Note to Readers: After a week of record breaking snow and countless interruptions to daily routines ACA has "weathered" the Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of 2010 and is back in operation. We have extended the deadline for registering for the ACA Conference in Pittsburgh at the Advance Rate thru Friday, February 19. Call 800-347-6647, x222 or visit http://www.counseling.org/Conference.
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New TRICARE Report: Physician Referral for Counseling Should Not be Required
The long-awaited Institute of Medicine (IOM) TRICARE study was released on Friday, February 12th. ACA is pleased that the study unequivocally recommends independent practice authority for professional counselors.
The study was commissioned by Congress, to provide guidance on whether or not to remove the physician referral and supervision requirement for counselors' services within TRICARE, the health care program serving members of the armed forces and their dependents.
ACA commends IOM for endorsing TRICARE counselor independent practice, but we also note that the report contains some challenges. The report recommends that only those counselors graduating from a CACREP-accredited, 60-credit program and having passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) be recognized for independent practice. ACA recognizes the hardship this would cause for many qualified counselors, and will be working with Congress to address these barriers in the course of removing the physician referral and supervision requirement from current statute.
For more information, contact Scott Barstow with ACA's public policy office at 800-347-6647 x234, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Obama Administration Issues Rules Requiring Parity in Treatment of Mental Health, Substance Use Disorders
In late January, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury jointly issued new rules providing parity for consumers enrolled in group health plans who need treatment for mental health or substance use disorders. The new rules prohibit group health insurance plans -- typically offered by employers -- from restricting access to care by limiting benefits and requiring higher patient costs than those that apply to general medical or surgical benefits. The rules implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).
Student-to-Counselor Ratio Improves but Remains High in U.S. Schools
The ratio of students to school counselors in the nation's public elementary and secondary schools decreased slightly in the 2007-2008 school year, according to data recently released from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The data show the current national student-to-counselor ratio is 467:1, down from 475:1 last year. The ratio is based on the total number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools and the total number of "guidance counselors" employed in public schools during fall of the 2007-2008 school year. Using the most recent statistics, ACA has updated the student-to-counselor ratio chart.
ACA recommends a maximum average student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1 to ensure that students have adequate access to counseling services. Research over time has shown that the provision of school counseling services can improve student well-being and facilitate academic achievement.
Conference Clipping #1: ACA Interest Networks to Meet in Pittsburgh
A time has been set aside at the ACA Conference & Exposition next month in Pittsburgh for ACA Interest Networks to meet. If you wish to learn more about or become involved with one of the 13 networks listed below, mark your calendar for Saturday, March 20 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm and attend that meeting in the Pennsylvania Ballroom of the Westin Hotel.
Conference Clipping #2: Registration Packets to Mail Friday
For those who have already registered for the ACA 2010 Annual Conference, March 18-22 in Pittsburgh, watch your mailbox for your registration packet. Packets will start to mail Friday, February 19.
Not yet registered? There is still time to sign up at the Advance Rate! The deadline was extended to Friday February 19. Register online at
Fast Fact: Army Suicides Highest Ever in 2009
The 160 confirmed and suspected U. S. Army suicides in 2009 represent the highest number since the service began keeping statistics in 1980. Suicides have nearly doubled since 2005 and grew by 45 in 2007. The Army suicide rate (23 per 100,000 soldiers) now outpaces that of the civilian population (20 per 100,000 people).
Accompanying the suicide data release were stronger calls by ranking officials and officers at the Pentagon to provide needed support and services to men and women in uniform. The Department of Defense Suicide Prevention and Risk Reduction Committee (SPARRC) has created the Preventing Suicide Network, a resource center aimed at providing authoritative and problem-specific information about suicide prevention.
In the News: Dollar Value of College Degree under Scrutiny
Many career and college guides over the years have jumped at the chance to advance "the more you learn---the more you earn" notion. Recent analysis suggests that earning the vaunted sheepskin may not be as monetarily valuable as numerous studies have shown and the methodology used to calculate the difference may be the culprit. The Wall Street Journal reports that the $800,000 lifetime earnings gap between those earning a high school diploma and a baccalaureate degree may not be that wide. The article references the American Institutes for Research which calls the gap "a million-dollar misunderstanding," and others suggest that the difference may be half that amount.
