Editor’s note: Information for each candidate, including biographical information, qualifications and reasons for seeking office is published below and in the December issue of Counseling Today. Online voting for all ACA, division and region elections will begin Dec. 1.
The three candidates vying to become the American Counseling Association’s next president-elect were asked to provide their plans to address several issues of importance to the association and the counseling profession. The following answers are published as the candidates submitted them. They have not been edited.
MGCA DIVISION CANDIDATES
Candidate information unavailable
Thomas I. Watson
My name is Tom Watson, EdD, LPC, NCC, CPCS (Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor), and I am running for President-Elect of the ACA Division, Military and Government Counseling Association (MGCA). My familiarity with understanding the needs of service members comes from various experiences, which include the following: (a) my father was a career Air Force officer who served from 1944-1970, (b) while a college counselor, I served as liaison to returning combat Veteran students and military personnel, and (c) I worked through a contractor as a Team Member with the Marine Forces Reserve Psychological Health Outreach Program, traveling to Marine Forces Reserve units in the Eastern Region conducting behavioral screenings and connecting Reservists and their families with resources local to their living areas and specific needs. In an effort to enhance the care provided to service members and first responders, many of whom have previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces, I believe that the first step is to enlighten students in existing master’s and doctoral-level counseling programs to aspects of both the military culture and to the unique needs of military personnel and first responders, and their respective family members. I have presented on military issues with focus topics ranging from military etiquette if providing counseling services on military installations, LPC and LMHC requirements for direct work with VA clients, considerations when accommodating returning combat Veteran students in the higher learning environment, and examining the unique needs of often-overlooked military-affiliated populations such as civilian husbands of military women and the adult children of career military upbringing. In my capacity as Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Clinical Training at Argosy University in Atlanta, Georgia, I currently serve as advisor, mentor, and dissertation committee member for doctoral-level Counselor Education & Supervision students interested in military-related counseling issues or research.
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Margaret A. O’Hara
I am a Consultant, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (CA) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (NY) with a private practice in San Diego, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor for clients in both states. A Certified Experiential Therapist and Human Services Board Certified Practitioner, I also hold state (NY) and international substance abuse counselor certification. A National Certified Counselor with 25+ years experience in the field, I’ve worked as Clinical Director, Clinical Supervisor, Private Practitioner, Assistant Professor and School Counselor. I am the current President of the California Association of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. As Board Director the two years prior, I chaired the Ethics Committee and was the San Diego Region Networking Chair. Named 2006 ‘Counselor of the Year’ by the East End Counselors’ Association I served 7 years on their executive board and was Division President of ASGW for the New York Counseling Association. I am a current doctoral student at Oregon State University.
Throughout my career I have worked with active duty service members, veterans and military family members in counseling centers, private practice, schools and colleges. I joined MGCA in 2012, attend MGCA pre-conference learning institutes and earned the Military and Government Counseling Certificate for focused attendance at the 2014 ACA conference. I provide pro bono counseling through Give-An-Hour. It is a privilege to give back to those who have served our country. In July I was invited to participate in a national three-day suicide prevention training sponsored by the Army and Army Reserves. I was the only civilian in attendance. I am deeply grateful to be part of the solution regarding this national crisis. My reason for seeking office is to channel my counseling and leadership skills for the benefit of the MGCA board and those in military and government (federal, state, local) whom the association serves.
Professional background and experience:
Education: Ph.D., Counselor Education and Supervision, Northern Illinois University
M.S.Ed., School Counseling, Northern Illinois University
B.A., Psychology and Sociology, Roosevelt University
Assistant Professor, Clinical Coordinator, & School Counseling Program Coordinator, Governors State University (IL)
School Counselor, CUSD 300, Carpentersville, IL
Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS)
Licensed Professional Counselor (IL)
National Certified Counselor (NCC)
Professional Educator – School Counseling (IL)
Current Professional Memberships:
American Counseling Association (ACA), Military and Government Counseling Association, (MGCA), Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), American School Counselor Association (ASCA), North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NCACES), Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES), Illinois Counseling Association (ICA), Illinois Counselor Education and Supervision (ICES), Illinois School Counselor Association (ISCA), Chi Sigma Iota (CSI)
Military and Government Counseling Association (MGCA)
2015 – Member, Grants Committee
2015 – Member, Conference Collaboration Committee
I am honored to be nominated for the position of Director for the Military and Government Counseling Association, and embrace the opportunity to serve the membership and contribute to the ongoing growth of professional counseling. As a military spouse and counselor educator, my research and professional interests heavily include advocating for the inclusion of military families and military culture in counselor preparation and continuing education. I want to be more involved with MGCA so I can advocate for the inclusion of military culture, and improve counselor competence in working with military service members and their families. As a Director, I hope to further my personal knowledge of military service members and their families, support the efforts of our members, enhance partnerships with other professional stakeholders, provide leadership through collaboration, increase the educational opportunities for our membership, and engage in the development of leadership and advocacy within MGCA.
