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RULE PROPOSAL
VOLUME 43, ISSUE 12
ISSUE DATE:JUNE 20, 2011
Law and Public Safety
DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners
PROFESSIONAL COUNSEL EXAMINERS COMMITTEE

Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2 and 11.5

Professional Counselor: Application and Educational Requirements; Associate Counselor: Application and Educational Requirements

Authorized By: State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, Elaine DeMars, Acting Executive Director.
Authority: N.J.S.A. 45:8B-13, 45:8B-34 and 45:8B-38.
 
Calendar Reference: See Summary below for explanation of exception to calendar requirement.
Proposal Number: PRN 2011-132.
 
Submit comments by August 19, 2011 to:
   Elaine DeMars, Executive Director
   State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners
   PO Box 45007
   124 Halsey Street
   Newark, New Jersey 07101
 
The agency proposal follows:
 
Summary
The State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, in consultation with the Professional Counselor Examiners Committee (the Committee), is proposing amendments to the education requirements for applicants for licensure as professional and associate counselors. Under the Board's current rules, an applicant for licensure as a professional counselor, under N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2, and an applicant for licensure as an associate counselor, under N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.5, must have a master's degree or doctorate in counseling from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. The degree must include specific instruction in the content areas set forth in the Professional Counselor Licensing Act, N.J.S.A. 45:8B-40(c) and N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2(a)3ii and 11.5(a)3ii. Those areas include: counseling theory and practice; the helping relationship; human growth and development; lifestyle and career development; group dynamics; appraisal of individuals; social and cultural foundations; research and evaluation; and the counseling profession. Currently, the Committee reviews each applicant's coursework to determine whether the degree satisfies the content area requirements. The rules provide, however, that after October 5, 2012, in order to qualify for licensure as either a professional counselor or an associate counselor, an applicant's qualifying degree must have been obtained from a counseling degree program accredited, at the time of the applicant's graduation, by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or its successor.

Since the Board's proposal and adoption of the CACREP accreditation requirement in 2009, notice of which appeared in the New Jersey Register at 41 N.J.R. 1946(a); 3813(a), several New Jersey colleges and universities have expressed concern about the requirement, objecting in particular, to the length of time required to complete the CACREP accreditation process, and the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining this accreditation. In addition, the Red Tape Review Group (RTRG), convened in 2010 pursuant to Governor Christie's Executive Order No. 3 (2010), to review rules, regulations and processes that are a burden to New Jersey's economy, expressed concern about the CACREP accreditation requirement in N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2 and 11.5. The RTRG noted in its Findings and Recommendations that the requirement would have negative implications for New Jersey colleges and universities, forcing some to close their counseling programs. The RTRG concluded that the elimination of these counseling degree programs would decrease the number of applicants applying for licensure, eventually resulting in a shortage of licensed professional counselors available to serve the needs of New Jersey consumers.

In light of these concerns, the Board, in consultation with the Committee, is proposing to amend N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2 and 11.5 to delete the mandatory CACREP accreditation requirement that would have become operational on October 5, 2012. The change will permit applicants who graduate from non-CACREP-accredited degree programs to continue to qualify for licensure. Specifically, the proposed amendments will permit applicants to qualify for licensure if they graduate from counseling degree programs that have obtained Committee approval. In order to obtain Committee approval, a counseling degree program must submit detailed course documentation, including course descriptions and syllabi, to the Committee for review to determine whether the program meets the course content area requirements mandated under the Act and subsection (a) of the rule. In addition, the proposed amendments also permit applicants who graduate from degree programs that have not been accredited by CACREP or that have not obtained Committee approval to continue to qualify for licensure. The education of such applicants will be subject to Committee review to determine whether an individual applicants' coursework from a regionally accredited college or university satisfies the required course content areas. This review, the Board notes, will be the same as the review that all applicants for licensure currently undergo.

Under the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2(b) and 11.5(b), an applicant for licensure must submit documentation that the coursework he or she has completed meets the education requirements set forth in subsection (a) of the rule, if the applicant's official transcript has not been issued by an educational institution, which at the time of the applicant's graduation was CACREP-accredited, or had not obtained program approval from the Committee.
The Board has provided a 60-day comment period for this notice of proposal, therefore, this notice is excepted from the rulemaking calendar requirement pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:30-3.3(a)5.
 
