About ACA

About ACA

The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings.

What Is Counseling?

According to 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling, the delegates comprised of 31 counseling organizations agreed upon a unified definition of counseling: Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

Divisions, Branches, and Regions

There are 20 chartered divisions within the American Counseling Association. These divisions provide leadership, resources and information unique to specialized areas and/or principles of counseling.  ACA has four regions, which serves members in those regions.  Lastly, ACA has 56 chartered branches in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.  Please click the following links to get more information about ACA's Divisions, Branches, and Regions.


Learn more about what ACA does for its members here.
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Latest News

Final TRICARE Rules More Beneficial to Licensed Professional Counselors

by Amber McLaughlin | Jul 18, 2014
Many Licensed Professional Counselors will benefit under the Final Rule published by the Department of Defense (DoD) on July 17, 2014. The Final Rules apply to the TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselors (TCMHC) category. Several provisions included were those advocated for by the American Counseling Association over the last several years.
The Final Rule will finally allow LPCs meeting specific criteria to operate as independent practitioners under TRICARE. This has been a key component in ACA’s efforts to demonstrate parity among those providing mental health services. In addition, TRICARE is extending the transition period for meeting education, examination, and supervised clinical practice criteria to January 1, 2017. Without this extension, the window for eligibility would have ended in just over five months on December 31. With the extension, our members will have had five full years to meet the criteria which include:
  1. Possession of a master’s degree or higher from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs (CACREP) and passage of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE); OR,
  2. Possession of a master’s degree or higher in counseling from a regionally accredited institution and passage of the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

“DoD made the right choice in allowing LPCs to become independent practitioners in TRICARE, and with the extension of the time in which to meet the criteria,” said Robert L. Smith, ACA President.

Another provision of the Final Rule will allow those in the Supervised Mental Health Counselor (SMHC) category to continue beyond the current December 31, 2014 deadline. The SMHC works via physician supervision and referral. Those counselors in this category were going to lose that status and no longer be able to practice within TRICARE. These practitioners will now have an indefinite extension.

“We were very pleased that DoD made the wise decision to continue the SMHC category of provider. This move is congruent with many state licensure laws and helps to ensure that more LPCs will be able to practice under TRICARE,” said Richard Yep, ACA Chief Executive Officer.

Many of the changes in the Final Rule encompassed the recommendations which were advocated by ACA. “Our goal was to work diligently to ensure that the final rule was less exclusionary, and therefore would allow our members to provide help to service members and their families,” said Art Terrazas, ACA Director of Government Affairs.

More details on the Final Rule will be coming soon but rest assured that ACA will continue to work for all LPCs to ensure they find a place within TRICARE. Please stay tuned to ACA communications channels for more updates. Read the final rule here.