February 17, 1998
KALAMAZOO -- The Counseling and Testing Center at Western Michigan University has been recognized nationally for the quality of its professional services and of its graduate training.
Not only has the center been reaccredited as a service provider by the International Association of Counseling Services Inc., but its pre-doctoral internship program has been granted first-time accreditation by the American Psychological Association.
"The center's reaccreditation means that it meets high professional standards in areas such as clinical performance, ethical standards and staffing," said Dr. Norman M. Kiracofe, center director and professor of counseling. "This assures the University community that our standard of care and overall operations are appropriate and dependable."
The IACS is an organization of U.S. and Canadian counseling agencies based in Alexandria, Va. It was founded to encourage and help counseling agencies to meet high professional standards through peer evaluation and to inform the public about counseling services that are competent and reliable.
Counseling centers and agencies accredited by the IACS are re-evaluated every five years. WMU's facility, initially accredited by the IACS's predecessor, has been reaccredited continuously since 1964.
Accreditation of the Counseling and Testing Center's internship program in professional psychology by the nation's largest organization of psychologists is equally significant, Kiracofe said.
"That seal of approval is valuable because most psychology-related doctoral programs, including those at WMU, require students to complete a year-long, APA-approved internship or its equivalent," he said.
"There are only about 450 APA-approved doctoral training sites in the United States and Canada, so competition to get an internship is great," Kiracofe added. "Last year, over 300 doctoral students were unable to find an internship."
The Counseling and Testing Center began its march toward achieving accreditation for its internship program in 1990-91, the same academic year it offered its first formal internship. Other health care organizations with approved training programs besides university counseling centers include mental health agencies, veterans facilities, hospitals and medical schools.
WMU's center annually offers three APA-approved clinical and counseling psychology internship appointments. Interns are selected from a nationwide pool and prepared for a generalist practice. The internships are 2,000-hour, fully funded experiences based on the scholar-practitioner model of training.
"Our professional staff members are faculty members," Kiracofe said of the training model used. "As such, they not only provide counseling services and graduate training, but actively engage in research, consultation and other scholarly endeavors."
That model earned high marks from accrediting committee members, who based their evaluation on a self-study report, site team visit and WMU's response to the site team's report.
In recommending accreditation, the APA committee also cited the center's broad range of services, which allows students to obtain a variety of clinical and counseling experiences, and the center's staff members, who were judged to provide quality supervision and serve as excellent role models. The program's next review will take place in 2000.
The Counseling and Testing Center offers personal, academic and career counseling and testing services to WMU students. Part of the Division of Student Affairs, it is the University's primary facility for providing counseling services.
In addition to personal counseling, it provides career counseling and testing, educational counseling, a career exploration and media center, and outreach and consultation services as well as national professional standardized testing services. The center also maintains a substance abuse program licensed by the state of Michigan that provides outpatient prevention, assessment and treatment services for students.
Staff members include clinical and counseling psychologists, licensed counselors, a certified drug and alcohol therapist, pre-doctoral interns and graduate assistant trainees.
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