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Credentialing Professional Counselors for the 21st Century
Author: John W. Bloom
In spite of the absence of a master plan, counseling has emerged as a profession and there is much to celebrate (Myers, 1995; Sweeney, 1995).
This digest will focus on various issues facing national counselor certification boards, state counselor licensure boards, and those they have credentialed, as we approach the 21st century.
Landmark Events in Credentialing
In two short decades impressive strides have been made in establishing state and national credentialing systems for professional counselors. Landmark events include the 1976 establishment of the first state board of professional counselor examiners in Virginia and the establishment of NBCC in 1984. Other significant events include the 1963 establishment of the Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC) licensure process by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) in California (Eubanks, 1995), the founding of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification in 1973 and the start of the Academy for Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors in 1978 (Forrest & Stone, 1991).
The 21st Century
If credentialing systems for professional counselors are to remain viable in the 21st century, professional counselors, state licensure boards and national certification bodies must not rest on their laurels, but must continue to be aggressive in their attempts to address issues and concerns such as the following:
Previous publications have addressed the evolution of counselor credentialing in the 1970s, 80s and 90s (Dingman, 1988; Bradley, 1991). This digest collection will examine current issues as well as take a glimpse into the future. Two professional organizations, critical to the credentialing of all professions, the National Association for Competency Assurance (NOCA) and the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) are discussed by Kara Schmitt and Thomas Clawson respectively. Virginia Villareal Mann proposes an examination of diversity issues facing counselor credentialing bodies and Timothy Thomason suggests competencies which counselors may need to work effectively with Native Americans.
A new credentialing process for addictions counselors is presented by Gregory Robinson and Richard Page while Robert Dingman explores credentialing issues faced by disaster mental health counselors. Protecting the public and the high cost of doing so are discussed by former and present public NBCC board representatives, Eugene Lehrmann and Robert Shreve, and by NBCC attorney, Richard Goldman.
Susan Eubanks, NBCC's Director of Professional Relations, presents statistics regarding the general and specialty practice of professional counseling as well as current state credentialing board directory information. Two long-standing credentialing issues are examined here. Richard Percy looks at the teaching experience requirement for school counselors and Peter Emerson of AASCB revisits reciprocity among credentialing boards.
Larry Loesch, Nicholas Vacc and James Sampson discuss current assessment practices in credentialing and DiAnne Borders looks at various supervision issues facing credentialing boards. Finally, Harriet Glosoff explains the role of the American Counseling Association with regard to counselor licensure laws.
I have personally been involved in the credentialing movement for more than 15 years and marvel at how far counseling has progressed as a profession under the visionary and determined leadership of Tom Sweeney, Lloyd Stone, David Brooks, Jim Messina, Bob Dingman, Larry Gerstein, Joyce Breasure, Thomas Clawson, Jane Myers and many others. Hopefully their contributions and those of the present authors will keep the counseling profession focused for the 21st century.
Bradley, F. O. (Ed.). (1991). Credentialing in counseling. Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.
Dingman, R. (Ed.). (1988). Licensure for mental health counselors. Alexandria, VA: American Mental Health Counselors Association.
Eubanks, S. H. (1995). State credentialing boards directory. In J. W. Bloom (Ed.), Credentialing counselors for the 21st century (pp. ). Greensboro, NC: ERIC/CASS.
Forrest, D. V. & Stone, L. A. (1991). Counselor certification. In F.O. Bradley (Ed.), Credentialing in counseling (pp. 13-21). Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.
Hosie, T. W. (1991). Historical antecedents and current status of counselor licensure. In F.O. Bradley (Ed.), Credentialing in counseling (pp. 22-51). Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.
Myers, J. E. (Ed.). (1995). Specialties in counseling: Rich heritage or force for fragmentation? Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 115-116.
Sweeney, T. J. (1995). Accreditation, credentialing, professionalization: The role of specialties. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74,117-125.
John W. Bloom is a counselor educator at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff and 1995-96 Board Chair, National Board for Certified Counselors.
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