“What value is there in belonging to the American Counseling Association?” That’s a question asked about 56,000 times each year by our current members during their renewal period. It is asked by thousands of others when they contemplate joining for the first time. The most compelling reasons to belong depend on where you are in your career as a graduate student, professional counselor or counselor educator. It is an important question, however, and I wanted to share a few points for you to consider.
1) Some say they can Google information about counseling. That’s probably true. However, information from ACA has been created specifically for counselors or has been vetted by our professional staff in terms of meeting your needs. For example, the recent ACA webinar on the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) was created specifically for those who work as licensed professional counselors (LPCs). If you did a Google search on ICD, you would receive about 12 million different references.
2) ACA’s government affairs efforts have resulted in legislation that will allow LPCs to practice independently within the U.S. military health care system known as TRICARE. This legislation, which Congress approved and sent to President Obama for his signature, wouldn’t require that LPCs graduate from any specific accredited counselor education program. ACA was the only major counseling organization advocating for this language. Regarded as the voice of 56,000 professional counselors, ACA was seen as a champion for the profession.
3) For many graduate students, the cost of education and living expenses is daunting. That’s why ACA pioneered the benefit of providing liability insurance for its master’s-level student members at no additional cost to their annual membership. Graduate students are the profession’s future, so we challenged ourselves to find a way to make things more affordable for those who will carry the profession into the middle of the 21st century. I may be biased, but I truly believe that the ACA policy, offered through HPSO, is the best one on the market today.
4) Professions are defined by various components, including a code of ethics. For more than 60 years, ACA has developed and defended the ACA Code of Ethics, to which members must adhere. This lets the public know that those who follow the ethics code are committed to protecting those who seek the services of professional counselors. When public policymakers or courts of law ask about professional counseling, we are proud to say that ACA members abide by a code of ethics.
5) I would be remiss if I didn’t reference the discounts that ACA members receive on professional liability insurance, the savings on registration for our 400-plus-session annual conference, our various webinars and the Free CE of the Month, which is valued at more than the cost of membership.
So, as 56,000 members (and thousands of others contemplating ACA membership) ask themselves if there is value in belonging to ACA, I hope this information (along with what you can read about at counseling.org) will help answer that question. Quite simply, we strive to represent and support you as a professional counselor or counselor educator.
This month, many in the United States, including my extended family, will observe Thanksgiving Day. We actually reflect on those things for which we are thankful. Over the years, the answers have varied depending on the age of the individual and what has occurred during the year, but I know that the sentiments are heartfelt. One thing I am thankful for is the work that the 56,000 members of ACA are doing each and every day for millions of children, adults and families who are facing life’s challenges.