Tag Archives: American Counseling Association

Pettitt to counselors: What are we doing to carve out unity?

By Jonathan Rollins March 18, 2017

At Saturday’s keynote session at the ACA 2017 Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Jessica Pettitt was introduced as someone who “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

Jessica Pettitt gives the keynote address at the ACA 2017 Conference & Expo in San Francisco on March 18. (Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

Then, shortly after taking the stage, she told the assembled crowd that she has created a career out of speaking about unspeakable topics.

Given these early warnings, the audience could have been excused for wondering what was in store for them. But Pettitt quickly won over the more than 1,500 counselors in attendance with her humorous message that focused in part on accepting ourselves (foibles and all) and others — no matter how much their habits or views might frustrate us.

Pettitt, who has been doing diversity work for 20 years, said that a common theme she encounters is people asking themselves why they are not “enough.” At the same time, she said, we tend to want to change the people around us who frustrate us.

“But we are responsible for being frustrated and feeling divisive,” Pettitt said. “There is a reason why we feel the way we do.”

She explained that each person tends to react to the situations that he or she encounters in one of three ways: with their head, with their heart or with action. “All three of these variables are necessary, needed and in us,” Pettitt said. “The toolset you have is exactly what you need to survive.”

The people who frustrate us most are the people who follow different “patterns” than we do when it comes to these head, heart and action archetypes, Pettitt said. But our frustration comes in our desire to change them, she added.

“I can’t make anybody do anything. If we want to be really honest, I can’t really make myself do

(Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

anything all of the time,” Pettitt said. “Why on earth do I think I have some magical power to make someone else be different?”

What is healthier is to view the person as being “differently right” and to recognize that “there’s some good happening in there.”

Taking this view is particularly important in this time of divisiveness in our nation, Pettitt suggested. She challenged the counselors in attendance to look inward and ask themselves if they are promoting a true view of diversity, even when it conflicts with their personal views and beliefs. She pointed out that somewhere in the keynote session were individuals who had voted for Donald Trump, which many counselors cannot seem to comprehend.

“This whole conference is about unity. But have we done something to carve that out?” Pettitt asked the crowd. “We’re so polarized [as a nation] right now. What are you doing to make that not true?”

Rather than focusing our efforts on changing other people, we need to take notice of and take responsibility for our own patterns, she said. This also involves identifying the crucible moments of our lives and our incongruities.

But above all, she said, it means recognizing that “I may not be perfect, but I’m certainly good enough. Right now, I’m the best tool that I’ve got, [so] do the best you can with what you’ve got some of the time. … With each connection, listen, hold space for feedback and leave room for edits.”

Pettitt also challenged counselors in their interactions with clients. “Your job is to help them see that they are enough,” she said. “Sometimes we want to be fixers, but what they really need is a listener. … You can listen to someone without already knowing all the answers.”

 

(Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

 

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Jonathan Rollins is the editor-in-chief of Counseling Today. Contact him at jrollins@counseling.org.

 

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For more photos from the conference, see bit.ly/1MOAysM

 

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Yalom urges ACA attendees to hold fast to self-care and the therapeutic alliance

By Laurie Meyers March 17, 2017

At Friday’s opening keynote session of the American Counseling Association 2017 Conference & Expo in San Francisco, psychotherapy sage Dr. Irvin Yalom shared his insights on everything from self-care and vulnerability as a therapist to counseling by text, his love of literature and the essential nature of the therapeutic bond.

Yalom, one of the most influential mental health professionals of our time, began the session by answering a question about the importance of self-care for counselors from moderator Adele Cehrs, the CEO of Epic PR Group and a former journalist. Yalom credited strong personal relationships, including his marriage of 60-plus years and consistent peer support, as keys to his

Dr. Irvin Yalom gives the opening keynote address at ACA’s annual conference & Expo March 17. (Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

own personal self-care. For many years, he has been an active participant in a “leaderless” therapy group for psychotherapists (among other groups) that meets for 90 minutes every two weeks. Within the confines of these confidential group sessions, members share their day-to-day struggles and client interactions that have evoked personal problems or concerns.

“I urge you to get into a group like that,” he told the more than 3,000 counselors assembled for the keynote. “It’s a key part of my week. I never miss a meeting if I can avoid it. That is my major source of self-care. That and getting therapy.”

Likewise, Yalom encouraged counselors in the audience to secure their own personal therapy, not just once, but many times throughout their careers.

In response to a question from Cehrs, Yalom also spoke about how and why he often chooses to “reveal” some aspect of himself in interactions with his clients. He said that his upcoming memoir — which he believes will be the last book that he will write — touches on this topic in some depth.

