The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation to the Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) in the Seminary of Lincoln Christian University.
CACREP is recognized nationally for ensuring that counseling programs meet the gold standard of educational requirements for professional counselors.
The addition of CACREP accreditation does not change the purpose of LCU’s MA in Counseling program, which is to help students integrate a Biblical worldview with current and historical psychological theories and evidence-based, developmentally sound counseling methods in order to assist students to grow in counseling competencies, spiritual well-being, interpersonal relationships and personal awareness.
At this time, it appears that Lincoln Christian Seminary’s MAC is the only faith-based program in Illinois to be CACREP accredited and one of very few schools in the nation with a Clinical Mental Health program that has both accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and CACREP. This is a significant milestone, signaling LCU’s excellent quality of graduate-level education to both students and their future employers.
According to LCU the MAC Program Director and Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Dr. Nolan Thomas, “Some of the gains include recognition as a school whose program meets national standards, quicker access to testing after graduation, a program that practices self-evaluation, development and self-directed improvement and a program that is recognized by its peers.”
Research has demonstrated that students who graduate from a CACREP school score higher on the National Counselor Exam than those who come from a non-CACREP school and are less likely to be involved in ethical violations.
Dr. Thomas explains, “CACREP accreditation is becoming the standard for entrance into future academic work.”
There are currently approximately 60 students enrolled in the program at Lincoln Christian Seminary. Students come primarily from Illinois and Indiana as well as from LCU’s School of Undergraduate Studies and other Bible colleges. The program is for a 60-hour master’s degree with classes presented in on-campus, online and intensive formats.
The path to CACREP accreditation began under former professors Dr. Paul Boatman and Tom Ewald and was passed on to current Clinical Mental Health Professors Dr. Nolan Thomas, Dr. Kim Baldwin and Dr. Tara Samples. Two years of course review and revisions led to an application followed by a site visit this past January. The CACREP approval letter states, “The faculty members deserve to be congratulated for the time, energy, and commitment that they have given throughout this accreditation process.”
CACREP standards are divided into three categories covering The Learning Environment, Professional Identity and Professional Practice. There is an additional set of standards for a clinical mental health counseling program.
The accreditation is for a two-year period. At the end of that time, LCU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling faculty will need to address the conditions upon which the program accreditation was given and will be in a position to be awarded another six years of accredited status before the next review.
Dr. Thomas wanted to recognize those who helped in this process, “Our thanks are shared to CACREP for the vision they have for the counseling community and those who worked with them, including our site visitors. Thanks are given to the administration at Lincoln Christian University for their support of this process. Thanks are given to the MAC faculty for their work in building, processing, writing, reviewing, developing and living the process. Thanks also are given to those who came before us and began developing the accreditation vision for the MAC program at Lincoln Christian University.”