It is important to distinguish between the accreditation of programs and the certification of individuals, two separate processes that are frequently referred to as if they are one and the same. On the one hand, accreditation implies the setting of minimal standards which training programs must meet. In order to become accredited, a counsellor education program must fulfill certain requirements or standards with regard to institutional settings, program mission and objectives, program content, practicum experiences, student selection and advising, faculty qualifications and workload, program governance, instructional support, and self-evaluation. On the other hand, certification implies recognition that individuals have met minimal professional standards to practice independently as a counsellor. In order to be certified, counsellors must meet certain levels of education and training in counselling, they must follow the code of ethics, and they are held accountable to show competent and ethical performance in practice.
Accreditation of counselling programs was established in 1987. The main purposes of accreditation are:
- To promote high standards in the pre-service training of professional counsellors.
- To assist the administration and faculty of counsellor education programs to assess and improve their objectives, resources, and programs.
- To promote a continuing review and evaluation of existing counsellor education programs.
In order to administer its accreditation program, CCPA has established the Council on Accreditation of Counsellor Education Programs (CACEP) referred to simply as the Council on Accreditation.
The Board of Directors of the CCPA approved the CCPA Procedures and Standards for Counsellor Education Programs at the Master’s Level (Robertson & Borgen, 2002) to be used as a basis for evaluation of graduate programs in counsellor education. The procedures and materials outlined in this manual apply only to accreditation and not to certification.
The procedures and standards outlined in this manual are intended for universities seeking accreditation, on a voluntary basis, for counsellor education programs at the master’s degree level.