Yalom said he always tries to be “real” with clients and bring something of himself to the session. When Cehrs asked if he thought that he’d ever crossed a line and revealed too much, he thought for a moment before replying no.

“I can be quite revealing … but always in service of therapy,” he said.

Part of being revealing is choosing to be vulnerable as a therapist and admitting to his clients that he doesn’t have all the answers — a practice he started early in his career. Offering an example, Yalom recalled the first session he had as a young therapist with a female client in her 30s. He asked her what brought her to therapy.

“She said, ‘Well, I’m a lesbian,’” he recounts. This was in 1955, Yalom notes, and he genuinely had no frame of reference for this client at that time. “I don’t know what that is,” he told the client. “Could you please educate me?”

Yalom also recalled another valuable lesson he learned early on that cemented his belief that it could be valuable to put himself into his interactions with clients. While working in a long-term care facility, he was charged with treating a woman with catatonia. He met with her every day, but she never spoke. In fact, she was completely unresponsive, much like a living statue. Unsure of how to connect with a client who couldn’t respond, Yalom decided he would simply talk to her. He began sharing with her what he’d read that morning in the newspaper or talking about how he was doing.

Several months later, the patient was prescribed a new drug that had an amazing therapeutic effect, dispelling the catatonia and allowing the woman to speak again. Yalom was curious about her perception of the “therapy” he had tried during her period of catatonia and asked her what it was like.

“Dr. Yalom,” the woman said, “you were my bread and butter.”

This also demonstrated to Yalom the power of the therapeutic bond. He saw that simply by interacting with the woman and showing her that she still had value, even when she was catatonic, he had brought her comfort.

Yalom, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is also known as a prolific writer of both nonfiction and fiction, including his widely praised “teaching stories” and “teaching novels.” He described these works to the audience as having “one leg in literature and one leg in psychotherapy.”

“When I was a teenager, I had this strong idea that the best thing one could do was to write a novel,” Yalom told the audience. However, he revealed, as the child of Russian immigrants, he essentially had two options when it came to career choice: “We could become doctors, or we could become failures.” Although, in truth, there was a third option. “We could go into business with our father,” he added.

Yalom also responded to queries about advice for new counselors and his views on the role of technology in counseling. He expressed regret that so many new counselors work in environments that focus solely on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) because it is labeled an evidence-based model. “CBT omits the essence of psychotherapy — the interpersonal nature of the therapeutic relationship,” Yalom asserted.

When asked about telecounseling, Yalom talked about being invited to work for a company that facilitates counseling via text. He initially thought it was a horrible idea, but the organization convinced him to supervise some novice psychotherapists. Yalom was surprised by what he learned.

“They [the psychotherapists] weren’t doing what I would have done, but it was working,” he said. “Clients felt very connected.”

But when the company expanded to telephone and video counseling, clients weren’t as enthusiastic.

“There is a whole new generation that wants to talk that way [by text],” Yalom says. “They’re not comfortable on the phone or on video.”

Innovations such as these have the power to help many people, Yalom noted. Still, he reminded his supervisees — and the audience at his keynote — not to lose sight of the therapeutic alliance, even when using new technologies.

“You can still ask [the client], ‘How are things going between us?’”

 

 

Dr. Irvin Yalom (left) shared insights from his storied career and answered questions from the audience at ACA’s annual conference & Expo March 17. At right is moderator Adele Cehrs, CEO of Epic PR Group and a former journalist. (Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

 

Dr. Irvin Yalom signs books and meets attendees after his keynote address at ACA’s annual Conference & Expo March 17. (Photo by Paul Sakuma Photography)

 

For more photos from the conference and Yalom’s keynote, see bit.ly/1MOAysM

 

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Laurie Meyers is senior writer at Counseling Today. Contact her at LMeyers@counseling.org

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Irvin Yalom to welcome questions at ACA Conference

By Bethany Bray January 31, 2017

Attendees of the American Counseling Association 2017 Conference & Expo in San Francisco will have an opportunity to direct their questions to a living legend in the field of mental health.

Irvin Yalom, noted psychiatrist, author and scholar, will deliver the opening keynote speech on March 17 at the ACA Conference. He plans to format his talk as a live interview, fielding questions from the audience. Afterward, he will sign books and take photos with attendees.

“Dr. Yalom has influenced my personal and professional life for many years; his books have often brought a light to my thought process and a shine to my heart,” says Catherine B. Roland, ACA president and chair of the counseling program at the Washington, D.C., campus of the

Dr. Irvin Yalom, pictured at ACA’s 2012 Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “He is the perfect person to speak, given his gentle direction forward — always forward, with hope.”

