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New CACREP 2009 standards go into effect.

The new 2009 standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) take effect July 1, and replace the 2001 CACREP standards and take effect July 1. Some of the changes in the 2009 standards are especially relevant to the training and professional identity of Clinical Mental Health Counselors. These significant changes include merging the Community and Mental Health Counseling specialties into one specialization--Clinical Mental Health Counseling; setting 600 hours of internship as the common requirement across specializations; infusing competencies in Addictions and Emergency and Crisis Response in all programs; and establishing a new Addictions specialization. Other changes include the merging of Student Affairs and College Counseling into one specialization, and the deletion of the Gerontological Counseling specialization.

In an effort to promote counselors' professional identity in accredited programs, CACREP included a requirement in the 2009 standards that all new faculty hired after 2013 be from Counselor Education doctoral programs (preferably CACREP-accredited). Faculty with at least one full year of teaching experience in Counselor Education before 2013 are exempt from this requirement. While AMHCA did not take a position on this new requirement, it has been met with lively discussion--both for and against--among counselors across specializations.

AMHCA is very pleased that Clinical Mental Health Counseling was chosen as the name for the mental health specialty track, and that 60 credit hours are required for Clinical Mental Health Counseling training. (The 60-credit hour requirement takes effect in 2013; until then, the new standards require Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs to be at the 54-credit level). The new standards:

* Uphold the rigorous training standards AMHCA initially set in 1986

* Expand training requirements to include needed competencies in addictions and crisis response;

* Eliminate the confusion created by separate specializations in Community and Mental Health Counseling; and

* Provide a specialty title, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, that more accurately reflects the high level of clinical competencies met by practitioners in our profession.

The 2009 CACREP standards set 600 hours of internship as the standard for all CACREP accredited specializations. This represents a 300-hour reduction in required internship hours from the 2001 CACPREP standards for Mental Health Counseling. AMHCA expressed concerns regarding this reduction in hours to CACREP. However, The 600-hour standard represents a minimum requirement, and training programs and state licensing boards have the prerogative to set a higher standard for internship hours.

In light of the numerous manmade and natural disasters experienced over the past several years and the important role that counselors have played in providing counseling support to those affected, we are pleased that the new standards require competencies in crisis response. This is very consistent with the AMHCA initiative to create a Disaster Relief Registry.

A new Addictions specialization, infused with clinical mental health competencies, was added to the list of specializations in the 2009 standards. While we feel that it is essential for clinicians to have the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with clients struggling with addictions, AMHCA is concerned that the new standards introduce an Addictions specialization that is distinct from Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

The process of revising the CACREP training standards was a three-year process that involved soliciting feedback from many stakeholders across the counseling community. AMHCA was active in providing feedback each step of the way. We appreciate that CACREP listened to our concerns and came to two of our Leadership Training conferences to engage with AMHCA members in lively dialogue regarding the proposed revisions.

CACREP's 2009 standards mark a move forward for the identity of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. There will no longer be the confusion resulting from two separate specializations (Community Counseling and Mental Health Counseling), each providing mental health training, but with significant differences in training standards. Most importantly, having one title for clinical mental health counseling training and a common standard of 60-credit hours will greatly reduce barriers to achieving our national legislative agendas.

By Gail Mears, PsyD, LCMHC, NCC

2006-07 AMHCA

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Title Annotation:Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Author:Mears, Gail
Publication:The Advocate (American Mental Health Counselors Association)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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