CIU Counseling Program Strengthened with National Accreditation

February 26, 2016

Graduate students studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Columbia International University are now enrolled in a program that carries “the gold standard” in accreditation for their profession.

In February, Dr. John Harvey, dean of the program received word from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) that CIU’s Clinical Counseling program meets their criteria for accreditation, the culmination of seven years of rigorous work by the professors and staff of the program.

“Increasingly, state licensing agencies are looking for counselors who are graduates of a CACREP-accredited program,” Harvey said. “CACREP has become the ‘gold standard’ for students pursuing licensure.”

CIU is one of only three higher education institutions in South Carolina offering a CACREP-accredited master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, as well as the only Christian higher education institution in the state to do so. Only a limited number of evangelical universities in the nation have the CACREP seal of approval, making CIU attractive to counseling students seeking a program based on a biblical worldview.

“Students are looking for Clinical Counseling, a biblical worldview, and CACREP accreditation,” Harvey said. “We are now at the intersection of all three.”

Because of the counseling program’s involvement in the community, CIU now hosts continuing education conferences and workshops on campus for organizations such as the South Carolina Association for Licensed Professional Counselors (SCALPC) and the Christian Mental Health Network. In addition, to ensure that the positive changes in the counseling program continue, an advisory council consisting of regionally known leaders in mental health and education has been formed.

“We provide them with data and information on our program and ask them to give us suggestions on how we can make the program stronger,” Harvey said.  

While the goal of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has always been to facilitate the growth of Christian students into well-qualified, spiritually-healthy clinical mental health counselors, Harvey says the CACREP accreditation will open more doors for current and future students.

“It gets us in that elite group of CACREP-accredited schools, which is what students are looking for, because that’s what licensing agencies are looking for,” Harvey said. “Students will be on the cutting edge in the use of outcome measures that demonstrate treatment effectiveness and expanded opportunities for them in both Christian and secular settings.”