Trying to bring closure to a process that began seven years ago in Montreal, the delegates to the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling initiative met for the final time at the ACA Conference & Expo in Cincinnati to discuss the two remaining “building blocks to counselor license portability.” The group reached consensus at the 2012 conference in San Francisco on the other building block, choosing “Licensed Professional Counselor” as the common licensure title for counselors.
Tasked in Cincinnati with reaching consensus on both a counselor scope of practice proposal and recommendations for common educational requirements for licensure, the delegates went 1-for-2. After roughly 90 minutes of discussion, the delegates voted 28-1 to accept a common scope of practice for counselors. The delegates could not, however, reach agreement on education requirements.
The major reason it is so difficult for counselors to move their licenses from one state to another is because there is little consistency from state to state regarding counselor licensure titles, counselor scope of practice and education requirements to become a counselor. The goal of the 20/20 Building Blocks to Portability Project was for the 31 participating organizations to reach consensus in those three areas so that a common licensure title, counselor scope of practice and counselor education requirements could be recommended to all 50 state licensing boards.
Everyone gathered at the 20/20 meeting in Cincinnati, which was open to the public, seemed to grasp the magnitude and difficulty of the assignment to reach consensus. In opening the session, ACA President Bradley T. Erford addressed the 20/20 delegates, saying, “Over this seven-year journey … we have all compromised. We have all given a little so the counseling profession can gain a lot. Let’s keep our minds and hearts open today.”
William Green, the president of the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), which co-sponsored the 20/20 initiative with ACA, also urged the delegates to focus on the endgame. “If we wish to address license portability, we need to reach consensus on these two issues [scope of practice and education requirements],” he said. “You are indeed the builders of the future of the counseling profession.”
At last year’s conference in San Francisco, the 20/20 delegates endorsed the concept that having a single accrediting body for educational requirements would be a clear benefit to the counseling profession. Two accrediting bodies participated in the 20/20 process — the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).
The proposal on the table in Cincinnati recommended inclusion of graduation from a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling or clinical mental health counseling program in model licensure language. It also recommended development of grandparenting language to be applied to graduates of CORE-accredited programs and graduates from other CACREP program areas for a time-limited period.
Although many of the 20/20 delegates expressed strong support for the proposal, other delegates voiced concern that endorsing the proposal would leave CORE and rehabilitation counselors “disenfranchised.”
Many of the delegates voiced their belief that the true solution to the problem is to have CACREP and CORE pursue a merger and urged those representing the two accrediting organizations to “come together.” The organizations did discuss a merger in 2007 but ultimately couldn’t reach an agreement.
Whether the two entities have a desire to revisit those talks remains to be seen. “We are in a very different place today than we were in 2007,” said CACREP President and CEO Carol Bobby, who also served as CACREP’s delegate to 20/20. Bobby told the 20/20 delegates that CACREP has had at least preliminary discussions concerning the possibility of exploring development of its own standards for accrediting rehabilitation counseling programs.
“We are a long way away from this third building block to license portability [common education requirements], which is a shame,” said facilitator Kurt Kraus as time ran out on the 20/20 discussions.
“We’ve gotten further than any other group has with this topic,” said Barry Mascari, AASCB’s representative to 20/20. “I’m a little disappointed we ended up with the ball on the 1-yard line.”
“I have come to realize the last yard belongs to CORE and CACREP,” added Burt Bertram, the 20/20 delegate representing the Association for Specialists in Group Work.
Carrie Wilde, who served as the delegate for the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association throughout the life of the 20/20 initiative, voiced her disappointment that the initiative was ending without its ultimate goal having been met. However, in an education session updating attendees on the 20/20 initiative the next day, she tried to strike a note of hope and optimism. “While the formal process is done,” she said, “I believe the conversation will continue.”
Although the 20/20 delegates could not reach consensus on all three building blocks to licensure portability, ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan said the plan is to present the common licensure title and scope of practice to all of the organizations that participated in 20/20 to ask for their endorsement. If a consensus endorsement is achieved, AASCB and ACA will then request that state licensing boards adopt the common licensure title and counselor scope of practice as well.
Jonathan Rollins is the editor-in-chief of Counseling Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.