It is important to highlight the complementary but distinguishing aspects of accreditation, certification, and regulation.
Accreditation is a voluntary, self-regulatory process of evaluation that focuses on programs. It is a recognition of quality assurance indicating that a program (e.g., master’s level counselling program) has met or exceeded pre-determined standards of excellence set by a relevant professional body (e.g., CACEP) and been granted approval. In order to become accredited, a master’s level counselling program must fulfill certain requirements or standards with regard to institutional settings; program mission, orientation, goals, objectives, and priorities; program content areas and competencies; supervised practice; student selection, advising, performance review, and program information; faculty qualifications and workload; program governance; instructional support; and self‐evaluation.
At CCPA, the Canadian Certified Counsellor (C.C.C.) is a protected title and focuses on individuals. It identifies to the public those counsellors who satisfy CCPA’s entry-to-practice competency standards. Certification represents a successful evaluation of a member’s qualification to practice, membership does not. In order to be certified, counsellors must meet certain levels of education and training in counselling, they must follow the code of ethics and corresponding standards of practice, and they are held accountable to show competent and ethical performance in practice.
Statutory (government) regulation pertains to provincial/territorial governments granting certain rights and responsibilities to a profession through legislation in exchange for the profession regulating its members in the public interest. Licensure/registration focuses on individuals. The College for that profession becomes the regulatory body that oversees the following professional functions:
setting entry-to-practice registration requirements; establishing ethical and practice standards; requiring that registrants hold appropriate professional liability insurance; the fair and timely investigation and resolution of public complaints, which may proceed to more formal disciplinary hearings; requiring registrants to maintain minimum standards of professional development, such as continuing education; and enforcing the occupational title(s) granted to registrants that may be used by non-registrants so that the public can rely on those who use the designated title(s) as holding defined competencies and being accountable to their peers.
In order to administer its accreditation program, CCPA has established the Council on Accreditation of Counsellor Education Programs (CACEP) referred to as the Council on Accreditation.
The CCPA National Board of Directors approved the revised CCPA Accreditation Standards for Master’s Level Counselling Programs in Canada in 2021 to be used as a basis for evaluation of master’s level counselling programs in Canada. The CACEP Standards, CACEP policy and procedures manual, and forthcoming CACEP Standards Handbook apply only to accreditation and not to certification.
CACEP Standards are intended for post-secondary institutions seeking accreditation, on a voluntary basis, for master’s level counselling programs in Canada.