24 Comments

CACREP vs. Non-CACREP Counseling Programs and Licensure

Contributed by: Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC

There are some students who have concerns about their ability to get licensed if their master’s program had not received CACREP accreditation and there is a lot of misinformation out there. In my book, “A Roadmap for Students and Professionals in the Counseling Field. Employment, Licensure, Clinical Supervision, and more” , I explain the major difference between the two.

CACREP stands for Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. CACREP accredits counseling degree programs at the master’s and doctoral level.   Graduating from a non-CACREP program does not disqualify you from taking the licensing exam.

The reason why you are not totally eliminated from being licensed if your program is not CACREP accredited is because CACREP is just one of many different accrediting bodies. Almost every state has more than one accrediting organization that they approve of, along with various educational requirements for licensing.

The Council on Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA,  is an organization that actually “accredits the accreditors”.  Therefore CHEA approves many accrediting organizations, including CACREP, to guarantee the quality and standards used by the accrediting organizations.

For example, some states say you can graduate from a program approved by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), CORE is another accreditation program that has been approved by CHEA, or hold a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) credential, or submit transcripts and syllabi to obtain approval by a licensing committee.

**It is very important to check with the licensing board in your state because laws and regulations can change.**

If you are graduating from a non-CACREP program and you have a desire to work with military or veterans you will need to pay special attention to the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). This exam will provide you with national certification as a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). While the NCMHCE may be required by some states for licensure, it also serves as certification for individuals wanting to obtain military employment, provide counseling for military personnel and veterans, and to become a provider with TRICARE, a military insurance plan.

This exam is especially important if you did not graduate from a CACREP accredited graduate program.  It should be noted that you have to be fully licensed, not associate or resident/intern, to become an insurance provider.

On December 27, 2011 the Department of Defense established a new rule.  Effective January 1, 2015, recognition as a CCMHC, to work with TRICARE clients, will require graduation from a CACREP accredited program.

About Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC:

Camille is a licensed professional counseling and national certified counselor.  She is also an Adjunct Professor at Argosy University and has a private practice, Healing Psychotherapy Practices of Georgia.  She provides counseling for children and adults, clinical supervision, and assists students and professionals through consultation.http://www.camillemcdaniel.com   http://www.healingpsychotherapyga.com .

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About Tunisha Potter, Student Counselor Intern

Hello! I am Tunisha. I recently graduated with a master’s in counseling and guidance with a specialization in mental health/community counseling. I am currently in the process of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Texas.

24 comments on “CACREP vs. Non-CACREP Counseling Programs and Licensure

  1. Hi Camille
    I have a BS in Human Services and I just recently gradated with an MS in Criminal Justice from Everest University online. I really want to return to school to get my LPC. I am looking to attend Letourneau University in Longview, Texas The program is online 100%. The online coursed fits my need due to me being a fulltime mom and working fulltime. My only concern is I have been told that a student MUST have a certain % of in class (on campus) studies in order to become and LPC. Is this true? I also was wondering if the school had to be CACREP accredited? My goal is to work in Mental Health, or Criminal Justice field, What specialization does this require if any. My ultimate goal is to one day practice independently.

    • Hello Tammi!

      You will need to complete an internship for your masters degree to become an LPC. This may not require that you go to the school itself but will require that you be onsite for the extent of your internship. There are quite a few online schools that do require a meeting in person at some point. You will need to ask Letourneau University about its’ requirements.

      If you are graduating from a non-CACREP program and you have a desire to work with military or veterans you will need to pay special attention to the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). This exam will provide you with national certification as a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). While the NCMHCE may be required by some states for licensure, it also serves as certification for individuals wanting to obtain military employment, provide counseling for military personnel and veterans, and to become a provider with TRICARE, a military insurance plan. Check your schools CACREP status http://www.cacrep.org/index.cfm/finding-a-cacrep-program

      You may want to check out my mentoring program and accompanying book (which is on sale currently) http://www.camillemcdaniel.com/holiday-sale-november/

      http://www.camillemcdaniel.com/online-mentoring/

  2. Hi Camille,
    As someone else stated, I am looking into going to Liberty University (not CACREP accredited) to receive a Masters in School Guidance Counseling. How important is CACREP accreditation for this?

