Council of Applied Master’s Programs in Psychology
COUNCIL OF APPLIED MASTER’S PROGRAMS IN PSYCHOLOGY
POSITION PAPER ON TRICARE AUTHORIZATION OF LICENSED PROFESSIONAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS
The Council of Applied Master’s Programs in Psychology is pleased that the Department of Defense will consider formal recognition of licensed professional counselors as independently practicing mental health specialists within the reimbursement structure of TRICARE. This is an important means of expanding the pool of mental health service providers available to meet the growing treatment needs of our nation’s service members, veterans and their families.
It is our understanding that TRICARE, following recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), will recognize as independent practitioners licensed professional counselors (LPCs) who are graduates of accredited master’s degree programs. The Council of Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is one such accrediting body. While we applaud TRICARE for setting high standards for their licensed professional counselor providers, it is important to note that program accreditation by CACREP is not the only means of assuring quality standards in education and training, nor is it the only professional accrediting body for counseling training programs. Requiring that LPCs eligible for TRICARE reimbursement be graduates of CACREP-accredited programs unduly limits the number of licensed professional counselors available to serve the nation’s veterans.
Professional counselors are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia as master’s level mental health service providers, meeting education, training, and examination requirements and having scopes of practice similar to marriage and family therapy and clinical social work. In 40 states, graduates of master’s programs in counseling psychology are licensed to practice as mental health counselors. Private sector health plans have reimbursed licensed professional counselors (LPCs) as independent mental health service providers for many years.
Many of these licensed professional counselors are trained to the highest standards and are graduates of programs accredited by the Masters in Psychology Accreditation Committee (MPAC) or the Masters in Counseling Accreditation Committee (MCAC), both part of their parent organization, The Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).
It is laudable that TRICARE seeks to ensure that those who serve our nation in the military receive only the highest quality mental health care, while expanding the number of service providers eligible to treat them and their families. We hope that TRICARE will recognize the excellent care provided by counselors who are graduates of accredited programs, including graduates of programs accredited by the only other national professional accrediting body, the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.