ACA Adds Two New Podcasts: Death and Dying and Haiti Relief
Two new podcasts have been added to the popular series of free programs members can access. They include:
HT107 - Re-membering Lives, Conversations with the Dying and Bereaved
This podcast examines death and dying issues and the impact of death on the terminally ill and their families. It features Lorraine Hedtke and John Winslade.
HT106 - Stress and Haitian Americans, After the Earthquake
Haitian-Americans, especially those with family in Haiti are turning to counselors to deal with the stress and difficulty they are experiencing. In this podcast, Cirecie A. West-Olatunji and doctoral student Shirley St. Just (translating into Creole) offer thoughts on how Haitian- Americans might deal with the disaster.
To learn more about these two programs and to access them for personal, professional use, go to:
Reliable Resources: Homework Helper Website
Without getting into the controversial debate on the merits of homework for K-12 students, ACAeNews has discovered a website that connects homework-challenged students with a mix of tools and resources that may make the experience less intimidating. Operated by the New York City Public Libraries, this website includes live features such as Dial-A-Teacher and Ask-A-Librarian, as well as links to study notes, calculators, and other homework tools. Some services require registration and a library card ID. Check your local library as many are constructing similar systems.
ACA Developing Strategy to Comment on DSM-V
Citing the "user community" as an important source of information regarding the identification of problems and limitations with DSM-IV-TR, the American Psychiatric Association is inviting comment on the current edition and suggestions for DSM-V. Suggestions will be shared with DSM-V Work Groups as they create the next edition.
ACA welcomes this opportunity and would like to receive member comments and suggestions to formulate an ACA response to the DSV-V Work Groups by the April 20, 2010 deadline. Members are also invited to go to
Grants Recognize Individual Achievements and Community Needs
ACAeNews readers may wish to consider the following recognition and grant programs:
Kohl's Kids Who Care
The Kohl's Kids Who Care Scholarship Program recognizes and rewards "stand up," youth volunteers (age 6-18) whose efforts have made a positive impact on their communities. Recipients earn Kohl Gift Cards in amounts up to $1,000 or $10,000 scholarships. Nomination deadline: March 15, 2010.
WHO (Women Helping Others) Foundation
The WHO Foundation supports grassroots nonprofit organizations serving the overlooked needs of women and children. The Foundation's Education/Literacy Grant Program provides support for free after-school programs and other education and literacy efforts for low-income children of all ages. Application deadline: March 9, 2010
The Purpose Prize
The Purpose Prize, administered by Civic Ventures, provides awards to people over 60 who are taking on society's biggest challenges. Five awards of $100,000 and five awards of $50,000 will be given to exceptional individuals who are channeling their creativity and talent to address critical social problems at the local, regional, national, or international level. Nomination deadline: March 5, 2010.
Conference Clipping #3: Do You Have a Job Opening? Searching for a Job? Check This Out.
Free consults are available to ACA members and registered participants of the Pittsburgh Conference on a variety of professional and personal issues. Go to: http://www.counseling.org/sub/career/consultations.aspx and schedule yourself for:
All consults will take place in the Exhibition Hall at the Career Center Saturday and Sunday 10:30am - 6pm.
Relevant Research: Teen Lack of Sleep Connected to Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
The first study to show that sleep deprivation may cause depression and suicidal thoughts in adolescents been reported by researchers at Columbia University Medical School. Dr. James Gangwisch and his associates discovered that students getting the least amount of sleep experienced depression and a significant portion of these teens had seriously contemplated suicide.
How much sleep is required? Experts at the Mayo Clinic state the answer varies by age. Infants usually need a minimum of 16 hours of sleep per day, preschoolers 11 hours, and school-age children 10 hours. Teenagers and adults need nine hours and seven to eight hours, respectively.
Calendar: Spring State Conferences Dot the Map
March 11-12, 2010
April 9-11, 2010
April 12-13, 2010
April 15-17, 2010
April 16-17, 2010
April 22-24, 2010
ACA divisions, branches, and regions are valuable sources of learning and professional development. Information on events will be posted approximately 8-10 weeks prior. This information is made available to ACAeNews via the ACA master calendar and the various organization web sites. Send calendar items to email@example.com. Please provide the sponsor, dates, site and contact person information. Information posted here is restricted to that sponsored by ACA divisions, branches, regions and related organizations.
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