  3. Hi Ms. McDaniel,
    I have just signed up to begin a 60hr. M.A. In Professional Counseling through Liberty University. I live in the state of Georgia and just want to make sure this program will allow me to become a certified counselor or if I should just go ahead and find a different program. Liberty is not accredited by CACREP but they are accredited by SACS. Please advise. Thank you!

    • Hello Kimberly! Congratulations on starting your journey toward becoming a counselor. When you say “certified counselor” do you mean National Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or both? Well the good news is you can obtain both through that particular Liberty program. Graduating from a CACREP institution is not the only way to qualify for licensure and national certification. You must make sure, however, that your practicum and internship follow the state requirements so that you will allow you to sit for the licensing exam and/or get your NCC. I believe Liberty students have to find their own practicum and internship sites. You may find the 4-month Online Mentoring Program for Counselors helpful as you continue your counseling journey http://camillemcdaniel.com/online-mentoring/ . I also wrote a blog about it http://www.camillemcdaniel.com/mentoring-counselors/

  4. Does graduating from a CACREP program allow me to, after obtaining licensure, practice in ANY and ALL states? I’m under the impression that this is the main appeal: mobility.
    Much thanks!

    • Hello Chelsea! This is a great question you have posted. The answer is graduating from a CACREP program makes it easier for you to obtain licensure in YOUR state because a CACREP program has to maintain a certain curriculum and training that states recognize. However, every state has different licensing requirements, mobility depends on whether you can meet another states licensure requirements. For example, not all states require the same licensing exam, NCE or NCMHCE, in some cases a state may require both licensing exams, and some have additional exams like ethics that must be taken in addition before you are eligible to get licensed.

      The appeal of a CACREP program is the standard of curriculum they have proven to offer that states recognize and thus, it makes qualifying for licensure a more likely possibility. Just like I shared with another person on this blog, you may find the 4-month Online Mentoring Program for Counselors helpfulhttp://camillemcdaniel.com/online-mentoring/ . More info about it http://www.camillemcdaniel.com/mentoring-counselors/

      All the best!!

  5. Hi Camille,

    Whether you need to graduate from a CACREP program in order to get licensed depends on the state you want to practice in, right? I’ve just been reading/hearing conflicting things and now I’m not sure whether I need to graduate from such a program to be able to become an LPC and practice in NJ. Would I have to attend a CACREP program in order to be able to practice in NJ?

    Thanks!

    • Hello Angy! This is one of the reasons why I created this book and the online mentoring program http://www.camillemcdaniel.com/online-mentoring/. There is alot of misinformation out there but here is what you need to know…

      Graduating from a counseling program with CACREP accreditation means that particular school has meet certain state standards and it most likely meets requirements that a student needs in order to sit for the state licensure exam. Obviously, you will also need to complete certain paperwork and show of graduation to sit for a licensing exam. http://www.cacrep.org/template/page.cfm?id=113

      Quoting from the book excerpt above, “The reason why you are not totally eliminated from being licensed if your program is not CACREP accredited is because CACREP is just one of many different accrediting bodies. Almost every state has more than one accrediting organization that they approve of, along with various educational requirements for licensing.”

      So that means not graduating from a CACREP accredited program DOES NOT mean you cannot get licensed. However, if your program is not CACREP accredited you will need to make sure that your classes and internship requirements meet the licensing board requirements, which will allow you to site for the licensing exam.

      It’s good to get familiar with your licensing board anyway! Now you have a reason!

