Two counseling programs within Harding University’s Cannon-Clary College of Education have been granted accreditation status by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The clinical mental health counseling and school counseling graduate programs were awarded an eight-year term extending until March 2023.
The CACREP board made their decision to award the programs accreditation status following a November 2014 campus evaluation by the organization’s site visit team. The organization examined every aspect of the program including curriculum, faculty, facilities and resources.
“When the news came of the eight-year approval, it was far beyond what we had been told was the probable outcome,” said President Bruce McLarty. “I never felt that Dr. Jenene Alexander and her team deserved anything less than the best possible result, but having our confidence in them and their work affirmed by such a reputable accreditation agency is a tremendous blessing for Harding University.”
Though customary for newly accredited programs to receive a two-year term, both programs were awarded an eight-year accreditation after a three-year process of creating a more than 800-page document and meeting CACREP’s 292 program standards. Prior to applying for accreditation, CACREP required each program to have eight years of classes and course work implementation. Both programs were launched in 2002, and the University began the accreditation process with CACREP in 2010.
“When we began this program, we began it with the idea that we would seek CACREP accreditation, and our first program was written to CACREP standards,” said Dr. Tony Finley, dean of the College of Education. “We’ve been writing with that in mind since the beginning. That way there wouldn’t be major changes.”
Known as one of the most rigorous accrediting bodies for counseling programs, CACREP will break down state-to-state and military-related barriers and provide Harding University students with an easy method for receiving a license in any state. In addition, the programs’ accreditation provides more opportunities to work with the U.S. military.
“It’s really wonderful. It is unbelievable how much time and effort has gone into this,” Finley said. “It also gives Harding the opportunity to expand its programs to more areas and more people because CACREP gives students more opportunities.”
The University’s Master of Science in Professional School Counseling program provides opportunities in K-12 school counseling. The Master of Science/Educational Specialist in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program provides opportunities in areas such as adult, premarital, couples, self-injurious behaviors, and career counseling in addition to conflict resolution, problems in childhood, educational issues, psychotherapy and research. Both programs are directed by Alexander. Programs are offered on the Searcy and Rogers, Arkansas, campuses and currently serve approximately 100 students led by four full-time faculty members, two staff members and several adjunct instructors.
“Going forward, the eight-year accreditation will give students great confidence in the quality of this program and will free the administration and faculty to devote their full attention to training excellent counselors who are going to help untold numbers of people and make the world a better place,” McLarty said.