Keith J. Myers
Serving as a Director with MGCA would be an honor! I’ve been a member of MGCA for a few years and enjoy engaging the community of counselors, students, counselor educators, and advocates who regularly serve the military population. I am qualified to serve this division as a veteran-focused clinician, writer, counselor educator, and advocate.
Clinically, I have served veterans on a weekly basis for the last six years in a variety of settings that include intensive outpatient and private practice contexts. Approximately 40% of my practice clients are veterans. I specialize in treating combat PTSD with EMDR therapy and other evidence-based treatments. I work with military couples that are struggling with issues that are common to military families (i.e. marital conflict, deployment stressors, and other systemic issues). I also utilize a holistic approach when working with this population that often involves spirituality and faith, and cognitive, emotional, physical, and mental health issues.
As a veteran-focused author, I have written several publications, including peer-reviewed articles and occasional pieces for Counseling Today, providing insight and practical tips for clinicians working with veterans. These articles integrate my clinical practice, the latest research/literature, and other military-based trainings into my writing.
Having taught as an Adjunct Faculty member with universities over the last 6 years, I regularly facilitate research-informed discussions into the classroom. These discussions included issues related to military such as female veterans, war trauma, traumatic brain injury, homelessness, and career issues. I am looking forward to continuing my research interests as I start my post in Jan. of 2017 as Assistant Professor.
Finally, being an advocate for veterans is a powerful and rewarding piece of my work. Being the voice of veterans who are being marginalized or need a systemic intervention gives me great meaning and purpose. Thank you for your consideration!
I grew up in a family with a proud military history, including my grandfather and great-uncle. Currently, I have lived the life of a military family member since my brother joined the Army in 2004, which has given me the unique perspective of knowing the struggles not only of the men and women in uniform, but also of those they leave at home. As the country’s military involvement overseas changes, so to do the needs of the soldiers and their families, and therapists need to be aware of these needs and informed of the changes. Given the widely publicized issues in getting services from the VA, we as a therapeutic community need to be more proactive in how we reach these individuals and how we advocate for them. In my brief professional career, I have already begun working to increase awareness of these situations within my coworkers and professional acquaintances, as well as the community as a whole. I did extensive research throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies – including talking to active duty servicemen and -women – about what they need to survive and be successful navigating the challenges of wartime and returning home. From a professional perspective, I have gone beyond the minimum requirements regarding training in trauma competencies and family counseling. Finally, I was very active in my fraternity on several different levels, including working on and chairing committees, holding executive board positions, and ultimately serving as the president of the governing body for all fraternities at my university. This is a cause near to my heart personally and professionally, and I am looking forward to working to make positive changes in the lives of our men and women in uniform, as well as those around them.
I want to serve the Military and Government Counseling Association (MGCA) on its Board of Directors as it continues to expand its support and advocacy for the work of counselors in military and government positions. My professional work with Fire, Police, EMS, Emergency Service and Military professionals has shown me the vital importance of working with and support of those members of our communities who place themselves in danger for the common good. It has shown me that we as a profession need to better understand these professionals so that we can better serve and not isolate them. It has also shown me that we as a counseling profession need to better understand the clinical and personal impact of working with these professionals so that we can better train counselors to meet the clinical needs of their clients and not themselves suffer from traumatization. I believe that the MGCA is working to do all of these things through their journal which explores issues significant to military and government counseling perspectives; their support of educational presentations focusing on areas of awareness, need and training; and their educational outreach to provide counseling professionals with tools, understanding and resources. I value and support the MGCA’s efforts and believe that they are vitally necessary in developing a better understanding of the people who serve our communities in military and government roles.
