From the perspective of a current trainee or a graduate of clinical pastoral training, whether the program is accredited – that is, its training outcomes and administration validated by a recognized accrediting agency, in accordance with the agency’s standards – is a significant issue. Participation in or graduation from an accredited program confers specific benefits on trainees and graduates [in the United States].
From the perspective of an individual training program, accreditation by a recognized accrediting agency provides specific authorizations and access to federal programs not available to programs that are not thus accredited.
The key element in both statements is the accrediting agency having been recognized by the US Department of Education.
- Recognition does not imply a judgment on the quality of the training experience but reflects on the organization’s proven capability to administer accreditation processes fairly and objectively and to be organized in an open, transparent manner.
- An agency’s non-recognition, in turn, raises concerns about the reliability of the agency’s judgments concerning the conduct and administration of training.
- Basic requirements for recognition provide some latitude in the agency’s relationship to the programs being reviewed for accreditation. Three types of accrediting agencies are required to be “separate and independent” of the institutions or programs that they accredit, while the fourth type – (1) constituted by voluntary membership, and (2) whose primary purpose is the accreditation of training programs – is allowed an organic relationship.
CPSP is eligible for recognition as an organization of this fourth type.
The Accreditation Manual (since 2019) has incorporated the Department’s requirements for recognition into CPSP practices.
- To justify recognition as an accrediting agency, an organization itself makes the final decision on all accreditation matters. The Accreditation Commission makes the final decision on accreditation matters on behalf of CPSP.
- Recognition requires both the thorough documentation of policies and procedures that ensure fair, unbiased, transparent decision making, and a documented record of consistent implementation of those procedures. The Accreditation Manual and the design of CPSP information systems fulfill these expectations.
- Both the Standards and Accreditation Manual incorporate the US Department of Education criteria in their design and usage, adapting their execution to CPSP’s chapter-based organization.
- The Accreditation Commission, representing CPSP, is charged with a timely response to a wide range of inputs/recommendations from the Accreditation Oversight Committee.
- In a minimal concession to bureaucracy, the Administrator documents, publishes, and reports Administration Commission decisions and completed actions to training programs, the membership and external customers, and the Secretary of Education.
Recognition as an accrediting agency is a survival task for CPSP.
The application process for recognition requires that CPSP demonstrate a substantial record of accreditation activity (in accordance with our published documents) in the years before entering the review process. Our diplomate supervisors’ engagement with accreditation is key to our success!