Some weeks ago we were wondering if the NBCC Foundation scholarships had a CACREP requirement. When we asked a NBCC customer service representative, we could not get a clear answer.
If NBCC scholarships were restricted in this way, it would raise a question of fairness, since one group of counselors would be receiving preferential treatment over another. NBCC, like ACA, is a counseling organization that includes members of many counseling backgrounds, both CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated, who loyally contribute dues each year unaware of any differential treatment of students from their alma maters.
The NBCC Perspective column (pages 64-65) of this month’s June 2014 Counseling Today seems to answer our question.
EVERY SINGLE 2014 WINNER IS FROM A CACREP SCHOOL
When we searched the NBCC website for specific criteria, we found that its preferential treatment of CACREP students was not as subtle as we thought, but clearly articulated in the requirements for their scholarships. Here are the requirements for the minority scholarship, as an illustration:
• Be enrolled in good standing in a master’s-level counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Applicants must carry at least six credit hours during the current semester and have already completed at least 18 credit hours.
• Possess substantial experience with ethnically, culturally and racially diverse communities.
• Commit to providing counseling services to underserved or minority populations for at least two years after graduation.
• Commit to applying for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential prior to graduation.
Obviously, NBCC is practicing preferential treatment toward one group of counseling students – those from CACREP schools — which is inconsistent with their mission as a neutral certification organization.
It is unfair and discriminatory for counseling students from CACREP-unaffiliated schools to be cast as political pawns, used to emphasize a perspective that is not unanimously held by our profession–that CACREP is the singular accrediting body. NBCC’s policy penalizes these students for their choice of graduate program, irrespective of whether they have other qualities such as minority status, economic disadvantage, or superior academic achievement that should recommend them for a NBCC scholarship.
This raises a series of interesting questions for us:
Since graduation from a CACREP-accredited program is currently not a requirement to sit for NBCC examinations, nor is it currently a requirement to become a mental health counselor in any state, why is NBCC using it as a primary criterion to select scholarship recipients? Is promoting CACREP accreditation more important than supporting counseling students who may be disadvantaged or members of minority groups?
Question: Why is NBCC offering scholarships only to CACREP students?
NBCC examinations are marketed to CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated counselors alike for attaining national certification after their graduate training. In fact, CACREP-unaffiliated counselors wishing to continue as TRICARE providers are directed to take NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), which leads to national certification as a mental health counselor. All counselors take these exams, but only CACREP students are allowed to compete for scholarships offered by the organization.
Counseling students in both CACREP and CACREP unaffiliated schools regularly apply to become Nationally Certified Counselors, which involves a significant application fee and yearly dues to NBCC. On one hand, NBCC supports students unaffiliated with CACREP by providing this pathway to the NCC. Yet, it is concerning that NBCC accepts their dues (without regard to the accreditation of their school) but then channels its scholarship support to only those who are attending a CACREP school. Use of their fees for a political purpose that acts against their own interests violates an inherent trust that accompanies their affiliation with NBCC.
NBCC should be a neutral party, but it is clearly taking sides in a complex political issue within our profession.
NBCC’s partisanship also discounts the value of CACREP-unaffiliated schools, many of which are among the nation’s leading graduate programs, including a number at Ivy League and nationally ranked schools. Their students should be equally entitled to scholarship support from NBCC.
If NBCC is the impartial regulator of certification exams across our profession, and readily accepts dues from students and graduates of both CACREP and CACREP-unaffiliated programs, they must be politically neutral and stand above organizational politics. The Counseling profession deserves higher standards from those who purport to maintain our standards.
We invite counselors and the public to take a closer look at the issues, sign-up to take action and receive newsletters and alerts, and to read the many documents in our document library outlining the lack of organizational leadership in appropriately addressing this crisis. You can also find FAQs, the latest blog entries, proposed solutions, and more at http://www.concernedcounselors.org .
About The Coalition of Concerned Counselors (CCC): CCC is a growing confederation of individual counselors, client rights advocacy organizations, counseling associations, and professional graduate programs created in order to educate counselors and the public on the growing threat of CACREP restrictions on counseling practice.
About Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM): LCPCM is a 501c6 advocacy organization for the rights of clients and the development and equity of professional counselors.