Counseling Division Leads Self-Study for CACREP Accreditation


by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)

With the sustained demand for well-trained, licensed counselors in the marketplace and changing requirements for master's program graduates seeking state licensure, the seminary has undertaken steps to ensure long-term sustainability and flourishing of its Master of Arts in Counseling degree program. Led by Counseling Division faculty, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is in the process of completing a self-study in order to apply for accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

"Many states have begun requiring graduation from a CACREP accredited institution in order to be licensed as a counselor in that state," Tara Kram, associate dean of GRTS, said. "Michigan has not done so yet, but it is possible they will go that direction in the future. By 2022, we need to have CACREP accreditation in order for our students to take the National Board of Certified Counselors' National Counselor Examination which the state of Michigan requires for state licensure."

Despite its good standing as an accredited member with the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission, GRTS enacted new processes and counseling-related initiatives in preparation for a thorough program review by CACREP.

"We made several substantial changes to the program in order to align with CACREP standards," Kram said. "We hired a third counseling faculty member, developed a more thorough assessment process to inform programmatic decisions and evaluated the M.A. Counseling program in its entirety—new student learning outcomes, macro-level textbook selections for program consistency and comprehensive training for adjunct faculty and internship supervisors—for curricular alignment with CACREP standards."

Although students and alumni do not have a formal role in the seminary's self-study process, GRTS has provided results from past institutional surveys to the accreditation organization.