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4 Questions 4 Howard Smith on His Travel to Haiti for Earthquake Relief
Question: You recently returned from working with the American Red Cross in Haiti. What can you tell us about that experience?
I had a pre-conceived notion about what things might be like in Haiti. I knew that it was one of the world's poorest nations, that unemployment was very high by our standards, and that there had been serious political unrest but things were reported to be somewhat better at this point. However, what I was not prepared to be exposed to was the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck in late January and its impact on the people. I have responded to disasters of various sorts (e.g., 9/11, Katrina/Rita, floods, tornadoes) so it was not the disaster that surprised me the most, it was the Haitian people and how they were dealing with it.
Given the severe limitations caused by the abject poverty, the Haitian people, for the most part, were coming together to do what they could to help themselves. Obviously, the loss of lives weighed heavily on them as a majority of Haitians in the Port-au-Prince region had either lost loved ones or friends; however, they were still working at helping each other and themselves through this devastating disaster. They would come to the First Aid Station and stand in the hot sun, sometimes for hours, because they needed a change of dressing on a wound or they may have hurt themselves in the post-disaster mess. However, if another person came along that they thought had a greater need, they would graciously direct that person to the front of the line. When distributions of household goods or tarps for shelter protection were distributed, they would wait their turn in an orderly and respectful manner.
Question: What was your specific assignment in Haiti?
The overall response to the earthquake was being coordinated by the International Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC) Society. The American Red Cross (ARC) is, of course, a very important part of that group. We (the ARC) have had a Red Cross Delegation in Haiti for some time that was there prior to, during, and following the earthquake and there had been 8 – 10 ARC staff in that delegation who had been working to support and enhance the Haitian Red Cross. ARC First Responders were deployed within a matter of hours following the earthquake. This consisted of 12 – 15 individuals who worked in the International Services Department of the ARC.
I was deployed, along with six other ARC volunteers and staff members, 10 days after the earthquake. In our group, there was a sheltering person assigned to work with representatives from other nations to develop a plan for temporary and more long-term housing, another Disaster Mental Health person, and several members of the International Services Department of the ARC who were involved in the financial and logistical aspects of a disaster relief operation. My assignment was to give disaster mental health support to both the ARC Delegation, one of whom was still missing and some of whom had lost their homes in the quake, and, to the First Responders, who had been on the ground getting the base camp up and running. I was also asked to assess the need for a Disaster Mental Health presence on an on-going basis for these individuals.
Question: How might other ACA members become involved in the disaster relief efforts?
The best way for ACA members to become involved at this point is to contribute generously to the ACA Foundation, which has a Counselors Care fund that can be used to assist counselors who have Haitian-American clients. Those clients may be in need of counseling as they grieve the loss of their family members. The fund is available to assist the counselors in providing pro-bono services for these clients or to find ways of establishing communication links with the family members living in Haiti who have survived the quake but are struggling in the aftermath of the disaster. Yet another way would be to contribute directly to the American Red Cross as they continue to offer assistance to the survivors through providing food and shelter.
Question: You wear an important hat as Chair of the ACA Foundation. Give us an update on the work of ACAF.
The Counselors Care fund was originally established in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to assist ACA members in re-establishing their practices and it has now been expanded to include counselors whose practice is impacted following major disasters. Another program is the Growing Happy and Confident Kids program that provides books for either school counselors or those whose practice serves a number of children. This program has been very popular for some time and has placed books in the offices of these counselors who help kids deal with real-life circumstances at a very critical point in their development. And, of course, ACAF has several programs that offer opportunities for graduate students to attend ACA Annual Conferences. Visit
Howard B. Smith, EdD, LPC, NCC, CCMHC, recently retired as interim dean and professor emeritus in the College of Education and Counseling at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. He has private practice experience and has served as Department Head of the Counseling and Human Resource Department at South Dakota State University and the Educational Leadership and Counseling Department at the University of Louisiana – Monroe. Before going back to South Dakota, he was the Associate Executive Director for Professional Affairs at ACA.
