The History of IC&RC
The largest credentialing organization in the world began with an vision - of a unified field of alcohol and drug counselors. For several years, it seemed as if this concept could not succeed, until a small group found a way to bridge the differences between states.
It Started With An Idea
In April 1977, the Midwest Area Alcohol Education and Training Program sponsored a meeting of 10 states in the Midwest to discuss certification, standards, and the possibility of reciprocity. The differences between each state’s standards were vast, and no solutions were immediately apparent.
The effort continued at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Alcoholism Counselors (NAAC) in Tennessee in August 1978. New York, Illinois, Ohio, and several other states discussed the definition and value of reciprocity. There was enough interest to organize a two-day meeting, hosted by Texas. While the conversation was extensive, the representatives couldn’t come to an agreement.
Finding Common Ground
Finally, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin took a different approach and succeeded. At a meeting scheduled to coincide with the regional meeting of the NAAC, the states looked at the similarities in their standards, instead of the differences. From that foundation – and with the help of an outside facilitator, they were able to start the negotiation process. Trust grew as each state better understood the others’ processes, and the group was able to define what it called the Critical Dimensions (now referred to as the International Standards). The three states signed the first reciprocity agreement and, in the process, agreed to develop a uniform evaluation process to assess the competency of counselors. By July 1981, they would start to implement the new process.
Shortly after this agreement was signed, both Michigan and Indiana began to certify drug counselors (Wisconsin had already been certifying drug counselors since 1977). The representatives then met and worked out a reciprocity agreement, which was signed in January 1980.
Building from the Ground Up
In 1981, the Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc. adopted bylaws and articles of incorporation in South Bend, Indiana. The first official office of the consortium was located in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Also, in January of 1980, the CRC Committee on Evaluation began to develop a method of evaluation, which would better measure competency and could be disseminated broadly. The committee began by defining what knowledge and skill the counselor had to have. The next step was to list the functions and duties a counselor might have to perform. The list of functions was compiled using material from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, the CRC states and others. The total functions gathered were 2,150. The committee worked through these until they had identified a smaller number as core functions (primary functions needed to be competent). The 12 core functions were then defined to assure that all states would be using the same definitions of each. The knowledge and skill required for each of the core functions was also identified.
Then came the big questions. The committee had done all the work on the functions for a certified counselor to be competent, but was unsure how to measure the standards. The committee again began to brainstorm other methods. The result of this work, over a one and one-half year period of time, was the addition of a written case presentation and oral interview to the existing certification requirements.
Growing in Reach
While this work was being done, applications for reciprocity and negotiations were conducted and concluded with Texas (alcoholism counselors), Maryland (alcoholism counselors) and Louisiana (alcoholism, drug and substance abuse counselors).
The CRC began to reach out to other states and interest in the process began to intensify. By 1987, the number of boards included in the CRC had increased to 28. By joining the CRC, each board committed to recognizing the minimum standards established by the CRC. These included minimum requirements in the areas of education, experience, training, recertification and the use of standardized written and oral examinations.
In 1989, the organization changed its name to the National Certification Reciprocity Consortium (NCRC) to reflect its growth in membership and scope of the certification process. In 1992, the final name change to the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) occurred to reflect the scope of the organization as it reached out to boards around the world. Canada became the first international member board of the organization.
As the alcohol and drug field has changed and evolved over the years, standards have been developed by the IC&RC for the following credentials:
- Alcohol and Drug Counselor – 1981
- Clinical Supervisor – 1992
- Prevention Specialist – 1994
- Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor – 1999
- Criminal Justice Addictions Professional – 2002
- Co-Occurring Disorders Professional/Diplomate - 2007
- Peer Recovery - 2012
Currently, the IC&RC has 76 member boards representing more than 46,000 certified professionals worldwide. As many as half of all substance abuse professionals in the U.S. hold IC&RC certificates.