Our Board of Directors decided at our last meeting that our Spring Conference should be both a conference and a retreat. We decided that we needed a retreat involving all of our past leadership and interested members, because our association is looking for a wider base of endorsement, input, and support for several critical initiatives involving political advocacy at the national level.
For those who have been following our association's affairs over the last several years, you probably know that not only have we been advocating for Maryland LCPCs at the state level but also at the national level. Our foray into national professional affairs was not planned or anticipated, but it came about because of a national movement to restrict licensure and federal recognition to the graduates of CACREP approved programs. This movement, often referred to as the CACREP-only movement, placed our state in a peculiar position, since historically only one of our graduate programs was CACREP accredited. The CACREP-only movement also will not generally recognize Master's Degree Programs in Counseling or Clinical Psychology; and some of its proponents argue that psychology graduates at the master's level have the professional identity of psychologists and not counselors and, therefore, should not be recognized as part of the counseling profession. In Maryland, we have always recognized these graduates as mental health counselors, so this was a second point of contention.
Your state association has vigorously tried to advocate for inclusiveness and a more expansive definition of mental health counseling so that all feel welcomed in our profession who have traditionally identified themselves as mental health counselors. We agree that our field needs to do more work in promoting consistency in state licensure laws to allow easier portability of licenses across states and to answer the need of federal agencies for this uniformity. However, we want to insure the graduates of non-CACREP programs do not lose status or recognition, as has happened in TRICARE, the Veteran's Administration, and other DOD programs. We have some valid concerns that this trend could continue, if we do not engage the CACREP-only movement politically and work to create national policies that protect veteran counselors, with fair grandfathering provisions, as our profession evolves. Sadly, we have not seen the protection or level of advocacy we hoped for and, therefore, we decided to mobilize the national advocacy that we felt was desperately needed.
We have had many successes in our advocacy, but we need to be re-invigorated with new energy, ideas, and support. There has never been a time when we needed volunteers for our board and our political advocacy more than now. If you are interested in coming to our retreat in April, please contact me, because we need your support to protect and further the interests of our members and our profession in Maryland and nationally. Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested in joining us in April. We are in the process of finalizing the Spring Conference and Retreat details and will communicate dates and the location in the near future.
Have a very Happy New Year! And thank you for considering this request.
Larry Epp, LCPC
President, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors of Maryland