  6. Hi Camille,
    I have a Masters in Education, with a concentration in Counseling & Guidance and another in Counseling Studies. Non of these programs were on a licensure track or CACREP. My goal is to become licensed. The Virgin Islands does not license counselors, they only certify school counselors. I am trying to go through the NBCC to become license. Do you think this is a good route to take? Also, do you think doing my PhD will better my chances? I need much assistance with these decisions. Thank you in advance for your input.

    • Michelle first let me say sorry! Apparently, I did not click the option to be notified when I receive comments on this blog post.

      To answer your question, I would definitely contact NBCC because I am not sure how you would get licensed in a territory that does not recognize counselor licensure, especially if you plan to stay in the Virgin Islands. What do you hope to accomplish with licensure? If you get your PhD you would be eligible to become a licensed psychologist, depending on what you get your PhD in. Getting your PhD would only be beneficial depending on your counseling career goals. So if you give me a bit more information, I can help.

      Also, feel free to join my LinkedIn group The Confident Counselor, to continue getting support and answers to your questions!

      http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=5064171&trk=anet_ug_hm

      • Hi Camille,
        Thanks for your reply. I’m looking at getting my PhD in Counseling Psychology and ultimately becoming licensed and opening my own practice. Since I know that I cannot accomplish this goal here in the VI, I am willing to relocate to get it done. I am currently looking into NBCC and having them check out my transcript to see if I have all the required classes. I have been looking into Argosy University’s PhD program and speaking with someone about the program. I don’t have a specific concentration, I would like to be able to counsel any population. Is this a problem? However, I have been working with teenagers (high school students) and have a keen interest in that particular group, but still want to be able to service who needs it.

  7. Hi Ms. Camille
    Hope you are well. I am a recent master’s degree graduate from Kaplan University. My concentration was addictions. I am interested in being licensed. I am from Bronx NY. Also Kaplan does not have clinical requirements for this program. Can you assist me in this matter? Thanks sooooo much!!!

  8. Thank you very much!

  9. Hi Ms. Camille,
    Can you clarify a little bit on what it means to work with military personnel and what it means to be an insurance provider? If I go through a non-Cacrep program does that mean I can not work with someone who is a veteran and be paid?

    • Hello Anthony,

      This is a great question, thanks for asking. I am sure it will help lots of people.

      Many people have medical insurance. For a large number of people, their insurance plan includes mental health benefits. This allows them to see a psychiatrist, psychologist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Professional Counselor, etc. for a number of mental health services. If you decide to provide counseling whether in a private practice setting or in-home setting, and you want to accept insurance to get paid, you have to become an actual approved provider with that insurance company. There is an actual process when applying to be accepted as an approved provider with any given insurance company. **Many of the major insurance companies require you to be fully licensed for at least 2 years before you can apply to become an insurance provider and see clients. However, there are a few insurance companies that don’t have the 2 year rule.

      Currently, if you want to get hired as a contractor or work independently in private practice with military personnel you will need to consider graduating from a CACREP accredited institution, because these programs are often funded through TRICARE insurance. TRICARE has decided to set an additional requirement for any fully licensed counselor who wants to be approved to accept their insurance. You must have graduated from a CACREP accredited institution, effective January 1, 2015.

      Otherwise, you have until that deadline to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) and pass it so that you can be grandfathered in. I say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

      Here’s the full report http://gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-27/pdf/2011-33109.pdf

  10. Thank you Camille for clearing the air on this topic. I’m a student graduating from a NON-CACREP accredited institution. I would love to work w the military and veteran population, my question, once I graduate can I ask to take the NCMHCE or do I need to take additional classes? Please advise.

    • Hi Teri!
      I would recommend that you take the NCMHCE if you want to work with military personnel. Becoming a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) is the standard they accept for us counselors. By saying counselor I mean LPC, LMHC, LCPC, etc. (there are different names for us in different states).

      Now accepting TRICARE insurance is another story. Insurance companies have set rules about the qualifications you must possess to be considered as one of their insurance providers. They pretty much will not budge in this area. It just so happens for TRICARE, you will need to graduate from a CACREP accredited program, starting January 1, 2015.

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