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

Our Mission: To enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity.

ACA is on:
Facebook (American Counseling Association)
Twitter (@CounselingViews)
LinkedIn (American Counseling Association)

Counseling Today, the award-winning monthly magazine of ACA, is on:
Facebook (Counseling Today)
Twitter  (@ACA_CTOnline) 

10 Things to Know About Counselors and Counseling

1. Professional counseling is a therapeutic relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

2. Common specialties within professional counseling include mental health counseling, school counseling, career counseling, addictions counseling, and couples and family counseling.

3. Many counselors are specifically trained to support individuals or groups in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters. 

4. Professional counselors abide by ACA’s Code of Ethics.

5. Professional counselors can diagnose and/or treat mental health disorders.

6. Counselors do not prescribe medications.

7. School counselors must be certified/licensed by a state education department to work in a public school.

8. Counselors working in mental health settings (mental health centers, college counseling centers, hospitals, substance abuse centers, etc.) must be licensed in their state as a professional counselor.

9. Rehabilitation counselors typically must be Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, especially if they work in the traditional setting of a state Office for Vocational Rehabilitation.

10. The differences among counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists can be summarized by differences in education and focus: Professional counselors have a graduate degree in counseling. A master's degree is the entry-level requirement. Counselors focus on client wellness, as opposed to psychopathology. Psychologists have a graduate degree in psychology, and licensed psychologists typically have a degree in clinical, counseling, or school psychology. Of all the mental health professions, psychologists are the best trained in conducting research. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have usually completed a residency in psychiatry. Their niche is prescribing psychotropic drugs.


Facts and Figures about Mental Health and Professional Counseling 

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services publishes statistics on mental health in America here

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes employment statistics on mental health counselors here.  School and career counselors here.

ACA publishes state-by-state counts of mental health professionals here.


Latest News From ACA



Take Action: Insurance, Mental Health Coverage in Peril

by Kathie Felix | Nov 22, 2017
A bill proposing revisions to the nation’s tax structure is now in the Senate. That measure contains a provision that would negatively affect the clients professional counselors serve, in terms of their access to early intervention, preventative care, and affordable insurance and mental health care costs. Ultimately, that provision would affect the ability of clients and prospective clients to see professional counselors and to obtain mental health care.
The House of Representatives has already voted on a tax plan of its own, but that measure did not include any change to the current health care law.

What does this mean? 

The Senate tax reform bill contains a repeal of the “individual mandate” of the Affordable Care Act.  The individual mandate, which requires that almost all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine, brings more people into the insurance marketplace, resulting in better costs and coverage for early intervention,  preventative, and ongoing health care, including care for mental health.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated this repeal would result in 4 million people losing health insurance coverage in 2018—and 13 million losing coverage by 2027—as well as premium increases of 10% per year in the individual marketplaces.

To learn what the American Counseling Association is doing for professional counselors and their clients on this measure—and what you can do, read more here.
Click here to read past Latest News stories from ACA.





ACA Government Affairs Blog





Infographics for Use by the Media


"12 Things You Should Know About Professional Counselors"
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"School Counselor Infographic"
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Endorsed Scope of Practice for Professional Counseling

The independent practice of counseling encompasses the provision of professional counseling services to individuals, groups, families, couples and organizations through the application of accepted and established mental health counseling principles, methods, procedures and ethics.

Counseling promotes mental health wellness, which includes the achievement of social, career, and emotional development across the lifespan, as well as preventing and treating mental disorders and providing crisis intervention.

Counseling includes, but is not limited to, psychotherapy, diagnosis, evaluation; administration of assessments, tests and appraisals; referral; and the establishment of counseling plans for the treatment of individuals, couples, groups and families with emotional, mental, addiction and physical disorders.
 
Counseling encompasses consultation and program evaluation, program administration within and to schools and organizations, and training and supervision of interns, trainees, and pre-licensed professional counselors through accepted and established principles, methods, procedures, and ethics of counselor supervision.
 
The practice of counseling does not include functions or practices that are not within the professional’s training or education.