Dear Fellow Maryland Counselors:
The Virginia Board of Counseling wants to restrict the practice of counseling in the Commonwealth within a ten year time frame to only counselors who graduated from a CACREP accredited graduate program. While in fairness to their proposal, they offer grandfathering to licensed counselors in other jurisdictions. We, however, are concerned about three possible ramifications of this regulatory change:
It creates the impression that graduates of non-CACREP and Counseling Psychology programs are in some way inferior; and we are concerned about how insurance companies may capitalize upon this distinction, as has already occurred with TRICARE reimbursement and Veteran's Administration employment.
Master Degree Recipients in Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, School Psychology or various Expressive Therapies will not likely be licensable in Virginia as counselors, even if they are licensable in Maryland. They would first need to be licensed in Maryland, even if they graduated from a Virginia university unaffiliated with CACREP.
The proposal engenders hard feelings between the states as Virginia is instituting a standard that the graduates of many Maryland non-CACREP schools will never be able to achieve (Most Maryland schools are currently non-CACREP), thus they will be denied employment opportunities in Virginia. Whereas Virginia CACREP graduates will be able to freely seek employment in Maryland and Virginia (Most Virginia schools are CACREP). In a regional economy, where the ability to compete for better employment is important, Virginia CACREP programs are giving themselves an unfair advantage in the counselor employment market.
If the Virginia Board of Counseling adopts a CACREP only standard, it is preempting a needed national dialogue on how to creatively include all quality training programs in a national accreditation standard, whether CACREP's or the emerging MCAC's (a newer counseling accrediting body). CACREP has not established that its graduates yield superior clinical outcomes. In fact, the Institute of Medicine Study on Mental Health Counseling in TRICARE could not discern a difference in clinical outcomes between mental health professionals trained at the masters and doctoral levels. What CACREP offered was a consistency of standards across states for TRICARE credentialing, which we agree is necessary, but CACREP need not be the only organization that can insure this consistency in the future.
The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland (LCPCM) is disappointed that Virginia CACREP Counselor Educators cannot supportall counselors and all quality counselor preparation programs. The heart of the counseling profession is empathy, tolerance, and the creative development of solutions. There is a place in our profession for all counselors, CACREP and non-CACREP, Counseling and Counseling Psychology; and the mission of the Virginia licensure board should be to find that inclusive place.
Please tell the Virginia Board of Counseling and Virginia's governor that a CACREP standard for licensure is not an appropriate standard at this time.
Larry Epp, EdD, LCPC
President, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland