Veterans Administration to recognize CACREP graduated counselors: what if you’re not?

Depending on your background as a counseling professional or student, you may or may not have heard about the Veteran’s Administration and its recognition of graduates from CACREP programs. The question here is whether there is room for the many counselors who are not from CACREP programs. A number of counselor education programs nationally have opted out of CACREP, in fact, due to its lack of flexibility and specialization. In answer to this, CACREP since adopted some specialized foci, but these are still specifically oriented; and this does not remedy the pre-CACREP counselors, let alone the CORE-accredited rehabilitation counselors whose field preceeded that of community counseling. CORE accredited counselors have fought in many states for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential, and are widely recognized as psychotherapists and clinicians with a high level of practical counseling training and peer-reviewed research composing a biopsychosocially based field.

There are several issues which have precipitated this result for rehabilitation counselors:

  • Identity of the field. Split between Vocational Rehabilitation, Mental Health, Administration, Training, and other more unique fields such as substance abuse, public policy, and accessibility research, Rehabilitation counselors tend to diversify- and where their professional functions go, their organizational memberships. These memberships fund lobbying, and the lobbying often does not acknowledge the low percentage of rehabilitation counselors in these dispersed fields.
  • A divided front. With the well-known and long-lasting division between National Rehabilitation Association and National Rehabilication Counseling Assiciation and a practically useless credential, (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, offered by CCRC) resources are being divided when rehabilitation counselors could instead speak with a united voice, like social workers. Even rehabilitation counselor educators seem to be removed from professionals, with National Council on Rehabilitation Education. Then there is American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, the rehabilitation counseling subdivision of ACA… but ACA is the group that seems to have negotiated on behalf of CACREP with the Veterans Administration.

As a formally trained rehabilitation counselor, I was taught to be a scholar-practitioner. The emphasis on clinical and therapeutic counseling skills was very high, as was a foundation in establishing research-based programs and procedures. It is my hope that, along with non-CACREP community counselors and other known counseling professionals, rehabilitation counselors will be given serious consideration as highly trained and diverse service providers. I would further insist that when considering the frequent coexisting disorders and disabilities on all fronts, which are experienced by veterans of our armed forces; rehabilitation counselors are not only worth including, but are best prepared to meet the counseling needs of our wounded heroes.

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