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Please contact Tiffany Erickson at terickson@counseling.org or 703-823-9800 x310.

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



Click here to read past Latest News stories from ACA.





ACA Government Affairs Blog



ACA Weighs In on Wording Restrictions at the Centers for Disease Control

by Scott MacConomy | 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.

HHS oversees CDC, an agency with the stated mission to save lives and to protect people from health threats. This effort is described on the CDC website as follows: “To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.”

In part, the ACA letter to HHS includes the following:

“The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics honors diversity and embraces a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. In addition, the American Counseling Association has expressly supported the dissemination of accurate information about gender identity to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs.”

ACA objects to a ban on the very language that helps government officials communicate appropriately about people who have experienced bias, and also objects to the idea of the possible exclusion of all diverse people under an agency that protects the nation’s health.

Professional counselors are required to use counseling techniques that have a scientific foundation. The American Counseling Association letter also conveys that ACA is alarmed that CDC officials must find euphemisms for the terms “science-based” and “evidence-based”—and by the implication that these are concepts to be avoided at CDC.

The ACA request asks that these and other allegedly banned words no longer be barred from budget documents—or any other communications at the Centers for Disease Control. 

 

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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.