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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



  • White House Supports Additional Type of Group Health-Care Insurance Plan

    Jan 17, 2018
    Late last month, the White House proposed new rules that would make it easier for small businesses, sole proprietors, and individuals to group together in “association” to buy insurance in the large group market. These association plans, as they are known, would be exempt from many of the consumer protections—including required mental health coverage—that are mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which now provides coverage for some of the same types of customers.
    Read More
  • ACA Weighs In on Wording Restrictions at the Centers for Disease Control

    Dec 20, 2017
    According to recent press reports, officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been told to not use the terms “diversity,” “transgender,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based,” among others, in the upcoming budget request for 2019. This prompted American Counseling Association Chief Executive Officer Richard Yep to write the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the directive.
    Read More
  • Tax Bill Compromise Under Way

    Dec 15, 2017
    The House and Senate have approved different versions of tax reform and now the conference committee is preparing to release the final compromise version, which both houses must then pass before the measure goes to the President for signature. There has been a strong effort to move these bills through the legislative process in order to put a bill on the President's desk by December 25.
    Read More
  • Take Action: Insurance, Mental Health Coverage in Peril

    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.
    Read More
  • American Counseling Association Foundation Offers Grants of Up to $500

    Oct 19, 2017
    The American Counseling Association Foundation is seeking proposals from American Counseling Association members for grants of up to $500 in three areas: Disaster-Relief Efforts, Growing Healthy and Confident Kids, and General Needs.
    Read More
Click here to read past Latest News stories from ACA.





ACA Government Affairs Blog



Four Important Ways the Tax Bills Affect Healthcare and Education

by Scott MacConomy | Dec 06, 2017

The tax bills passed by the House and Senate last month are now heading for a conference committee where the differences will be worked out and a final version will then be sent back to both houses for a final vote.  There are several important ways the tax bills will affect healthcare and education.

1. The Senate bill repeals the requirement for most people to get health insurance or pay a  penalty. Republicans tried to end the individual mandate earlier this year when they attempted to pass the Obamacare repeal legislation. The bill would not technically remove the requirement for people to have insurance, but it would eliminate the fine that people would face if they choose to remain uninsured.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that dropping the requirement would result in 13 million fewer people having insurance over 10 years.  It also estimates that premiums would rise 10 percent more per year than they would without this change. This is because healthier people would be most likely to drop insurance in the absence of a fine, so insurers would have to raise premiums to compensate for a sicker group of customers. Those consumers, in turn, would be left with fewer affordable choices, according to the CBO. It also becomes more likely that insurers will drop out of the individual market entirely if there is no requirement for healthy people to sign up but they still have to sell to people who know they will need medical care.  Many people who are now covered by a plan that covers mental health would be less likely or able to get treatment because of this change. 

2. The bills would trigger major cuts to the Medicare program

The House and Senate tax bills include no specific Medicare changes, but passing the legislation in its current form would trigger another law that requires cuts to federal programs if the federal budget deficit is increased.

Both the House and Senate would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, resulting in automatic cuts under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act.  Federal officials would be required to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion. Cuts to Medicare are limited under the PayGo law, so the Medicare reduction would be limited to 4 percent of program spending, which is roughly $25 billion of that total. Cuts of a similar size would be required in future years. Most of that would likely come from payments to providers. This hurts Medicare recipients with mental health problems and the counselors who treat them. 

3. Change tax treatment for graduate students and those paying back student loans

The House bill, though not the Senate's, would for the first time require graduate students to pay tax on the value of tuition that universities do not require them to pay. Currently, graduate students in many fields, including counseling, often are paid a small stipend for teaching while they pursue advanced degrees. Many are technically charged tuition, but it is "waived" as long as they are working for the university. The House tax bill would eliminate that waiver and require them to pay taxes on the full value of the tuition that they don't now have to pay, which would result in many students with fairly low incomes seeing very large tax bills.

At the same time, the House tax bill would eliminate the deduction for interest paid on student loans, another blow to counselor education.

4. Repeal the medical expense deduction

The House bill would eliminate taxpayers' ability to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income. The medical expense deduction is not widely used — just under 9 million filers took it on their 2015 tax returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But those who do use it generally have very high medical expenses, often for a disabled child, a serious chronic illness or expensive long-term care not covered by health insurance. AARP says that eliminating the deduction "amounts to a health tax on millions of Americans with high medical costs — especially middle income seniors."

You can find contact information for your Members of Congress by going here and entering your zip code on Find Officials.

 

 

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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.