College of Allied Health Sciences
Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies

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MS, Clinical Counseling (formerly Substance Abuse & Clinical Counseling)

Accreditation, Licensure, Certification and Code of Ethics



Master's Degree Programs

There are two national accreditation organizations that set the preparation standards for university-based counselor education programs: The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).

Both CACREP and CORE have similar counselor preparation standards, with both requiring general counseling standards. In addition to the general standards, CACREP provides standards for Addiction Counseling; Career Counseling; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling; School Counseling, Student Affairs and College Counseling, and Counselor Education and Supervision. CORE provides standards related to physical disorders and disabilities. Both require minimum semester hours (60 for CACREP and 48 for CORE), 100 hours of supervised counseling practicum, and 600 hours of internship experience for accreditation. Counselor education programs have specialty preparation standards that typically require a minimum of 12 semester hours of specialty-specific training and supervised counseling experience. The master's degree is considered the professional practice degree in the counseling profession. Graduates from CACREP or CORE accredited counselor education programs are as qualified and skilled as those from related mental health professional disciplines.

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

CACREP was established in 1981 and sets the standards and accredits master's degree programs in seven specific program areas discussed above. CACREP is an independent agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and provides a list of accredited counselor education programs offering masters' and doctoral degrees in counseling on their website ( which also lists contact information for related counseling organizations including professional associations, accreditation, and certification.

The Clinical Counseling Program is a Clinical Mental Health Counseling CACREP accredited program. The benefits of CACREP accreditation include:
   * Enhancement of program evaluation
   * Continuous programmatic quality improvement
   * Enriched student experience through a dedicated commitment to the highest academic standards
   * Meets current and future licensure and employment standards for clinical mental health counselors

Licensure and Certification

Licensure is a state-level activity. Counselor certifications are either national or state in scope.


Depending on each state counselor regulatory legislation, becoming state licensed as a professional counselor lets the public know that the counselor is qualified to provide general mental health assessments, counseling, and other psychotherapeutic services to treat individuals with mental disorders and related mental health issues. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have counselor licensure or related regulatory laws for the practice of counseling and/or the use of the "counselor" title. All state counselor licensure laws require a minimum of a master's degree in counseling or a closely related area, supervised work experience, and the passing of an approved examination. In addition, most states require a minimum number of graduate credit hours of counselor training (usually 48 to 60 semester credit hours) and two to three years of post master's degree supervised counseling experience in order to become licensed. Professional counselors must be licensed in order to practice independently and enter private practice in states which have counselor licensure laws.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Graduates of the Clinical Counseling program (62 semester hours) are eligible for North Carolina licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) after two years of post masters counseling experience and the passing of an exam. State counselor licensure went into effect July 1, 1994 and is required to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and for private counseling practice. Insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield in North Carolina, have included LPCs as recognized mental health providers of counseling and psychotherapy services. Most states have reciprocity arrangements for the LPC or equivalent credential

  • Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS)

Graduates of the Clinical Counseling Program are eligible for the LCAS status after 1 year of post-graduate practice overseen by a supervisor with the Certification in Clinical Supervision (CCS) or Clinical Supervisor –Intern (CSI) credential, and passing of an exam

For additional information about counselor licensure see the American Association of State Counseling Boards website (, which lists contact information of all state counselor licensure boards.


Counselor certifications indicate those specialty areas of counseling and psychotherapy in which the counselor has received additional training and supervised counseling experience.

There are two main national counselor certifying bodies: The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). States regulate the practice of substance abuse counseling through licensure and/or certification. The North Carolina Substance Abuse and Professional Practice Board ( provides both licensure (i.e. LCAS) and certification (e.g. Certified Substance Abuse Counselor; CSAC) for substance abuse professionals in North Carolina. The International Certification and Reciprocity Commission (IC&RC) sets the minimum standards for states to follow in regulating substance abuse practice

National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

The NBCC, established in 1982, sets standards and offers four certifications, including general counseling (NCC; National Certified Counselor), and the specialty areas of clinical mental health counseling (CCMHC), addictions counseling (MAC), and school counseling (NCSC). NBCC has approximately 42,000 counselors.

Other Licensing or Certifying Organizations

All states require school counselors to hold state school counseling certification. Other national and state organizations and agencies have set standards and offer licensure or certifications to qualified counselors in such areas as career counseling, case management, disability management, hypnotherapy, marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, transactional analysis, rehabilitation counseling. 

State counselor licensure boards and the national certification organizations require an examination to achieve their credentials and continuing education in order to maintain them. Counselors are required to follow the code of ethics associated with their respective licensure and certification boards

Code of Ethics

Students enrolled in the Clinical Counseling program at East Carolina University must abide by the following codes of ethics:

  • American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics

Students and graduates are encouraged to join ACA (, the North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA, and the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina (LPCANC, Graduates are encouraged to earn their Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential, which is required to practice counseling in North Carolina, unless exempted by holding other mental health licenses or working in certain governmental settings. LPCs in North Carolina are required to follow the ACA code of ethics which can be obtained online at .

  • North Carolina Substance Abuse and Professional Practice Board (NCSAPPB) Code of Ethics

Master's graduates in Clinical Counseling are encouraged to seek the Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LCAS) credential from the North Carolina Substance Abuse and Professional Practice Board. The LCAS credential is desired, and sometimes required, in substance abuse treatment programs in North Carolina. The NCSAPPB's code of ethics can be found online at

Written Endorsement for Credentials and Employment

Graduates of the Clinical Counseling program typically seek the Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LSAS) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credentials after graduation. (See the Department's website under "Student Resources" for a summary of the criteria for these credentials.)

Faculty routinely complete the appropriate forms, verifying completion of supervised clinical field experiences, in order to endorse those graduates successfully completing the Counseling Practicum and Internship with a grade of A or B. Faculty endorsement of students receiving a grade of C in a clinical field experience is determined on a case-by-case basis, by each faculty involved with the clinical supervision of the student. This same criteria is used when endorsing students for employment.