing out of a joint conference committee the day before.

A version of S279, a bill pertaining to “Amending Qualifications/Practice of Counseling,” has been sent to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

ACA is glad to see that CACREP standards have been legislated in the state of NC to be included in the state’s licensure requirements. However, ACA is disappointed in the lack of clear pathway for those LPCS with non-CACREP degrees. ACA is committed to supporting adequate grand-parenting for those with degrees from non-CACREP accredited programs.

While S279 was written to make amendments to the licensure process, the bill was utilized for other political agendas. In mid-September, the House amended the bill to include significant provisions regarding sex education in North Carolina’s schools, an issue that is unrelated to the licensing of counselors. These provisions, if signed into law, will mandate the promotion of abstinence-only education and write into statute sex education curricula, without including the expertise of educators in the field.

The conference committee version of the bill bore fruit to an even more egregious version of the bill. This version included sections regarding local governance that took away the authority for local government to pass laws raising the local minimum wage, ensuring fair housing, and enforcing non-discrimination in employment practices. As counselors, we understand how important it is that we empower local communities to make the decisions that best serve the people who live there. Local government decisions foster innovation and local control exists to reflect the unique values and needs of different communities.

ACA stands firm in our commitment to nondiscrimination. It is against the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics (section C.5.) and antithetical to the nature of the profession, a profession that is committed to improving the lives of all people. ACA actively fought against the inclusion of these provisions and remains disappointed at those in the North Carolina legislature whom utilized this opportunity to advance other agenda items, distracting from the need to promote and improve access to qualified mental health practitioners in the state.

CACREP Confusion in the States and the Impact on Already Licensed Counselors

As of 9:30pm tonight 9/27/15 (or earlier) the following message thread which was posted yesterday on ACA Open Forum no longer appears. As of this time no notice of its removal or a reason for such has been provided.  This material is posted with permission of the original author.

From: James Reeder

Posted: Saturday September 26, 2015 3:04 PM

Subject: CACREP Confusion in the States and the Impact on Already Licensed Counselors

Message:

One of the state counseling associations recently sent out an email blast asking all their members to write legislators in support of CACREP-Only legislation. A Concerned member of theirs wrote back expressing consternation about what such a position will do to non-CACREP counselors.

The state association responded expressing confusion as to how that counselor could even be concerned given that:

“The legislation does not in any way effect those who are currently licensed.”

“In the future… all programs… are or will soon be CACREP.”

I find this response both unsettling and hopeful. Its unsettling because it has a chilly almost lock-step similarity to the exact positions I keep seeing espoused by CACREP-Only partisans on several forums. Do they have shared talking points? I find it hopeful because – if taken at face value – it suggests that many CACREP-Only supporters are innocently ignorant of the damage such proposals will cause. Maybe there is some hope at education. I’ll take another stab at this now:

Regarding no current non-CACREP counselors being hurt:

Some problems with the “generous grandfathering” proposed:

  1. Your non-CACREP license will be increasingly worthless if insurance plans, the public, and government entities see you as something less than the gold standard. Especially if more plans join TRICARE and the VA in adding CACREP-related requirements on top of valid state licenses.

As an example, I posted to ACA Open Forum a current example of a North Carolina company that is advertising a job opening that is only open to CACREP graduates. (The ad also lets people take an alternate exam but their website says they only hire CACREP grads!)

  1. A comprehensive, well-funded plan to maintain equality in PR and marketing and messaging between CACREP and non-CACREP counselors is needed to be executed on by our associations including ACA. ACA is clearly promising to advocate for your equality as a non-CACREP counselor. I wonder how this lovely message will get through as ACA revives its gold standard rhetoric in their latest FAQ and gears up to lobby all 50 state licensing boards to change regulations to CACREP-Only. However, I remain hopeful that ACA will pull this off.
  1. License portability plans remain very much in flux with competing plans proposed. Your ability to switch states is in question in the years ahead. Hopefully the AASCB plan will prevail.
  1. I’m hearing from worried school counselors. Apparently its common for school counselors to work 7-8 years as a school counselor, and then go back for some additional coursework to become licensed clinical counselors. Depending upon the initial training or subsequent additional coursework, school counselors frequently have strong or acquire strong clinical skills. Its an open question how all of those non-CACREP school counselors will be able to retool mid-career to clinical work if licenses require CACREP-Only.
  1. What if your license lapses? Maybe, gods forbid, you get sick for a few years. A kind and thoughtful licensing board will take such into account. A licensing board imposing new CACREP-Only regulations might not. I do believe that most licensing bodies have common sense, but this is a concern.

