CORE/CACREP Merger- what you need to know:

What are CORE and CACREP?

CORE, or the Council on Rehabilitation Education, and CACREP, or the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, are two accrediting bodies for the counseling profession and related specialties. CORE has been operating since the early 1970s, using empirically based standards to consistently provide accreditation for rehabilitation counseling programs at the Master’s level, which prepare future Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. CACREP was established in 1981 using standards created by the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), and implemented by the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA, a precursor to ACA).

What actually happened?
In July 2015, CORE and CACREP signed a merger agreement between the two accreditation bodies following many years of collaboration and an official affiliation that was established in 2013. The two groups feel that “their vision for a unified counseling profession is better realized through a merger of both organizations”. As of July 1, 2017, CACREP will officially take over and CORE will no longer exist. In the interim, since the official announcement of the merger, rehabilitation counselor education programs, both at the Master’s level and at the doctoral level have been given notice regarding requirements for renewing accreditations, and for applying for accreditation at the doctoral level for the first time. In October 2015, a press release went out to the public which announced the requirement of doctoral programs to obtain accreditation, which had not been required under CORE. Programs were asked to seek accreditation through an abbreviated selfstudy, following CACREP standards for doctoral accreditation. At the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) Spring Conference in April, CORE and CACREP announced plans to accept one final round of applications for CORE accredited programs who are seeking dual accreditation status as both a Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Previously, programs could be dually accredited as a Rehabilitation Counseling and Mental Health Counseling program

What is going to change in the immediate future?
clarity on undergraduate programs CACREP does not accredit undergraduate programs and has no foreseeable plans to do so in the future. Programs that have been accredited by CORE will likely be put on a registry with CACREP.
In 2017, CORE will no longer exist, and CACREP will be the only accrediting body for counselor education and related specialties CACREP is to adopt CORE’s standards to be used going forward, and disability studies are to be infused into counselor education programs going forward

What has already changed?
To date, there has still been some confusion surrounding the merger, even following CORE/CACREP webinars and meetings for clarity. Thus far, in what’s been called Phase I, doctoral programs have been asked to submit their abbreviated self studies,
which allows for an expedited process of accreditation, as previously under CORE, doctoral programs did not require accreditation. Some of the specifics that are notable include:
● “For entry level programs, the academic unit must employ a minimum of three full-time
core counselor education program faculty members who teach in the entry level
program. Core counselor education program faculty may only be designated as core
faculty at one institution.” (CACREP Standards, Section 1.R, 2016)
● Core faculty student ratio changed from 10:1 to 12:1
Phase II was announced in April 2016 at the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE)’s Spring conference. This was an opportunity for programs who were interested to have a last chance to submit applications for dual accreditation through CACREP as both Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs.

How does this impact members of MRA?
This merger has come to fruition as a result of lack of strength in professional associations acting to protect the field of rehabilitation counseling, and rehabilitation counselor education. As such, members should be paying attention to any and all information coming out about the merger in the future so as to protect the field going forward. As currently certified rehabilitation counselors and/or licensed counselors or nationally certified counselors, changes in the education of preservice counselor’s is largely important. Specifically, the development of “clinical rehabilitation counseling” as a track for MA students will only serve to further fragment the field, now separating “traditional rehab” and “clinical rehab” without any empirical basis for doing so. Rehabilitation counseling and the roles and functions embedded in this field has been empirically established and upheld for decades. An interruption of this, in conjunction with the deprofessionalization we were unable to stop in WIOA, leaves us vulnerable to having our roles taken over by more established, and unified, professions such as social work, nursing, or special education teachers. Rehabilitation counselors are still the most prepared group of professionals trained in working with individuals with disabilities, and advocating and promoting the field should be the responsibility of all who are interested in it’s well being.