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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)
LinkedIn (American Counseling Association)
Counseling Today, the award-winning monthly magazine of ACA, is on:
Facebook (Counseling Today)
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.
Puerto Rico: The Crisis Continues
Nearly five months after Hurricane Maria upended life for everyone in its path, Puerto Rico remains in critical condition. Power has not been completely restored to the island—and some areas are not expected to have power until May. An estimated 200,000 people have left the island for Florida. Those that remain face a broken infrastructure, food shortages, power shortages, and unrelenting stress.
How you can help: One way counselors can help their colleagues in Puerto Rico is with a donation to the American Counseling Association Foundation. The foundation’s mini grants provide critical funding for an array of programs, including those in Puerto Rico. The American Counseling Association Foundation accepts online donations here.
Keep in mind that it’s important to support a relief program that is highly rated for its good work. Charity Navigator, one of the nation’s largest evaluators of philanthropic programs, offers a list of top-rated organizations providing relief in Puerto Rico and other areas affected by the hurricane. The list can be found online here.
For more information:
A Feb. 8 New York Times podcast provides a snapshot of Puerto Rico’s ongoing mental health crisis with a look at the island’s only suicide prevention hotline.
A Feb. 6 PBS News Hour segment examines the consequences for Puerto Rico’s education system and checks in with one of the 25,000 students who left the island for the mainland.
to read past Latest News stories from ACA.
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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.