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The recent news that a licensure proposal has made progress through the California state legislature (see ACAeNews for June 16, 2009) heightens the possibility that a licensure law will soon be accessible to counselors in all 50 states. Richard Yep, first as staff director of government relations and now as executive director of ACA, has witnessed much of that credentialing activity and is uniquely positioned to respond to 4 Questions 4.
1. What have been the "lessons learned" by the profession as counselors have marched toward licensure over these past 33 years?
In my estimation, counselor licensure has been a signature achievement for the profession over the past half century and I am proud of the role our members have played in making it happen. Many counseling practitioners today take for granted what has taken more than three decades to accomplish. In 1974, ACA (then the American Personnel and Guidance Association) adopted a position paper, "Counselor Licensure: Position Statement," that was distributed widely in the profession. A year later the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a regulatory act that eventually led to professional licensure in 1976, the first state to do so. In the 33 years since then, ACA, its divisions, regions and branches, have been engaged in intense and tireless efforts to define a professional role and establish standards for counseling in every state... Counselor licensure laid the foundation for the present and future advocacy initiatives that are so vital to our professional status.
2. How would you characterized the role has ACA played in supporting the passage of counselor licensure laws in America?
One has to respect that ACA was active on multiple credentialing fronts in the 1970s and 1980s and each front has played a separate, but distinct role, in what we are today. ACA's role in the achievement of licensure varied from state to state. In the early days ACA helped to draft legislation, write testimony, and coach state branch leaders and licensure advocates in many of the techniques we had begun practicing with Congress in Washington dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.
Once the ball started rolling in the states, our role included that of communicator to convener to cheerleader depending on the needs of the state groups. ACA also provided grants and other types of funding to licensure efforts across the country.
3. Many believe that recognition of the profession by insurers is the new battleground in counselor advocacy. What is your perspective on this issue?
Recognition of counselors universally by the insurance community remains an important piece of "unfinished business" that has become a natural extension of licensure achievement. ACA is engaged in these recognition efforts as we seek to ensure that counselors are included in federal legislation. Our recent work with Medicare and Tricare exemplifies this type of effort. Licensure in many instances is only the first step in professional recognition and it places the profession at new thresholds that must be crossed. While the challenges will be formidable, I am confident that our members will be successful in extending this recognition.
4. What must counselors and counseling organizations do today to sustain the advocacy strategies that resulted in the establishment of these credentials?
Advocacy is woven into the fabric of professional counseling. It begins with our members being the best counselors they can be. They must then advocate for their clients. as individuals and as any class of clients that have particular needs which can be addressed by the programs and services that we provide. Finally, we must advocate just as diligently for our professional identities and how counselors contribute to the human growth and development needs and issues of individuals and families Counselors must be active on licensure boards that maintain standards and governtheir practice and do all they can to sustain this rich professional identity they have worked so hard to achieve.
Richard Yep, CAE, has served as the Executive Director of ACA since 1998. Earlier in his career, Yep worked in the area of government relations as a member of the ACA staff. He also was assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists and a member of the staff of Representative Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA). He has been engaged in advocacy initiatives at the federal and state level through all of his nonprofit association positions.
Earlier this year eNews readers were asked to participate in a "Your Thoughts" survey looking at the use of evidence-based approaches to the practice of counseling. The results from the 85 respondents follow:
Respondent comments generally expressed support for using evidence-based approaches, but cited concerns such as "research needing to catch up with practice" and insufficient numbers of studies as impediments to exclusive use. One respondent offered: "I feel I owe it to my clients to provide the best treatment. Staying on top of research is a big part of that commitment." Another stated: "It is irresponsible to use anything but an evidence-based approach."
Lack of funding for research and limited interest by practitioners in validating their efforts were cited as detrimental factors. Specific research concerns, such as some counseling theories and modalities not lending themselves to evidence-gathering techniques, were also mentioned.
The thoughts of those less enthralled with evidence-based approaches are offered in the words of a respondent who said: "Evidence-based outcomes are determined in sanitized conditions. While I think the information is useful, I don't think it's the end-all. In actual practice, my approach is eclectic and flexible."
The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) maintains a state-by-state report card on how well various states are addressing mental health issues such as health promotion and measurement, financing and core treatment/recovery services, consumer and family empowerment, and community integration and social inclusion.
NAMI awarded no A grades. The states of Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Oklahoma earned a B. The remainder of the states earned the following grades: C - 18, D - 21, and F - 6. The composite grade for the nation was a dismal D. Readers can check how their state fared in the NAMI report card by accessing the link below.