Dr. Smith has had a distinguished career in leadership positions having served as President of AMHCA, chair of numerous ACA committees and recipient of the prestigious Carl Perkins Award for outstanding service to the profession in the area of public policy. He has extensive experience in Disaster Mental Health and has volunteered for the American Red Cross in response to over 20 national disasters.
DSM-5: ACA Needs Your Input by March 22
In response to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) call for comment regarding the proposed diagnostic and content changes in the upcoming fifth edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V)," ACA is seeking member comment regarding the draft by March 22, 2010.
Direct any questions to: David Kaplan, ACA Chief Professional Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the News: American Influence on the Globalization of Mental Illness
Has America influenced the way the world looks at mental illness? Should American views be exported? If yes, is that good or bad for the rest of the world? These and other questions were examined in "The Americanization of Mental Illness" in the January 8, 2010 edition of the New York Times. The points and counterpoints presented by Ethan Watters are provocative, worthy of further examination, and make for some very interesting reading.
Conference Clipping #1: Want to Present at ACA in 2011?
The online Call for Proposals for the ACA 2011 Conference & Exposition, March 23-27, in New Orleans, will go live on Monday, March 29, 2010. The submission deadline is June 2, 2010 at 5 pm ET.
Topics are sought in all areas of counseling but ACA has specific interest in these topics for 2011: Disaster mental health, social media, military members and their families, and the Revised DSM (DSM-V). ACA also is actively seeking advanced programs in all topics.
The Call is for both Pre-conference Learning Institutes and regular conference Education Sessions.
Pre-Conference Learning Institutes
Note: Class sizes for 90- and 60-minute programs are based on room capacity. Complete details will be available on the website along with submission instructions.
Registration for the 2011 ACA Conference & Exposition itself opens March 23 with the Summer Rate of $300 ($200, Students/New Professionals/Retirees). This low registration rate will be available through August 31, 2010. Register online or call 800-347-6647, x222 (M-F, 8 am to 7 pm ET).
Conference Clipping #2: Free Consults in Pittsburgh
If you are attending the Pittsburgh Conference, you can still sign up for a free 30-minute individual Private Practice Consult with our consultants Bob Walsh and Norm Dasenbrook. They both have full private practices and write a monthly column in Counseling Today. Click
You will also find Career Consult appointments and Ethics Consults available to you. Go to the site above and schedule yourself!
Mental Health Parity: Tell Federal Regulators -- And ACA! -- Your Story
The new federal mental health parity law--formally, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)--became effective October 3rd of last year, and federal agencies recently issued joint regulations clarifying the law's requirements. MHPAEA stipulates that health plans covering 51 or more workers which include coverage for mental health and substance abuse services can't use financial requirements or treatment limits on such care that aren't used for medical and surgical coverage. The regulations --posted online --stipulate that beginning July 1st of this year, health plans covered by the regulations must use a "unified deductible" which applies to all types of care, including both mental health and addictive disorder services and medical/surgical care.
ACA will be filing comments on the regulations, and as part of our comments we will be urging the agencies involved to prohibit health plans from discriminating against mental health providers on the basis of their type of license. Such nondiscrimination language has been enacted in other federal programs and in several states, and should be instituted under the parity regulations as a way of preventing plans from sneaking in a back-door limit on use of behavioral health services.
ACA encourages counselors to submit their own comments, and to share comments and suggestions with our public policy staff for their consideration. What types of protections are needed to ensure that health plans cover mental health and addictive disorder services at parity? What types of barriers do you face with getting needed care covered by health plans? What aspects of the parity regulation do you agree with, or think need to be made stronger?
Comments on the parity regulations are due on or before May 3, 2010. To submit comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and enter "MHPAEA CMS" in the search box labeled "Enter keyword or ID", and then click on "submit a comment" for one of the agencies' postings entitled "Interim final rules under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act." Please note that all comments will be made available to the public, so do not include any personally identifiable information (such as name, address, or other contact information) or confidential business information that you do not want publicly disclosed. All comments will be posted on the internet exactly as received, and can be retrieved by most search engines. Comments may be submitted anonymously. Comments can also be mailed to: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS–4140–IFC, P.O. Box 8016, Baltimore, MD 21244–1850.
For more information, or to share your thoughts regarding parity, contact Scott Barstow with ACA's policy office at email@example.com.
