The accreditation process is far from easy, but it is necessary to ensure long-term credibility and retain a competitive advantage. Adhering to a set of peer-reviewed, shared standards is important for students, educational institutions, practitioners, clients, and the industry as a whole. While significant time, organization, and planning will always be required, there are ways to make the process easier for your counselor education program.
This article is for counselor education program administrators involved in the reaccreditation process, specifically CACREP programs. Our goal is to show you the ways the reaccreditation process can be easier, less stressful, and more efficient.
The CACREP Reaccreditation Process
As a counselor education program, having the stamp of approval from CACREP is essential for programmatic success. The standards determined by CACREP ensure that consistent quality of education, training, and care are upheld.
The reaccreditation process could happen on two different timelines for your program: two years or eight years. Regardless of which timeline you are on, the process requires a significant amount of time, planning, financial resources, and organization.
Why is CACREP reaccreditation so difficult?
The process is not easy because it involves a lot of people and organizations (think students, administrators, professors and instructors, supervisors, etc.). The steps within the reaccreditation process, if neglected or put off, make the end result exponentially more difficult. We are referring to, of course, the ongoing data collection, such as tracking scores, evaluations, reports, and logs of students’ hours required by CACREP. Requirements can also change from one accreditation period to the next, making organization even more crucial.
Add in the potential for staff changes at a program throughout or between accreditation timelines, which only requires more training and more time, and it’s not hard to see why this process is dreaded by administrators across the U.S..
Reaccreditation is also not free. Programs need to budget for the $2,500 application fee, $2,000 cost per site visit visitor plus additional site visit costs, and a yearly membership fee ranging from $3,800–$4,000. All told, each reaccreditation cycle can cost more than $8,500, making careful budgeting an additional necessity.
The Standards of CACREP Reaccreditation
The standards set by CACREP are detailed and comprehensive. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to wade through. We simplified them to help you get a start but be sure to dive into CACREP’s full standards to get the most complete understanding of your next steps.
Understanding the standards your program will be evaluated against is crucial to a smooth reaccreditation process. CACREP’s current 2016 standards are to be followed until an update is released. The standards cover the following areas:
Section 1, The Learning Environment
- Standards for the institution, academic unit, and program faculty and staff
Section 2, Professional Counseling Identity
- Foundational standards and standards for the eight required core curriculum areas
Section 3, Professional Practice
- Standards related to clinical practice, including practicum, internship, supervisor qualifications, and practicum and internship course loads
Section 4, Evaluation in the Program
- Elements related to evaluation of the program, assessment of students, and evaluation of faculty and site supervisors
Section 5 A–H, Entry-Level Specialty Areas: Addiction Counseling; Career Counseling; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling; College Counseling and Student Affairs; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; School Counseling; Rehabilitation Counseling
- Specialized content for various programs.
Section 6, Doctoral Standards for Counselor Education and Supervision
- Doctoral-level program requirements, including the specialized content for core curriculum, and practicum and internship requirements.
CACREP offers training to program administrators and shares accreditation manuals about how best to collect and prepare the required information. Spending time reviewing these manuals, including what is needed to maintain CACREP accreditation, will help your program stay on top of what is required.
What role does data play in reaccreditation?
Data is the foundation of a program’s reaccreditation application; it must be collected, then organized, and finally, presented clearly.
Gathering the data consists of thoroughly reviewing CACREP’s standards, noting what information is required and making sure the relevant parties, such as students, professors, and supervisors are accurately collecting that data, whether it is through logs, exam scores, or other records.
With information coming from a variety of streams and processes—i.e., paper, emails, digital files—the data then needs to be consolidated and organized. This can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for administrators because the work is detail-oriented and can be tedious.
After the data is organized and cleaned, it needs to be put into a format that is presentable to accreditation reviewers. Is all of the data in one place and easily pulled into a presentable format? Or will each report require detailed knowledge, making it difficult to repeat the next round of accreditation? Or are various individuals responsible for different reports?
Many of these questions are what cost you the most time and energy, but can be solved with data software partners like Tevera.
How does Tevera make the process easier?
Software programs like Tevera are designed to be a collection point for your data. Allowing various parties like administrators, staff, professors, and students to access the same software and data collection point, suddenly the process of cleaning the data virtually disappears.
Cleaning suddenly turns into verifying and double checking; making sure information like signatures or other information is accounted for becomes the second step, as the software has organized the data for you. With an easy-to-use interface, catching mistakes or missing information is faster and easier.
Tevera goes beyond being a place to store data because it gives you easy and fast tools to pull out reports that you need, simply with the click of a button. As someone in charge of the reaccreditation process for your counseling program, software like this allows you to have all the information and reports you need in one place, minimizing the time you spend gathering, cleaning, and preparing data.
Your CACREP Checklist
In addition to your full reaccreditation every eight years, be sure to review CACREP’s checklist for Program Responsibilities for Maintaining CACREP Accreditation. Having these items at the ready means you’re always prepared:
Interim report *only for those with a two-year accreditation
Update of program-related outcomes on program’s website
Annual vital statistics survey
Annual maintenance fee and program contact information
Although the process of accreditation and reaccreditation is laborious for counselor education program administrators, it is crucial for the credibility of an institution. It will ensure continued competitiveness of an educational program, provide students essential information about their future, and provide the industry with well-trained and competent professionals.
Tevera understands the importance of reaccreditation to helping professions like counseling and wants to make the process easier, so that program administrators can focus on their students, not paperwork.
Schedule a demo today with one of Tevera’s team members so you can start saving time and stop dreading the CACREP reaccreditation process.