Counseling Today, Features

A stockpile of counselor educator knowledge

Jenny Christenson December 14, 2008

The new ACA-ACES Counselor Syllabus Clearinghouse seeks to collect syllabi from counselor educators nationwide, creating an online library in which educators can share resources to create the most effective courses in counseling. The ultimate goal of the syllabus clearinghouse is to help provide exceptional educational resources to graduate counseling students so that they, in turn, can provide the best possible services to clients upon becoming professional counselors.

The syllabus clearinghouse is a joint project of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. The clearinghouse had its beginnings in November 2007, when ACA and ACES realized the need for counseling faculty to have easy access to model syllabi. “It all goes back to our clients,” says ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan. “In order to provide the best possible services to them, we need to train the best students that we can. Providing the clearinghouse is really all about being the best teachers we can be to train the best students, who can then provide the optimal service to our clients.”

Becoming a better counselor educator can often mean learning from other faculty who have walked the same path in the same specialty. That’s why the ACA-ACES Counselor Syllabus Clearinghouse is accepting syllabi in a wide array of categories, including school counseling, professional orientation, counseling theories, child/adolescent counseling and spiritual/religious values, among about 25 other categories, to suit the varied needs of counselor educators. None of the categories is deemed more important than the others because, as Kaplan points out, “The most important syllabus is the one on the topic you’re putting together right now.”

The syllabus clearinghouse will be an active depository of syllabi that serves both first-time counselor educators and seasoned faculty members. New professors can get detailed information about developing their own syllabi from the samples available in the clearinghouse, while experienced educators will have an abundance of new resources to help them infuse creativity and variety into their existing class plans.

Counselor educators who submit syllabi to the clearinghouse will be recognized for their contributions, gaining professional recognition as well as widespread acknowledgment of their graduate schools’ counselor education programs. In addition, counselor educators responsible for the first wave of submissions through the end of 2008 will be recognized as charter contributors in venues such as the ACA and ACES websites, Counseling Today, ACAeNews and Spectrum.

The benefits of the syllabus clearinghouse to counselor educators will be twofold. They will be able to share tangible examples of their best work, gaining recognition and a wider network of counselor colleagues in the process. In turn, other counselor educators will be able to learn from these examples, improve their own curriculums and produce counseling graduates who are better equipped to meet the needs of people in today’s society. In the end, “the benefits trickle down to clients,” Kaplan says.

“This is really a very unique project,” says Vikki Cooper, ACA’s librarian and a key organizer for the clearinghouse. “It provides material that is not readily available to counselor educators.”

ACA handled the technical aspects of the project, which include housing the syllabi and making the webpage functional. But as Kaplan points out, “ACA is indebted to ACES for its professional expertise in delineating topics and areas for this project. They helped us choose topics, areas and rules for submitting syllabi.”

“The ACA-ACES Syllabus Clearinghouse is just one more way in which our organizations are looking at how best to help the counseling profession and, in this case, those who are entrusted with educating tomorrow’s professional counselor,” adds ACA Executive Director Richard Yep. “I appreciate the forward thinking of the ACES leadership who worked with us on moving this project forward.”

The syllabus clearinghouse is scheduled to be available online by early December.

Submitting syllabi

The ACA-ACES leadership has provided several guidelines for syllabus submissions. While submissions are open to all counselor educators, only ACA and ACES members will be able to search the clearinghouse, which will reside on the online library section of the ACA website. Submitted syllabi do not have to meet CACREP requirements or follow any particular format. Clearinghouse managers will periodically review the site’s content and contact syllabus authors to see if they would like to provide updated versions.

Syllabi will be searchable by author name, college/university name, syllabus title, key words and category. While counselor educators are not required to provide their phone numbers, it is recommended that they include their e-mail addresses so fellow educators can contact them with questions. There is no remuneration for the submission of syllabi.

“We have gotten a wonderful response so far (nearly 200 syllabi had been submitted as of early November),” Cooper says. “I think we will continue to get more syllabi every year as professors add new syllabi. And it will be a wonderful benefit for our members.”

In discussing the goals of the ACA-
ACES Syllabus Clearinghouse, Kaplan paraphrased a quote from Alfred Adler: “The road to mental health is helping others.”

“Adler felt it was really important to contribute to the common good,”
Kaplan says. “The clearinghouse is a prime example of how counselors can fulfill the Adlerian mandate to help their colleagues.”

Jenny Christenson is a past staff writer for Counseling Today.

Letters to the editor:

Accessing the ACA-ACES Syllabus Clearinghouse

Visit the ACA Online Library at

  • Click on “Library” and log in with your ACA member user name and password.

To submit a syllabus to the clearinghouse

  • Send an e-mail to and attach your
  • syllabus in either Word or Rich Text Document format.
  • Include your name, institution, office e-mail address and office phone number.
  • Delete any contact information that you do not wish to be made public.

Incomplete information may delay the posting of your syllabus. Direct all questions, comments and feedback to ACA librarian Vikki Cooper at or 800.347.6647 ext. 281.