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Graduate Student Representative
My qualifications are as follows: I am a graduate student at Capella University studying to become a knowledgeable and productive counselor. I don’t want to kid myself or others with the mindset that I would be perfect for the Graduate Student Representative position. My experiences within the field of mental health range from leading a support group for soldiers and veterans, to working with kids and adolescence at summer camps and a behavioral clinic. I have grown up within the military community as my father was a career military man, and I stayed within the community when I married my husband six years ago. The welfare of military and their families is very important to me. Having a representative with a deep rooted background in the military and multicultural family origins, I could bring to any discussion an outlook that may have been missed. I feel that this would be beneficial in building a bridge between students that are active duty, veterans, or family members of military. Thank you for your consideration for the position of Graduate Student Representative.
I am currently a doctoral candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University. I have been engaged in providing counseling services for the military community in both private practice settings and through government contracts for over 10 years. I am very passionate about building resiliency within the military community, through research, clinical practice, and training.
I demonstrate a strong commitment to the mental health profession in the area of enhancing awareness of the unique needs of the military culture. I am an active member of the American Counseling Association, National Board for Certified Counselors, and the Military and Government Counseling Association. I have developed and presented several workshops and trainings on the mental health needs of service members, veterans, and military families at national, regional, and local conferences. As an NBCC master’s level volunteer mentor, I have had the opportunity to serve two military scholars (veterans) and one youth fellow (military spouse). My service as a volunteer mentor through the NBCC Foundation over the past two years has afforded me the opportunity to support future clinical mental health counselors within the military community. My dissertation research includes expanding gender specific treatment methods for women veterans reintegrating into civilian life.
As I continue my service to the military community, I am often seeking diverse opportunities to make an impact in bridging the gap in mental health disparities within the military population. I believe in the importance of building collaborative teams that are mission focused. As, the MGCA Graduate Student Representative my goal would be to support the leaderships’ vision for enhancing the development and growth of the Military and Government Counseling Association, specifically among the graduate student population.
I am seeking the graduate student representative position as I want to help students initiate change and support them through their programs. My husband is a current member of the military and has served for nineteen years. As such, I have a passion for helping military families, helping raise awareness for suicide rates and PTSD in the military, and hope to help spread this knowledge within this position. I worked for the Veteran Affairs Medical Center which helped me gain a better understanding of how difficult the transition is from a war zone back to home and the stress the family endures while the soldier is overseas. While I have not served on any ACA or other student committees, at work I have served on multiple committees to help initiate change and create better processes to make our jobs easier and clients happier. I am a mentor for new associates, serve on process change committees, share insight and feedback on current procedures and client experiences to ensure that we are doing the best we can to make our client experiences positive. In addition to this, I belong to various groups including the AMCD graduate student group, ACA, ATSS (Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists), APA, Omega Zeta chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, and Psi Chi. Lastly, I am in the process of helping to build a family readiness group at my husband’s unit as well as volunteering at Family Promise of Gwinnett’s women’s shelter.
As a current graduate student at Roosevelt University, I am familiar with the difficulties of classes, time management, licensure exams, and a multitude of other anxiety-laden concerns graduate students face. Being married to an Airman has shown me the ups and downs military members face on a daily basis on a personal level that has affected my professional goals.
As the Graduate Student Representative for MGCA I will help students foster a desire to work with this underserved population, and explore career opportunities and possibilities upon graduation. Appealing to counselors in training is a piece of the puzzle paramount to providing up-to-date assistance to as many members of the armed services and their families as possible, along with civilian employees of the various levels of government as well. Working with veterans and military personnel is often overlooked in the graduate programs and even the counseling world, so it is necessary to open up the possibility of working with this population to counseling students. I want to show students across the country in various academic programs that exploring membership in ACA and MGCA can lead to important and beneficial networking opportunities as well as a successful and rewarding career serving those that serve our country.
I want and can fill a need to assist students in the MGCA and ACA in their academic and professional development as counselors serving those who serve us.
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