I recently resumed the role as the Connecticut Counseling Association's Executive Director after a brief break from service. I made the decision to resign nearly a year ago and finished my term in December, 2011. In many ways, I sensed a need for a break from the responsibility and time for internal reflection and recommitment to my spiritual practices. I have found that when I am able to feelclear on the inside of the issues that are getting in my way of feeling grounded and centered, clarity often follows. The gift of the professional clarity that came during this break has reenergized me andreignited my passion to serve the counseling profession.
I share this as the Connecticut Counseling Association celebrates its 85th anniversary as a Counseling Association; we hold the distinction as the oldest counseling association in the United States. In honor of this, CCA is running a Membership drive from Memorial Day until Labor Day with a focus on empowering and encouraging CCA members to recruit colleagues, peers and students into membership.
As counselors, we have a natural curiosity about stories which bring meaning and enrichment into ourexperiences. CCA is reaching out to members to share their stories of how they value CCA and I would like to share my journey as a counselor and how being a member and eventually a leader in CCA has enriched my personal and professional life. I came to the counseling field as a secondcareer, returning to graduate school in my late 30's. I remember feeling very uncomfortable among a group of twenty-something's during my first day of class, keenly aware of the many challenges that a return to the classroom after 15 years presented. I made a dear friend in that class - one of the many gifts that counseling has given me.
One of the things that I love about being a counselor is fostering connections with clients and encouraging them to nurture their connections in the world. It is my need for connection with others, particularly like minded counselors that first brought me to the Connecticut Counseling Association and student membership. It felt good to a part of a larger group with similar professional Interests, goals and needs.
When I reflect on the aspects of CCA membership that I value - connection is the most important one. My membership is a gateway to meeting other counselors, sharing experiences, receiving support and working toward common goals. Meeting colleagues at conferences and meetings where ideas are brainstormed and solutions generated fostered a feeling that I wasn't alone. Being a counselor can be isolating - I was often the lone counselor in the two jobs I have held. CCA has continually filled the gap providing a place where I belonged - sort of like Cheers without the booze – it’s a place where everyone knows my name.
Another benefit of membership is the knowledge that CCA has my professional "back". This has impacted me in two key ways. First, when applying for my current job which would involve third party reimbursement for the first time in my career, I reached out to CCA for guidance. I was provided a brochure detailing what Licensed Professional Counselor credentials are, the benefits of hiring LPC's and much more; colleagues on the Listserv gave me advice and pointers which boosted my confidence and provided needed support.
Second, CCA lobbied to modify the language of the State of Connecticut's licensure law to include he words diagnose and diagnosis, insuring my ability to continue to receive insurance reimbursement andas a result, my job.
I could go on and on about the many ways CCA connects me to local and national counselors. I must admit I am a bit biased as the CCA Executive Director, a role I wouldn't have ever thought I would hold back on that first day of Theories of Counseling! I also am grateful for the wonderful mentors I have had through my evolution from student member to professional member to Executive Director. Now that you know my story, tell me yours!
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully is a counselor and writer who focuses on healing the mind, body and spirit. She specializes in PTSD, Chronic pain and mood disorders. For more information: www.anschealthandwellness.com