In research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and published in the June edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, an earlier finding that a single gene influences a person's risk of depression in response to a negative life event has failed to stand the test of scientific scrutiny. Citing the importance of ongoing checks and balances by the health and medical community, NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. said: "We are still in the early days of understanding how genes and environment interact to increase the risk for depression." A media release on the new analysis conducted by Kathleen R. Merikangas, chief of the NIMH genetic epidemiology research branch, can be found at the agency web site.
A Contemporary Approach to Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling: A Counselor's Guide to Application and Understanding by Ford Brooks and Bill McHenry
Straightforward and reader-friendly, A Contemporary Approach to Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling, provides a basic understanding of the nature of substance abuse and addiction, its progression, and clinical interventions for college/university, school, and community/mental health agency settings. Focusing on clinical applications and how-tos, this book will help counselors and counselors-in-training more fully engage in the helping process, find creative approaches for working with struggling clients, and embrace a holistic approach to assisting clients on their journey toward healing and recovery.
Topics covered include drug classifications; assessment; working with ethnically diverse clients, the GLBT population, and women; the continuum from nonuse to addiction; developmental approaches in treating addiction; relapse prevention; grief and loss in addiction; group counseling; working with families; spirituality; addictions training and ethical issues; understanding and applying the 2009 CACREP Standards for Addiction Counseling; and counselor self-care. Real-life case examples throughout the text and exploration questions at the end of each chapter will captivate students and facilitate discussion.
2009 | 280 pgs
ACA would like members to share their thoughts on how the current recession has influenced their work and how economic conditions have influenced clients and students. Modeled after a survey conducted with participants at the ACA Conference in Charlotte, NC in March, it will allow you express your informal, unscientific opinion regarding the subject.
An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older - about one in four adults - suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, making mental disorders a common U.S. health concern. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion - about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 - who suffer from a serious mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.
If your work ever requires that you quantify the numbers of Americans with mental disorders, NIMH maintains current statistics on the agency website. Disorders are presented according to Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) classifications.
"Mental health and addiction patients are discriminated against because employers and insurers often do not classify these disorders as diseases of the brain. Yet we know after decades of brain research that they indeed are diseases, and that effective treatments exist."
Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford
From an op-ed piece published in The Washington Times (July 18, 2007) in support of the passage of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act.
Student-athletes at the collegiate level experience a wide range of mental health issues, including mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders and disordered eating, and substance related concerns. A National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) paper for coaches offers information on the identification of mental health disorders and steps to be taken to ensure proper management and treatment. Citing the need for appropriate referral the paper states: "Your job is to assist the individual in getting to the right treatment professional."
The ACA Private Practice Pointers link at www.counseling.org has a new posting on electronic claims submissions that is "must reading" for counselors in private practice. Using available tools and technology, counselors in private practice can streamline their billing protocols and speed up payments and reimbursements. To access this "members only" online feature use the link below.
Maternal depression affects millions of families in communities nationwide. As a response to this urgent public health problem, Mental Health America (MHA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have released an action guide for communities, Maternal Depression-Making a Difference Through Community Action: A Planning Guide.
The purpose of this guide is to help communities mobilize and create a strategic plan for local action. It proposes a coordinated, comprehensive approach involving numerous stakeholders who share a common vision to strengthen the health and well-being of all mothers and families in the community.
The fall, 2009 edition of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) contains a number of articles that mental health, private practice and community agency counselors may wish to read and study. Watch your mailbox mid to late September
Examining Ethnicity and Fears of Children and Adolescents in the United States: Differences Between White, African American and Hispanic Populations by Joy J. Burnham & Richard. G. Lomax
Measuring Lifestyle and Attachment: An Empirical Investigation of Linking Individual Psychology and Attachment Theory by Paul R. Peluso, Jennifer P. Peluso, Janine P. Buckner, Roy M. Kern, & William Curlette
Applying Critical Consciousness: Culturally Competent Disaster Response Outcomes by Rachael D. Goodman & Cirecie A. West-Olatunji
Work-Family Conflict and Career Development Theories: A Search for Helping Strategies by Rebecca Slan-Jerusalim & Charles P. Chen
Responding to the Crisis in Children's Mental Health: Potential Roles for the Counseling Profession by Elizabeth A. Mellin
Engaging Clients, Families, and Communities as Partners in Mental Health by Julia Bryan
ACAeNews for Mental Health, Private Practice, and Community Agency Counselors is one of four electronic newsletters that are published three times per year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
The other three special focus enewsletters are:
Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a website in this publication does not imply endorsement by ACA. Any views and opinions are those of the sponsoring organization and may or may not be shared by ACA.
Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.
Lynn E. Linde, President
Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director
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Frank Burtnett, ACAeNews Editor
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