If you are looking into a master’s or doctoral program in Counseling, chances are you have seen the acronym “CACREP” or heard the phrase “CACREP accreditation” in your research.
But, do you know what it stands for? Or, what it means if a Counseling program is CACREP-accredited?
Whether you’re interested in an on-campus or online Counseling program, CACREP accreditation signifies that the program aligns with professional standards of quality. It ensures you’ll receive a comprehensive, graduate-level counseling education and, with the help of expert faculty, develop the knowledge and skills you need to thrive in the field.
Below, we’ll explain what CACREP means, and why it’s important to attend a program with the CACREP accreditation.
What does CACREP stand for?
CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. This council is the premier accrediting body for determining the quality and credibility of a graduate Counseling program.
The CACREP has been around since 1981 and is recognized by both the American Counseling Association and the U.S. Department of Education.
What does the CACREP do?
Simply put, the CACREP develops and maintains standards and procedures that ensure students in counseling and related programs receive the highest quality education, so they are fully prepared for their state’s licensing exam and to find success in their professional careers.
These standards are recognized nationwide, and centered around eight different core areas in the discipline, including:
- Human growth
- Helping relationships
- Social foundations
- Group counseling
- Career development
- Professional issues
In addition to these eight core areas, the accrediting body also evaluates clinical standards to determine that the supervised clinical training in a program offers the instruction students need for future success.
What does a CACREP accreditation mean?
A counseling program with a CACREP accreditation means that the program’s curriculum includes appropriate counseling coursework and skill development opportunities for students. CACREP accreditation also shows that the professors and instructors within the program are committed to ongoing assessment, to maintain and improve their program’s quality.
How does a program obtain a CACREP accreditation?
Counseling programs seeking CACREP accreditation must complete a self-study process, submit a comprehensive report demonstrating how it meets each CACREP standard, and undergo an on-site visit.
The CACREP Board of Directors then makes a decision based on the self-study, site team report, and the program’s response to the report. The accreditation process typically takes between 12 to 18 months from the time the program’s application is received by CACREP.
Once approved, CACREP accreditation lasts for a full eight-year cycle (or for two years of the full cycle, if any areas need further improvement or evaluation). Once the accreditation expires, programs must go through another full review to retain accreditation.
Keep in mind that the accreditation process is a voluntary one, so not all Counseling programs you research will have this accreditation.
Does it matter if a program is CACREP accredited?
The short answer is yes. For one, a program that goes through the process of applying for accreditation, and is evaluated based on quality standards, shows that the directors of the program are committed to giving students the highest quality experience and instruction.
Secondly, all states require applicants to complete a specific set of coursework and a specified number of hours to qualify to take a licensure exam. And, all of the CACREP standards meet the state level standards.
Thus, by choosing a program with a CACREP accreditation recognized by the American Counseling Association (ACA), students are assured that the process of becoming a licensed counseling professional is streamlined and they will be able to take the 200 question National Certified Counselor Exam upon graduation.
How will attending a CACREP accredited program help me?
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, there are several other advantages to graduating from a CACREP-accredited program, including:
- A wider range of employment opportunities
- An advantage when applying to doctoral degree programs
- CACREP accredited programs are professionally and financially stable
- A program focused on professional counseling (not psychology or education)
The ACA understands accreditation as a “critical issue for our profession, particularly as it pertains to licensure. Licensure is designed to protect the public through formal recognition, educational standards and training. It also serves as a powerful sign of consistency, credibility, and unity. As the profession of counseling continues to develop, evolve, and advance, ACA recognizes that graduation from a CACREP accredited program provides a clear path to initial licensure.”
Does University of Bridgeport have a CACREP counseling accreditation?
The CACREP has granted accreditation to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling MS degree program in the College of Science and Society at the University of Bridgeport through March 31, 2028.
Our Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is the most diverse and advanced clinical mental health counselor training program in the state of Connecticut.
We train future clinical mental health counselors in trauma-informed, evidence-based counseling in preparation to meet the mental health needs of diverse communities. We are committed to cultural humility, enhancing the mental and emotional wellbeing of all people, especially those in marginalized and underrepresented communities.
Attending a MS in Counseling program with a CACREP accreditation is an informed choice to make if you wish to pursue a career as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), a Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner (LSATP), or any other area that requires licensure.
By choosing a program with a CACREP accreditation, like UB’s Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, you will learn what you need to know to get licensed and succeed professionally after graduation.
Contact us to ask questions or for more information. Your future in the counseling profession starts today!