How to Properly Make Mention of Professional Membership and Credentials

Posted by: CC PA on September 16, 2011 2:12 pm

Every association has its own policies regarding how to properly state credentials. It is important as a member that you review these policies before making any statements regarding membership on your business cards, website or any other promotional materials you may have.  You could be in breach of your association’s policies without even knowing it.

This is true regardless of whether you practice within a statutory regulated profession or a self-regulated profession. There exist many protected titles in Canada and it’s important to know the requirements of using those titles. For example, in Québec, the title “conseiller d’orientation” is a reserved title and can only be used by those registered with the Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation du Québec. Additionally, the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors grants the use of the title “Registered Clinical Counsellor” to those registered with that association.

Of particular interest to CCPA members would be CCPA’s policy on the mention of membership. CCPA’s policy, established by the CCPA Board of Directors and placed on the application and renewal form for membership, states that “Mention of membership is not to be utilized on business cards or other ways intended to advertise a member’s qualifications as a counsellor.” This policy is also reflected in Article A5 Representation of Professional Qualifications of the CCPA’s Ethics Code and further elaborated on in the Standards of Practice for Counsellors (p.3 or restriction on advertising CCPA membership has been established because the general public often does not understand the difference between membership in an organization and qualifications of a counsellor. Anyone with an interest in counselling can be a member of CCPA. If a person with no formal counselling qualifications indicates CCPA membership on their advertising material, it may be construed by the general public that they have certain counselling qualifications when, in effect, they might not. As such, CCPA is ethically obliged to notify any members who are in breach of this policy and appreciates its members’ promptness and diligence in making the required corrections.

Members are permitted to indicate membership on a resume. For example an employer may want a person to belong to a professional association. But it is up to the member to ensure that their employer understands the difference between a member and a certified member. Employers hiring counsellors often have a greater understanding of credentials and certification.

So what does CCPA allow its’ members to say? Should you wish to use a qualification designation from CCPA, you must be certified. Certification permits the use of the letters C.C.C. (Canadian Certified Counsellor) as the appropriate statement about qualifications to practice counselling. If you are certified, you may state that you are a Canadian Certified Counsellor.

Protection of the public is of utmost importance and CCPA urges members to do their part. With proper use of restricted titles and representation of membership, we can make sure that the public is not misled regarding a counsellor’s credentials.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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