Therapistemology

2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2017
26
3
Hello:

I am interested in applying to MFT and LPC programs in the Bay Area. There are a few programs I'm interested in that are accredited not by the national body (CACREP/COAMFTE) but they are accredited by a regional body (e.g. the Wright Institute is WASC accredited) and on California's Board of Licensure's list of programs that "meet state licensure requirements."

My question is:

For both obtaining an internship and being a marketable candidate for group practices and institutional settings, what is the difference between going a school that is COAMFTE/CACREP accredited vs. regionally accredited?

Thank you for your time.
 

R. Matey

5+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2014
149
83
Status
Psychology Student
National accreditation will make you more competitive overall for positions. Regional accreditation can be limiting. It might inhibit your ability to get licensed in certain states.


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MAClinician

Masters level clinician
2+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2016
254
229
Status
Non-Student
Hello:

I am interested in applying to MFT and LPC programs in the Bay Area. There are a few programs I'm interested in that are accredited not by the national body (CACREP/COAMFTE) but they are accredited by a regional body (e.g. the Wright Institute is WASC accredited) and on California's Board of Licensure's list of programs that "meet state licensure requirements."

My question is:

For both obtaining an internship and being a marketable candidate for group practices and institutional settings, what is the difference between going a school that is COAMFTE/CACREP accredited vs. regionally accredited?

Thank you for your time.
I’m not sure if you are understanding the differences between education accreditation, program accreditation, and licensure. Education accreditation means the school/university/education institute you attended has met minimum standards for teaching students and overall operations. There are six regional accreditation bodies for this. You can not receive federal financial aid to attend a school if it is not regionally accredited. Heck, you might not even be able to get private loans but I’m not 100% sure. It’s the government’s way of protecting the public/itself from being taken advantage of by large organizations or institutions. Program accreditation is provided by the professional body in a specific field of study. Psychology, counseling, business, culinary, design all have their own accrediting organizations that show a program has met the minimum requirements in its field for best practices etc. That is CACREP COAMFTE APA blah blah blah. Licensure is the governments way of protecting the public from harm and demonstrates minimum competency in the field of licensure. Most state regulations for licensure will require a degree from a regional educational accredited school to even consider the licensure application. Some states require program specific accreditation but not all do. In theory, you could attend a regional and program accredited school and obtain licensure or a regional accredited program and obtain licensure. The WASC school program might also meet the CACREP standards but never applied for it. Or maybe it only meets CA’s requirements and if you ever end up moving out of state you run the risk of screwing yourself.

Either way, the advice you have consistently received in several of your posts is to not limit yourself by avoiding crap programs from the beginning and that remains true to this post as well. There are no shortcuts in the field of behavioral health. Good luck.
 
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Therapistemology

2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2017
26
3
I am clear on the distinctions and not interested in crap programs. I am interested in knowing the risks, concerning both getting an internship and getting hired at a group practice or institution, of attending a program at a reputable institution that meets the state requirements for licensure, but that has only regional rather than national accreditation, or perhaps no accreditation at all. For example USC has an MFT program which meets the California Board of Behavioral Science requirements for licensure, but it is not accredited. It's hard to imagine USC's MFT program is crap.
 

R. Matey

5+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2014
149
83
Status
Psychology Student
I am clear on the distinctions and not interested in crap programs. I am interested in knowing the risks, concerning both getting an internship and getting hired at a group practice or institution, of attending a program at a reputable institution that meets the state requirements for licensure, but that has only regional rather than national accreditation, or perhaps no accreditation at all. For example USC has an MFT program which meets the California Board of Behavioral Science requirements for licensure, but it is not accredited. It's hard to imagine USC's MFT program is crap.
So, some states require national accreditation for licensure at the M.A. level. If you don't have it, your application will likely be passed up in favor of applicants who do. This is a competitive field. Some organizations (e.g.: VAs) will not even consider your application it is doesn't meet what are seen as basic requirements, which often includes accreditation from a CHEA accredited body. The moral of the story is that going to a nationally accredited program opens doors for you that going to a regionally accredited program doesn't. You can do it if you want to, but you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

The reputation of the institution doesn't matter as much as the accreditation does. For instance, NYU's counseling program is not CACREP accredited. It's MPCAC accredited. This means that in some states (i.e.: Oregon) you can hold a degree in counseling from NYU and not be able to be licensed because the program is not CACREP accredited. If you can get licensed in CA without meeting the national requirements, that's fine. But don't expect to be seen as meeting the national standard as this is the whole point of accreditation.
 
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Therapistemology

2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2017
26
3
What a helpful response! Thank you so much for your time and that level of detail and nuance.

An additional question: Palo Alto University, which is CACREP accredted, offers an online program. I have heard that online programs are often not respected; would this only be the case if it is an online-only program? That is, when I'm applying for jobs, my resume will say only Palo Alto University - there would be no indication that it was online. Do you have a sense of whether online cancels out CACREP in terms of marketability -- or does that only apply to the for-profit online diploma mill type places?
 

R. Matey

5+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2014
149
83
Status
Psychology Student
What a helpful response! Thank you so much for your time and that level of detail and nuance.

An additional question: Palo Alto University, which is CACREP accredted, offers an online program. I have heard that online programs are often not respected; would this only be the case if it is an online-only program? That is, when I'm applying for jobs, my resume will say only Palo Alto University - there would be no indication that it was online. Do you have a sense of whether online cancels out CACREP in terms of marketability -- or does that only apply to the for-profit online diploma mill type places?

Personally I’m no fan of online counseling programs accredited or not. Counseling is a skills based profession which requires live supervision, training, and feedback. It’s difficult to get that experience in an online program to the same degree that you could in a brick and mortar institution. Regardless of whether or not potential employers would know, you’re likely trading training for convenience. I’ve worked with people from online programs and I can tell the difference. In CMHCs where having a pulse is the only job requirement, it may not matter. For designer PP life, the quality of your work, which begins with your training is what you’re selling.

I’ve seen name brand institutions leverage their reputations to market online courses to people for vast sums of money to make a quick buck. Sounds like Palo Alto is doing this. Even if potential employers wouldn’t really know the difference ostensibly, I’d be suspicious if I was reviewing applications and knew about an online program.


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