American Workers See Stigma in Being Treated for Mental Health Conditions
Fear that knowledge of personal issues will affect job status and test confidentiality boundaries is keeping Americans from seeking treatment for mental health conditions, according to an online poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The survey also found that more than 40% of the 1,129 respondents believed their employer to be supportive or extremely supportive of their workers seeking care for health concerns.
The stigma, however, of being tied to those conditions still exists. Among employees, 76% believed their work status would be damaged by seeking treatment for drug addiction, 73% for alcoholism, and 62% for depression, compared with 55% who thought seeking care for diabetes would affect their work status and 54% for heart disease.
Two New ACA Books for Mental Health, Private Practice, and Community Agency Counselors
Developing Clinical Skills for Substance Abuse Counseling by Daniel Yalisove teaches the basic concepts and skills necessary for effective substance abuse counseling. In Part I, the author discusses counselor roles and the principles of substance abuse counseling. He then provides a synopsis of several key substance abuse theories as well as his own Building Session Goals and Strategies method and the Eight Stage Process of Counseling approach, all of which are practical, compatible means for learning and mastering clinical counseling skills.
Part II illustrates applications of these approaches in clinical situations using experiential exercises, role-plays, and clinical scenario examples. Chapters on group work, counseling clients with dual disorders, family counseling, and working with diverse client populations follow, with a helpful chapter on creating client treatment plans and writing clinical reports rounding out the book. Dr. Yalisove's practical approach to developing critical thinking and counseling skills makes this an ideal supplemental text for addictions courses.
2010 | 232 pgs
Counseling Multiple Heritage Individuals, Couples, and Families, written and edited by Richard C. Henriksen, Jr. and Derrick A. Paladino examines the strengths of and the challenges facing multiple heritage individuals, couples, and families and offers a framework for best practice counseling services and interventions specifically designed to meet their needs. Topics covered include historical and current racial classification systems and their effects; identity development; transracial adoptions; and counseling strategies for children, adolescents, college students, adults, couples and families, and GLBT individuals. Poignant case studies illustrate important concepts and techniques throughout the book, and chapter review questions provide a starting point for lively classroom discussion.
2009 | 235 pages
Fast Fact: Self-Reporting Healthy Americans on the Decline
A survey conducted by the National Center on Health Statistics and reported in the national media shows the percentage of Americans citing excellent or very good health fell in 2009. The statistical arm of the Centers for Disease Control found 66.6% saying they felt good, down from 69.1% in 1998. The percentage of adults indicating they were experiencing serious psychological distress held steady during the period at about 3%. NCHS offers a host of health statistical information at their FastStats website below.
Quotable Quotes of Notable People – M. Scott Peck
"Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit."
M. Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author of the best-selling "The Road Less Traveled."
New Private Practice Pointers on Managed Care, Insurance, Employee Assistance Companies
Bob Walsh and Norm Dasenbrook, authors of Private Practice Pointers at
The list also has contact information, number of insured lives that they cover, paperwork and payment data, and includes information on recent mergers. It is believed that the list will help members interested in joining managed care and insurance panels. The list allows private practice and agency members to make an informed decision about which of the companies to join.
Inside JCD: Spring Edition Articles of Interest
The spring 2010 edition of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) contains a number of articles that may be of particular interest to you. Watch your mailbox in March for this issue.
A Typology of Burnout in Professional Counselors
Content Analysis of the Journal of Counseling & Development:
Exploration in the Meanings of Excellence and Its Importance for Counselors: The Culture of Excellence in America
Using Gender Role Conflict Theory in Counseling Male-to-Female Transgender Individuals
Assessment and Treatment of Insomnia in Adults: A Guide for Clinicians
AMHCA Conference Set for Beantown, July 15-17, 2010
Move over Red Sox! The annual conference of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) will be held July 15-17, 2010 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston. The theme of the 2010 conference is Creative Therapy, Creating Change and Barbara Fredrickson, Bob Bertolino and Joan Hoffman will be featured speakers.
About ACAeNews for Mental Health, Private Practice, and Community Agency Counselors
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, NCC, NCCC, ACAeNews Editor
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ACA Website: www.counseling.org
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