to main content Process for Behavioral Health Accreditation | The Joint Commission

Process Steps

Curious what your path to behavioral health care accreditation looks like? Here are some steps to guide you through the accreditation process with confidence.
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Learn More about Working with Us

To get started, familiarize yourself with the accreditation process and what it means for your organization.

  • Register for a free informational webinar or listen to a previous one.
  • Find helpful materials, checklists and videos.
  • Sign up for E-Alerts to receive important email updates from The Joint Commission.
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Review the Requirements

Request free 90-day access to E-dition®, our online standards manual:

  • Review the helpful self-assessment prompts in each chapter.
  • Review the written document checklist.
  • Identify your focus areas for preparation.
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Assess Your Readiness

When reviewing the standards, make a list to determine:

  • Requirements which apply to your programs and services.
  • Requirements you already meet currently.
  • If and where your policies/procedures might need to be changed.

If you need any help interpreting the standards or what to do to meet them, visit our standards interpretation section to view frequently asked questions or submit your own question.

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Submit an Application with Deposit

To start the application process, contact our Business Development team:

  • Our team will set up a secure account page for your organization on The Joint Commission’s internal (extranet) site.
  • Access the internal site with your login name and password to complete your application.

Talk with your team to determine a realistic “ready month” for your survey within the next 12 months. Identify that month on the application while noting blackout dates you wish the surveyor(s) to avoid.

Tip! Most organizations submit their completed application with a ready month at least 5-6 months prior to the date they'd like to hang an accreditation award certificate on their wall. As an applicant, you'll have a variety of free resources to help you prepare.
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Review and Address Any Identified Gap Areas

Establish a timeline and implement any changes needed to comply with the standards by the time of your on-site accreditation survey.
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Prepare for Your On-Site Survey

Access your organization’s extranet site and view the Survey Activity Guide, which provides all the details of our surveyor(s) on-site agenda. You can also access multiple free resources available to you, including:

  • Informational webinars, subject portals and electronic preparation tools.
  • Visit Joint Commission Resources for books, digital subscriptions, webinars, seminars and more to help you prepare.
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Participate in Your Joint Commission Survey

On the day of your survey, you’ll meet your Joint Commission Surveyor(s) and undergo the comprehensive on-site review. A preliminary accreditation report will be made available to you at the end of the survey.
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Complete Any Post-Survey Follow Up

If further changes are requested:

  • Resolve the issues within the requested time period, usually within 60 days.
  • Report back to your Account Executive for assistance with the submission(s) to resolve the findings.
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Celebrate and Publicize Your Accomplishments

When you’ve attained The Gold Seal of Approval® — let the world know! Explore our publicity kit for Gold Seal artwork to use and tips on promoting your new status.
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Maintain Survey Readiness

  • Take advantage of many resources to maintain your compliance with Joint Commission requirements.
  • Use the Focused Standards Assessment process to continuously improve your organization’s performance in the years between surveys.
  • Keep us up-to-date to any major changes in your organization or to your programs or services on your extranet site.
  • Check the extranet site periodically for billing and new information or changes.

Understand Your Survey

The Joint Commission’s accreditation survey helps organizations improve the safety and quality of care and services. The process begins with an on-site survey that assesses compliance with Joint Commission standards.

Joint Commission surveyors are specially trained professionals with experience in the behavioral health care industry who understand the day-to-day issues that confront providers and have the hands-on expertise to help organizations resolve them.

On-site surveys involve:

  • Tracing the patient’s experience, which involves observing services provided by various caregivers and programs within the organization, as well as hand-offs between them.
  • On-site observations and interviews.
  • Assessment of the physical facility.
  • Review of documents provided by the organization.

For more information on what to expect for your on-site survey, review the resources below.

Your accreditation experience is supported by experts who will help you before, during and after your survey. Listen to a quick video by Joint Commission staff to learn the key takeaways in going through your first Joint Commission behavioral health care survey.

Listen to First Timer's Roadmap for Behavioral Health Accreditation Watch the video on First Timer's Roadmap for Behavioral Health Accreditation

Ready to Move On?

Understand the Process

You're familiar with the accreditation and survey process.

Next Step

Get accreditation pricing information for your organization.