ACA Responds to Dear Abby Column

Jan 16, 2015
In response to a recent column titled, “Dear Abby: Reader hopes to find low-cost counseling," ACA drafted and submitted an official letter on behalf of its 55,000 members.
Read the Dear Abby column here.

Below is the text from ACA's letter.

Dear Abby,

First, thank you for encouraging your readers to “seek professional help” in many of your advice columns. In a recent column titled, “DEAR ABBY: Reader hopes to find low-cost counseling,” you provided a list of four suggestions. Unfortunately, you failed to mention one very important profession: Counselors.

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is the world’s largest association representing professional counselors in various practice settings (55,000 members strong). ACA strongly encourages its members to contribute to the public good and actually requires them to consider an individual’s financial situation when establishing fees. In addition, most universities with a counseling graduate program have a counseling center on campus for training purposes and offer reduced rates or free services for their students and the community.

Please note that counselors are very different from psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in that counselors approach mental health from a wellness model rather than a medical model. This means that counselors do not see individuals as being “sick,” but rather as needing support and guidance to manage their own lives. Counselors put an emphasis on providing a nonjudgmental, compassionate, and safe space for their clients to explore concerns. They strive to empower diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

Just to provide some facts regarding the importance of counselors and ACA: Professional counselors need a master’s or doctoral degree; 21 states require their professional counselors to follow the ACA Code of Ethics; ACA addresses multicultural competence and discourages value-based referrals; and ACA is on the forefront of modern counseling topics such as distance counseling, the use of technology in counseling, and the use of social media in counseling.

Unfortunately, you are not the first to overlook counselors when referencing “professional help.” Our counselors are passionate, diverse, and committed to helping people from all walks of life and all depths of despair to survive and thrive in today's world.  They deserve to be recognized as a strong profession that plays an invaluable role in our society. Please take a moment to acknowledge them the next opportunity you get and please share ACA’s resources for finding professional counselors:

As you know, your guidance affects many people. When it comes to mental health, it is absolutely critical to provide thoughtful, thorough, and accurate information as a public service.

Thank you for your time.


Richard Yep, CAE, FASAE
Chief Executive Officer
American Counseling Association


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