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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

  • In Support of Counselors and Students Seeking a Reduction in Gun Violence

    Mar 14, 2018
    The American Counseling Association recently adopted a resolution calling for more school counselors to support children affected by gun trauma.
    Read More
  • Get Ready. April is Counseling Awareness Month!

    Mar 13, 2018
    Each year, the American Counseling Association designates April as Counseling Awareness Month. The celebration, first held in 2002, was created to recognize the important work done by professional counselors and to draw attention to the many ways that counseling can help everyone.
    Read More
  • ACA Calls for More School Counselors to Support Children Affected by Gun Trauma

    Mar 01, 2018
    On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Executive Committee of the American Counseling Association adopted a resolution supporting and highlighting the role that school counselors play in addressing the anxiety, stress, and trauma students experience after a school shooting. The resolution underscores the vital role that school counselors play in helping students cope with adverse conditions.
    Read More
  • ACA Names National Award Winners

    Feb 28, 2018
    The American Counseling Association and the American Counseling Association Foundation are pleased to announce the 76 winners of their annual awards competitions for professional counselors and counseling students.
    Read More
  • ACA Announces 68th President

    Feb 15, 2018
    Heather Trepal, Licensed Professional Counselor and Board-Approved Supervisor (LPC-S, Texas), will begin her term as ACA President-Elect on July 1, 2018, and will begin serving as American Counseling Association President on July 1, 2019.
    Read More
Click here to read past Latest News stories from ACA.

ACA Government Affairs Blog

Spending Deal Clears Way for Action on 2018 Health-Care Programs

by Scott MacConomy | Feb 14, 2018

Congress began the month needing to give itself yet another time extension to agree on the spending levels for the federal agencies, departments, and programs for the current fiscal year that began almost six months ago. Without this extension, there would be another government shutdown.

This could have been done in a one-page bill. Instead, Congress got ambitious and accomplished quite a lot for a single week. 

Congress raised the spending caps for the 2018 and 2019 budgets, meaning it increased the size of the pie. Some Members of Congress have been advocating for an increase in defense spending, others for an increase in spending on domestic programs. The answer turned out to be: “Do Both.” As a result, an additional $165 billion will be spent on defense programs in the next two years and an additional $131 billion will be spent over current spending levels on domestic programs.

While there were some specifics in the deal, most of the allocations will be worked out in the coming weeks. The agreement required lawmakers to spend $3 billion to combat the opioid crisis, $2 billion on veterans, $10 billion on infrastructure, $2 billion on higher education, and $2.9 billion on child care. The bill also includes a one-time emergency allocation of $90 billion for disaster relief from hurricanes and wildfires.

In health-care spending , the bill includes additional years of funding for several important health programs: two years of renewed funding for community health centers, $6 billion in funding for the treatment of mental health issues and opioid addiction, $2 billion in extra funding for the National Institutes of Health, and an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which builds on the six years approved by Congress last month

The deal would accelerate the closing of the “doughnut hole” in Medicare drug coverage that requires seniors to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before catastrophic coverage kicks in.

The community health centers section includes more than $7 billion in funding for the nation’s federally funded community health centers. The clinics that serve 27 million low-income people saw their funding lapse last fall—a delay advocates said had already complicated budgeting and staffing decisions for many clinics.

In addition, the budget deal funds programs that encourage doctors to practice in medically underserved areas, providing just under $500 million over the next two years for the National Health Service Corps and another $363 million over two years to the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, which places medical residents in Community Health Centers.

Congress also included in the deal an increase in the debt limit, avoiding a contentious fight next month over whether to vote to allow the Treasury to borrow more money. For decades, Congress has routinely borrowed money to pay for the programs it approves. Some Members of Congress consistently vote against borrowing money, but this faction will not be a concern since the deal took the matter off the table for a year. Ultimately, however, failing to borrow money to pay for programs could lead to defaulting on debt and higher interest rates when the nation inevitably borrows in the future.

By combining all of these things into one package, the House and Senate both found enough support to pass legislation that probably would not pass in individual parts. There is something in this legislation for everyone, except Members concerned about increasing the national debt. This was a major concern for many lawmakers in recent years, but now that no longer seems to be the case.

The bill signed by the president on Feb. 9 also gives Congress six more weeks to figure out how to specifically spend these additional funds in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.



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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.