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UW’s Counselor Education Programs Accredited for Eight-Year Maximum


August 13, 2012 — All three University of Wyoming counselor education graduate degree programs have received the maximum possible reaccreditation from the national organization that certifies institutional curricular and clinical quality.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) granted eight-year accreditation for UW’s M.S. in mental health counseling, M.S. in school counseling, and Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision. All three programs are housed in the UW College of Education Department of Professional Studies.

The decisions follow an extensive self-study by UW counselor education program faculty, submitted in spring 2011, and a CACREP review board site visit in April 2012.

Faculty members spent several months gathering evidence -- including class syllabi, recruitment procedures, rubrics for grading and recruitment -- to demonstrate fulfillment for every set of standards. The CACREP site review team spent several days at UW, touring clinic facilities and interviewing faculty, students, alumni, supervisors, administrators and others.

To qualify for the eight-year maximum reaccreditation, UW’s programs had to meet every one of an extensive set of institutional and program standards. Few programs reach this level of accomplishment, according to Mary Alice Bruce, chairperson of the UW Department of Professional Studies. Most programs receive a shorter accreditation period -- usually two years -- along with requests for additional documentation or a list of actions to meet standards not met.

“Programs receiving accreditation for an eight-year period deserve to be commended for the work they completed throughout the accreditation process,” CACREP President and CEO Carol Bobby says.

“It really is assurance to our graduates, their clients, employers and supervisors that they are well prepared,” Bruce says of the latest CACREP accreditation. “Our students have the skills, knowledge and practical experience needed to do their jobs.”

When paired with several years of consistently higher-than-average scores on the National Counselor Examination, UW counselor education graduates receive multiple layers of assurance affirming program quality.

A significant factor contributing to the strength of UW’s counselor education programs is the student body itself, Bruce says. Students recruited to the programs are “really excellent.”

Once at UW, they encounter faculty committed to researching best practices in the field and in implementing that new knowledge into their teaching, clinical practice and supervision of students.

The third essential element to UW student success, according to Bruce: early and ongoing opportunities for clinical practice and observation. Master’s level counselor education students begin seeing clients as early as their second semester, receiving on-site support and feedback. Students counsel members of the UW community, UW lab school students and other Laramie residents as available in the college’s on-site counseling clinic. This gives them real-world practice working with clients of all ages, from childhood through mature adulthood, versus role-playing and other simulated experiences.

Photo:
Kara Carnes-Holt, assistant professor of counselor education, performs a puppet show with Anistyn Holt at the University of Wyoming's Rocky Mountain Center of Play Therapy Studies. All three University of Wyoming counselor education graduate degree programs have received the maximum possible reaccreditation from the national organization that certifies institutional curricular and clinical quality. (UW Photo)

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