Faculty News

Patrick Akos receives Robert O. Stripling Award for Excellence in Standards

Based on his work as a member of the Standards Revision Committee of the national Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Associate Professor Patrick Akos is one of 10 recipients of the 2009 Robert O. Stripling Award for Excellence in Standards. The committee members, along with the CACREP staff, were selected to receive the award this year.

The award was presented at a luncheon hosted by the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) during the world conference of the American Counseling Association in Charlotte, N.C., March 22, 2009.

ACES presents this award annually. Through the accreditation process and professional development activities, ACES strives to improve the education, credentialing and supervision of counselors. The organization’s ultimate goal, according to its Web site, is “to advance counselor education and supervision in order to improve the provision of counseling services in all settings of society.”

The six-member Standards Revision Committee was formed in the fall of 2004 and charged with revising the standards for the preparation of counselors. The committee members began a four-year process, first surveying members of the profession to determine what areas should be addressed in the new standards, then developing three drafts and making each one available for comments from constituents as well as making presentations at national and regional conferences to elicit feedback.

After receiving more than 1,000 responses to each draft, the committee reviewed and categorized the responses, worked to reconcile opposing positions on critical elements, ultimately finalized the new standards and presented them to the CACREP Board of Directors for adoption in the summer of 2008. The entire process took a year longer than originally expected.

The revisions made to the new standards “represent a dramatic shift in the professional identity of counseling,” wrote one nominator.

 “I believe that history will reflect that the 2009 CACREP Standards were a milestone in the development of the counseling profession,” wrote another.

The new standards are “the first outcome-based track-specific standards in the history of counselor accreditation,” a nominator explained. “This focus on Student Learning Outcomes is essential to insure that the accreditation of counselor preparation programs continues to be governed by members of the profession rather than being subjected to external (i.e., governmental) influences and controls.”

In addition, the new standards “substantially strengthen the long-term identity of the counseling profession by insuring that professional counselors are trained primarily by counselor educators …  and by placing limits on the use of non-core faculty,” stated another nominator. 

The committee members were commended for the quality of their work, the extensiveness and thoroughness of the process, and the high level of professionalism they maintained throughout their “labor of love” in completing this monumental body of work.

“Drafted standards that threaten the continued accreditation of individual programs often trigger emotional responses,” wrote a nominator. “In some instances, the committee members and staff were verbally attacked in public forums. … [They] consistently responded with a high level of integrity and professionalism.”

Other major changes to the standards include the development, enhancement and integration across the curriculum of standards for addiction counseling, emergency preparedness counseling and multicultural counseling. The new standards will govern counselor preparation for the next seven years. 

In addition to Akos, the other committee members were:

  • Mary Alice Bruce, University of Wyoming, Laramie
  • Harry Daniels, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Tom Davis (chair), University of Ohio University, Athens
  • Rick Gressard, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Jo-Ann Lipford Sanders, Heidelberg College, Tiffin, Ohio

CACREP staff who worked on the revision process were:

  • Carolyn Beckett
  • Carol Bobby
  • Jenny Gunderman
  • Robert Urofsky

The award’s namesake, Robert O. Stripling, has been recognized as one of the individuals who has had the greatest influence in developing counselor education programs at universities throughout the United States during the 50-year period from 1940-1990. Stripling was a longtime faculty member at the University of Florida. The award honors Stripling’s memory by recognizing persons who have shown commitment to advancing standards and credentialing for counselor education and supervision.