Illiana Navarra-Bueno, LPC

Illiana Navarra-Bueno, LPC

Doctoral student and graduate research assistant

Georgia State University

Member Since 2020

ACA is a community of diverse, vibrant counselors and educators who are changing lives and the world at large. Illiana Navarra-Bueno is pursuing her doctorate and advocate for mental health-care services to be affordable and accessible for all.  

Briefly describe a typical day in your work life?  

On a typical day of my doctoral student life, I will attend and TA a course, attend 1-2 courses and sometimes attend my internship site/duties. In between these commitments, I usually collaborate with fellow doctoral students and faculty members or communicate with others for other responsibilities.  

What is the biggest challenge facing the mental health field today?  

Accessibility. Especially for BIPOC individuals, there is a massive issue of access being affordable if they do not have insurance. Barriers to ideal counseling, such as language barriers and inaccessibility, are another issue. Not having many counselors or mental health workers who speak another language often deters diverse clients, as translating services can still be seen as invasive to their privacy, which can make it even more difficult for individuals trying to overcome cultural stigmas around seeking and receiving mental health services.  

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about counseling?  

Counseling is talk. Counseling is looking at an individual holistically and considering all aspects of them beyond just their mental health. Counseling includes considerations of their family dynamics, relationships, career, interests and physical health. All areas of their life affect each other, and counseling considers it all. Considering that, counseling can be more play-focused, art, talk, cognitive, or somatic focused depending on a client’s most prominent need. 

What role do you think counseling plays in the delivery of mental health services in today's society?  

Counseling plays a huge role in increasing accessibility and promoting more professional and client advocacy. With the counseling compact, counseling is beginning to take a forefront approach to increase advocacy and accessibility at various governmental levels. The counseling compact has also allowed for more transparent advocacy around the counselor’s professional identity.  

What do you do to take care of yourself and rejuvenate?  

First and always, I see my own counselor! I live by the saying, “I practice what I preach,” when I work with clients or students, I will never ask them to do or try things that I haven’t done myself. It is so important to model to clients because we’re human, too. I also enjoy painting by numbers and playing with my dogs as other forms of self-care. When I’m not busy with doctoral work, I enjoy reading too. 

What outside of counseling brings you joy? Tell us about your hobbies or outside interests.  

I love to read and travel. I find such joy in learning about other cultures and their history. It naturally allows me to connect with people and clients. I recently starting getting into gaming. I love cozy relaxing games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing where I can farm and world-build how I want too. 

If you’d like to share how ACA membership or participation has helped you along your career journey, please do! 

Being a part of the ACA Governing Council has been a gratifying experience, and I only recently took on the position. I have enjoyed meeting and collaborating with many amazing counselors and counselor educators. It’s been so surreal to meet some individuals whose research and books I’ve read. The experience has also allowed me more of an inside look into our profession and our current issues. The experience overall is helping me prepare to be an advocate and counselor educator.