Regarding all schools soon being CACREP:

Does this state have any counseling psychology masters programs?

CACREP partisans have conveniently re-defined the definition of professional counseling to not include counseling psychology masters programs. They can then use skewed statistics leaving them out entirely.

There are dozens and dozens of these programs and CACREP will not accredit them no matter what they do!

Plans will be announced shortly as to some organized ways to advocate for all counselors. There will be advocacy for any accreditations approved by CHEA and the MCAC program accreditation is currently going through the CHEA process and will compete with CACREP. CACREP partisans are trying to lock-down a monopoly while they can.

It’s all a crying CACREP-Only shame.

Virginia CACREP-Only Regulations Stalled!

We are writing to report on some hopeful news!

 

Recently several hundred professional counselors took time out of their busy schedules to write letters in opposition to proposed regulations to change Virginia licensing to a CACREP-Only affair:

Virginia Regulatory Town Hall List Comments

Around 300 comments and letters, overwhelming in opposition, were posted.  Please take a moment to look through the sound reasoning as well as strong passions raised against the CACREP-Only movement.

These Virginia regulatory changes were/are largely championed by Dr. Gerald Lawson – a faculty member at a Virginia program, current President of ACA division ACES, and no doubt one of the ACA Governing Council members partly responsible for the new CACREP-Only ACA official positions on licensing.

Petitions for Rulemaking, Vol. 30 Iss. 23 Jul 14, 2014

ACA FAQ on Licensure:

http://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/faqs-licensure-policies

 

At the Virginia Board of Counseling meeting on 09/11/15 a resolution to adopt CACREP-Only regulatory language was averted at least temporarily!

Virginia Regulatory Town Hall View Meeting

In the words of one person present at the meeting:

“The VA. licensure board had a very lively spirited debate with a packed audience on the CACREP-only regulation.    Vote to advance to next step FAILED on a 6 to 6 vote. It will be back on agenda Nov 13 at 10:00.”

 

We can only imagine what a normally dry administrative meeting must be like when 300+ comments are posted and the room is packed with counselors concerned about the issue!

According to reports and to the draft meeting minutes (linked to above), the resolution to advance the CACREP-Only regulations was voted on and the Board deadlocked 6 to 6.  At that point a move was made to put the issue back on the agenda for November.

We have not won this battle yet and Virginia may very well go CACREP-Only in the near future.  What we have shown is that showing up and being heard COUNTS.  We’ve also shown that even in a CACREP stronghold like Virginia, half of the Board had enough reservations to vote NO.  Half of the Board members voted NO despite a letter sent in support of the resolution from ACA.

It is possible to turn around the CACREP-Only movement and reinstate a vision of professional counseling that is inclusive and kind and has high standards.  We can do this.

ACA’s Problematic FAQs on Licensure Policies

It will be very important to somehow take back control of ACA in the next election.  Please pay attention to how your elected representatives for ACA offices and Governing Council reps from the various ACA divisions are voting on CACREP-Only policy issues.

Today the American Counseling Association (ACA) came out with an FAQ about licensing which you can access here.

This FAQ solidifies ACA’s official positions against non-CACREP counselors, with the important exceptions of some grandfathering and time to adapt.

In the attached public policy statement ACA officially:

1.    Restates their new Governing Council licensure policy

2.    Directly states that ACA is opposed to MCAC

3.    Directly states that ACA does not consider graduates of master’s programs in counseling psychology to be professional counselors.  They should “focus on licensure within the profession of psychology”.

4.    Has revived the “gold standard” language they abandoned for some months.

The “gold standard” rhetoric should be of great concern to already licensed non-CACREP graduates as we would need a comprehensive, well-funded, priority-level campaign from our national associations to undo the damage in the public mind that not being up to the “gold standard” will do to our careers.  Please see the many recent messages on employers requiring CACREP in job announcements and the efforts of CACREP-Only partisans to get CACREP language inserted in Medicare, TRICARE, the VA and who knows where else.  You may have a license as a non-CACREP counselor after 2020, but the messaging as to your value MATTERS.

