Counseling Today, From the President

An Open Letter from the ACA President and President-Elect

Cirecie West-Olatunji and Robert Smith May 19, 2014

acaCorpLogoCirecie West-Olatunji and Robert Smith address recent changes to the counseling profession.


The past few years have been significant for the counseling profession. Among other advancements, we have secured licensure in every state, crystallized our professional identity, and opened up new frontiers for employment. The new counselor job description in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and TRICARE independent practice status are clear examples of growth.

Advancing the profession is certainly important to our future.  However, we are fully aware that recent changes have been cause for concern, anxiety, and stress for many ACA members.  While the vast majority of counseling positions do not require increased educational requirements, we realize that the requirement of a CACREP degree for employment in the VA, paneling by TRICARE, and (starting in 2018) licensure in Ohio shuts out well-qualified ACA members who were trained in a time when these requirements were either not available or required.

We want to make it clear that while ACA is committed to advancing the counseling profession and committed to CACREP and its affiliate CORE as the accrediting body for the profession, we are also just as committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that ACA members who do not have CACREP-accredited degrees will not be left behind. ACA is working tirelessly for grandparenting provisions and holding meetings to address the need for flexibility with constituencies as new job options open for professional counselors. As examples:

  • On Feb. 27, 2012, ACA submitted a letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson and asked him to consider removing the stipulation that only counseling degrees from CACREP-accredited programs be recognized after this calendar year.
  • In testimony to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Feb. 13, 2013, then-ACA President Brad Erford recommended that the VA expand the hiring eligibility criteria for Licensed Professional Counselors to include those who may have graduated from programs that were not CACREP accredited.
  • In recommendations submitted to the White House Interagency Task Force on Military and Veterans Mental Health, ACA urged the Obama administration to direct TRICARE and the VA to create alternative pathways to hiring eligibility for LPCs who received their degrees from non-CACREP-accredited programs.
  • ACA has held a number of discussions and meetings with CACREP and NBCC to secure their commitment to promoting grandparenting for those without CACREP degrees.  These discussions will continue.

In closing, please know that ACA values all of our members and fully recognizes the need to be an advocate for all who are struggling with workforce requirements. We are as fully committed to members who graduated from non-CACREP-accredited programs as we are to members who graduated from CACREP-accredited programs.

Thank you for your continued support.

Cirecie West-Olatunji, Ph.D.
ACA President, 2013–2014

Robert L. Smith, Ph.D.
ACA President-Elect, 2014–2015




Click here for PDF version of the letter.




  1. Christine

    What is going to be done to safeguard those who will be graduating from a non-CACREP school between now and 2017? With the recent changes, I am confused if I have to be licensed before I can become a Tricare provider. I graduate May 2015. I need 2 years, at least, to complete my 3,000 supervised work hours and 100 supervision hours. The irony is, I am an Army wife of 16 1/2 years, my husband transferred his post 9/11 GI bill so I could complete my MA in Counseling Psychology, and the program I participated in for the last 20 years has been supported and encouraged by the Armed Forces in Europe for its soldiers, family members, and DA civilians. With that said, the population whom I have lived among, volunteered with over the years, and serve alongside I will not be able to help with the current state of affairs. The same entity that promoted the program I participated in is going to admonish my peers and I because we do not meet the standard! I am moving to Hawaii where there is a large military population and none of their schools are CACREP. Do the powers that be have any awareness of how many states do not have any CACREP programs? What can I do for my peers and I that have put in all this time and effort into our more than adequate education?

  2. Sonya

    I also plan to graduate in May and I am also worried. To work so hard and to still be considered 2nd rate…well that is a hard pill to swallow. But, stay encouraged are worthy!

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