Social Impact
The Board believes that the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2 and 11.5 will have a positive impact upon counseling degree programs in the State that have not obtained CACREP accreditation by eliminating uncertainty as to whether graduates of such programs may qualify for licensure beyond October 2012. The proposed amendments will also have a positive impact on the students enrolled in these programs. Under the proposed amendments, a student who earns a master's degree or doctorate from a counseling degree program from a regionally accredited institution of higher education not accredited by CACREP may qualify for licensure, if the degree program has obtained Committee approval or, if the program has not obtained such approval, if the applicant's individual coursework satisfies the course content area requirements established in the Board's rules. In addition, by permitting more graduates of counseling degree programs in the State to qualify for licensure, the proposed amendments may have a positive impact upon consumers to the extent that they will help ensure that a sufficient number of licensed professionals are available to provide professional counseling services in the State.
 
Economic Impact
The proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.2 and 11.5 may have a positive economic impact upon students currently enrolled in counseling degree programs that will not be CACREP-accredited by the October 5, 2012 date currently mandated in the rules. The proposed amendments will permit these students to qualify for licensure if the degree program has obtained Committee approval, or if the program has not obtained such approval, if the applicant's master's degree or doctorate meets the education requirements set forth in the rules. The proposed amendments may also have an impact on the New Jersey colleges and universities offering counseling degree programs that are not CACREP-accredited, to the extent that that the institutions choose to keep their programs open because their graduates will be permitted to qualify for licensure beyond October 2012.
 
[page=1415] Federal Standards Statement
A Federal standards analysis is not required because the proposed amendments are governed by N.J.S.A. 45:8B-1 et seq., and are not subject to any Federal standards or requirements.
 
Jobs Impact
The Board does not anticipate that the proposed amendments will result in an increase or decrease in the number of jobs in the State.
 
Agriculture Industry Impact
The proposed amendments will have no impact on the agriculture industry in the State.
 
Regulatory Flexibility Statement
The proposed amendments apply to applicants for licensure as professional and associate counselors. Applicants for licensure are not licensees and are not considered "small businesses," within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq.
 
Smart Growth Impact
The Board does not believe that the proposed amendments will have any impact upon the achievement of smart growth or upon the implementation of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan.
 
Housing Affordability Impact Analysis
The proposed amendments will have an insignificant impact on affordable housing in New Jersey and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the rules would evoke a change in the average costs associated with housing because the proposed amendments concern the education requirements for licensure as professional counselors and associate counselors.
 
Smart Growth Development Impact Analysis
The proposed amendments will have an insignificant impact on smart growth and there is an extreme unlikelihood that the rules would evoke a change in housing production in Planning Areas 1 or 2, or within designated centers, under the State Development and Redevelopment Plan in New Jersey because the proposed amendments concern the education requirements for licensure as professional counselors and associate counselors.
 
Full text of the proposed amendments follows (additions indicated in boldface thus; deletions indicated in brackets [thus]):
 
SUBCHAPTER 11.     PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS AND ASSOCIATE COUNSELORS: APPLICATION PROCEDURE; DEFINITIONS
 
13:34-11.2   Professional counselor: application and educational requirements
 
(a) (No change.)
 
[(b) On or after October 5, 2012, in order to be eligible for licensure, an applicant shall submit an official transcript(s) clearly indicating that the applicant has obtained a master's degree or doctorate from a counseling degree program accredited, at the time of the applicant's graduation, by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) or its successor.]
 
(b) An applicant shall be required to submit documentation that the coursework he or she has completed meets the education requirements set forth in (a) above, if the official transcript has not been issued by an educational institution, which at the time of the applicant's graduation:
 
1. Was accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or its successor; or
 
2. Had obtained program approval from the Committee, after its review of documentation, including course descriptions and syllabi, demonstrating that the curriculum meets the requirements set forth in (a) above.
 
13:34-11.5   Associate counselor: application and educational requirements
 
(a) (No change.)
 
[(b) On or after October 5, 2012, in order to be eligible for licensure, an applicant shall submit an official transcript(s) clearly indicating that the applicant has obtained a master's degree or doctorate from a counseling degree program accredited, at the time of the applicant's graduation, by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) or its successor.]
 
(b) An applicant shall be required to submit documentation that the coursework he or she has completed meets the education requirements set forth in (a) above, if the official transcript has not been issued by an educational institution, which at the time of the applicant's graduation:
 
1. Was accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or its successor; or
 
2. Had obtained program approval from the Committee, after its review of documentation, including course descriptions and syllabi, demonstrating that the curriculum meets the requirements set forth in (a) above.

   
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