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Jul 10, 2019

Association of Creativity and Counseling and CAM

          The American Counseling Association has been supportive of complementary and alternative modalities through many means, but the primary home for CAM is found within the Association of Creativity and Counseling (ACC). ACC celebrates many forms of creativity including expressive arts, interpersonal/relational approaches, the human-animal bond, nature-based therapies, play therapy, and CAM. This is the 19th ACA division and it was established in 2004 by Dr. Thelma Duffey (Chair) and Stella Kerl McClain, JoLynne Reynolds, Colleen Connolly, Drema Albin, and Christopher Brown. ACC has its own journal, the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, and Drs. Duffey and Kerl-McClain wrote about the creation of this division in their 2006-2007 article in the journal so I won’t re-iterate it here but it is more than worth checking out. It’s a great read!

            In my graduate work in a pastoral counseling program, I was not aware at the time of any particular place for people with an interest in CAM within ACA. Most of my conference travel was to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) which was focused solely on CAM but it included all mental health professions, not just counselors and I was seeking people with a counselor identity who were interested in CAM. My new friend, Dr. Suzan Thompson, informed me about ACC and I joined right away and attended my first ACC conference in the Spring of 2015 which was the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of ACC. At that conference in San Antonio (also where ACC was founded), I met Dr. Jacqueline Swank and Dr. Ioana Marcus and I was warmly welcomed into the ACC community. I found that most people at the conference were interested in the elements of ACC that were not CAM but I did meet a few and I felt encouraged and supported in my interests. After that conference I was asked to run for the ACC executive board and I became a trustee and the membership chair, a position I have held since 2016. In the past three years a lot has happened within ACC and I would love to share that with you.

            Our past president, Dr. Ioana  Marcus (equine therapy), and our current president, Dr. Ruth Ouzts Moore (play therapy and more), have expanded the vision of ACC to include webinars and interest networks within the division. These both will be launching soon and we are excited to increase our interactive, collaborative, and educational offerings this year. ACC runs a fabulous conference for the division every fall and this year it will be in Clearwater Beach, FL, on September 6 and 7. I have attended conferences in San Antonio, Savannah, and Clearwater Beach and I cannot rave enough about how wonderful they are! They are very student-focused, inclusive, creative (yup!), informative, cutting-edge, affordable, and most of all, FUN!  The rest of our esteemed board, LoriAnn Stretch, Kelly Aissen, Shane Haberstroh (also our Assoc. Journal editor), and Ann Ordway have expertise in so many ACC areas but I know some of them include addiction, legal issues, and methodology. In the meantime we want to invite people to submit to our journal, read the journal which is sent both online and in hard copy format, and to participate in our upcoming webinars and interest networks. The webinars and interest networks focus on expressive arts, interpersonal/relational approaches, the human-animal bond, nature-based therapies, play therapy, and CAM. Our goal for the webinars is to educate and offer continuing education and our goal for the interest networks is to engage our membership in ongoing connection and community building. Currently we have many members interested in the various expressive therapies, such as writing, visual art, movement, play therapy, and a quickly-growing interest in the human-animal bond led by Dr. Carlene Taylor. I am heading up the interest network regarding CAM with Jennifer Isabelle Ong and I look forward to increasing collaboration with our members who are interested in all things CAM, but it appears that most of them are interested in the mental health applications of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. We hope to move from our silos and connect to support each other emotionally and intellectually and to collaborate well to improve clinical work and research processes and outcomes. We would love to have you join us on our creative journey!
Dr. Christine Berger is an assistant professor of counseling and is licensed as a professional counselor in Maryland and Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Loyola University Maryland in 2009. Her research interests focus on the mental health applications of complementary and integrative therapies such as Emotional Freedom Techniques, energy healing, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness and she has published nationally on these topics. She is also a member of the executive board of the American Counseling Association division, the Association of Creativity in Counseling, and has been the Secretary of the Virginia Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. As a joint endeavor with Old Dominion University and the Integrative Therapies Institute, she offers training in complementary and integrative therapies to licensed professional counselors.

Suzan K. Thompson, Ph.D. is a licensed professional counselor in Virginia with over 30 years’ experience. She helps adults learn practical tools and strategies to manage anxiety, depression and trauma. Dr. Thompson also offers training in supervision as well as complementary and integrative therapies to professional counselors. Please visit:


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