MCAC is an up-and-coming accreditation standard, steadily winding its way through the CHEA national accreditation process (accreditors have to be accredited apparently).  Several graduate programs have already joined it, their emphasis on social justice is worthy, and their inclusion of counseling psychology programs gets rid of this strange distinction that CACREP-Only partisans have trumped-up which threatens to kill dozens and dozens of fine graduate programs.

ACA FAQ on licensing available here.

Pitfalls of Grandfathering in the New ACA Governing Council Plan

[Those who have not seen the ACA Governing Council meeting minutes endorsing CACREP-Only can find them here.]

We received the following excellent question back-channel from a concerned counselor:

“I read your ACA post with alarm this morning…  Maybe you can clarify a question: What would this ruling mean for someone like me, who has been licensed with an LPC since 1999, from a non CACREP school?.  Would I automatically be grandfathered in, or will I have to make up for any possible deficiencies with my school program, by 2020?”

Good question.  What it will MOST LIKELY mean, is that you will be grandfathered-in and not have to do any further training (not have to make up “deficiencies”).

We remain very alarmed because such a probable outcome does not mean those grandfathered-in are safe.  We just won’t know until events are gradually done to us over the years.

ACA is claiming in the governing council motions that non-CACREP counselors will be treated equally.  I hope so.

In a few of our recent postings we have pointed out instances of prominent CACREP-only communications defaming or at least indirectly implying inferiority of non-CACREP counselors.  This is a message that state boards, Congress, and the general public are being bombarded with.

In order for those grandfathered to remain equal and have fully empowered future careers the following needs to happen:

  • State licensing boards need to adopt the recommended grandfathering provisions exactly, and not something harsher. (Don’t forget they are getting the messaging that we are inferior.)
  •  State licensing boards requiring some sort of alternative licensing procedure for non-CACREP counselors need to NOT adopt requirements so gosh darn exact to CACREP that those non-CACREP counselors going through the procedure would have to redo training for trivial reasons (like redo internships because they were not broken into two components instead of one for example).
  • Portability between states would need to be possible for non-CACREP counselors, as opposed to us being stuck in the state where we managed to get grandfathered before 2020 or whenever.
  • AMHCA and other parties need to immediately quit efforts to get TRICARE, the VA, Medicare, and who knows what other government programs and insurance panels to adopt CACREP-only paneling standards.  If the squeeze is being put on non-CACREP counselors at the state licensing level (ACA wants CACREP-only after 2020 in state licensing) then approval for a state license needs to be the final standard for participating in Federal and other programs.  Having a state license is not very helpful if the non-CACREP counselor then gets blocked from TRICARE, VA, and maybe Medicare or elsewhere.  It’s not true grandfathering if your license is second-rate.
  • The messaging of non-CACREP is inferior needs to stop.  It will be increasingly impossible to control the fallout.  Who can blame the general public, Congress, state licensing boards, private insurance panels, etc. if they adopt less-than-enlightened policies to exclude non-CACREP counselors if they truly believe such to be inferior?  This will shortly no longer be under the control of our professional associations as the messaging will result in independent actions in the world-at-large.
  • Medicare (when we finally get authorization for it) needs to NOT have any CACREP-only language in it.  Private insurance companies often mimic Medicare standards.  This is truly what could kill non-CACREP counselors.  Imagine being a non-CACREP counselor 5-10 years from now and being stuck in one state (although you need to move) and only being able to take 1 or 2 remaining insurance panels while all of your CACREP peers are able to take all insurance panels, TRICARE, and Medicare.
  • If the nightmare of private insurance companies and Medicare having CACREP-only regulations does materialize, then non-CACREP counselors better become really good at solo private practice because employers will be hiring CACREP counselors even if we still have state licenses.

We can’t swear all of this dooms day stuff will happen.  But it’s not rocket science to see how it reasonably could.  Especially with “our” professional associations actively working against us.

Let’s also not forget about the dozens and dozens of master’s programs in counseling psychology being actively hounded out of existence.  Such is not okay and does not serve the “profession” (whatever that means anymore) and certainly does not serve the mental health needs of the public.  NBCC’s offer to help “counseling psychologists” (their term for master’s level counseling psychology graduates after 2020) get licensing from scratch in all 50 states is an absurd atrocity that would be amusing if it was not so sad.