ACA’s 2017 conference will run March 16-19 at the Moscone West Convention Center
in San Francisco. Jessica Pettitt will give the Saturday keynote address on March 18.

An existential psychiatrist, Yalom is professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford University and author of more than a dozen books, both nonfiction and fiction. He also delivered the keynote address the last time that ACA held its conference in San Francisco, in 2012.

Yalom lives with his wife, Marilyn, in California, where he writes and sees clients at his private practice. His latest title, a memoir, is in the editing process and will be published by Basic Books.

 

CT Online sent Yalom some questions to learn more and get his thoughts on speaking at the upcoming ACA Conference.

 

 

What motivated you to accept this speaking engagement to address thousands of professional counselors?

I am devoted to our field of helping others in need, and I am honored to be invited to address such a large and important group of therapists.

 

What can American Counseling Association members expect from your keynote? What might you talk about?

The format is an interview, and I’m open to discussing my personal history and the development of my particular interests in the field. Namely, group therapy, individual therapy with an emphasis on existential factors and the use of the relationship, and my use of narrative in teaching psychotherapy.

 

Many counselors consider you a professional influence and inspiration. What would you want them to know about your experiences and career path?

[In my keynote, I’ll be] glad to discuss my own development in the field and how I’ve reacted toward psychoanalysis and interpersonal approaches, group approaches and groups for learning interpersonal skills and for inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy.

 

What advice would you give professional counselors, particularly those who may be early in their careers?

Learn as much as possible about all the various approaches, but don’t forget that it is the intensity, the depth and the genuineness of the therapist-client relationship that really is the instrument of change. Also get yourself into therapy — and I advise [seeing a therapist] more than once and with individuals from varying schools [therapy methods]. And leap at the opportunity to be in a group with peers.

 

 

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Dr. Irvin Yalom will speak Friday, March 17, at the 2017 ACA Conference & Expo in San Francisco and sign books afterward. His keynote will also be live-streamed online. Find out more at counseling.org/conference/sanfrancisco2017

 

Find out more about his work and his books at yalom.com

 

 

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Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at bbray@counseling.org

 

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter @ACA_CTonline and on Facebook at facebook.com/CounselingToday.

 

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

 

Powerful conversations, with a side of laughs

By Bethany Bray January 23, 2017

Consider yourself warned: The keynote address on Saturday, March 18 at the American Counseling Association 2017 Conference & Expo in San Francisco will cover some uncomfortable topics.

The speaker, Jessica Pettitt, has a gift for diving into things that are tough to talk about. At the same time, she brings a warmth and humor to the conversation. Pettitt is a stand-up comic in addition to her work as a professional speaker, trainer and author.

Jessica Pettitt

“Jessica Pettitt — educator, student affairs professional, comedian and talented storyteller, will be with us in San Francisco, helping us spread the joy and discover the humor within the crucial sociopolitical scene right now in our world,” says Catherine B. Roland, ACA president and chair of the counseling program at the Washington, D.C., campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “We will go on a journey of politics, theory, advocacy, current events and narrative. And, we will laugh!”

Pettitt specializes in conversations about diversity, LGBTQ issues and other topics. According to her website, her talks “weave together politics, theory, current events and storytelling with large doses of humor reminiscent of Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Wanda Sykes and Paula Poundstone.”

ACA’s 2017 conference will run March 16 – 19 at the Moscone West Convention Center
in San Francisco. Dr. Irvin Yalom will provide the opening keynote on Friday, March 17.

Pettit lives in Eureka, California, with Loren, a philosophy professor, and their two dogs. They will be making a family trip to San Francisco in March to attend ACA’s conference and the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

CT Online sent Pettitt some questions to learn more about her work and her thoughts on speaking at the upcoming ACA Conference.

 

You specialize in speaking about diversity. How did you get into this area? How does it fit your personality and your passion?

I have always been that voice in the room. In sixth grade, my first research paper was on the hypocrisy of sodomy laws. I grew up in Texas, and that [research paper] was more controversial than most might expect. I also competed in our state speech tournament on eugenics, electroshock therapies and mandated birth control [coverage] for low-income women.

I have always needed to give voice to the injustices around me. I stumbled into this being a career as I worked in higher education for the past 15 years, both on campuses and now as a professional speaker and trainer. My personality isn’t just rooting for the underdog, but using my privileges, earned and accidental, to right hypocrisy. I think my own work in a counselor’s office has helped me come to peace with my Jedi skill of finding patterns and naming the missteps in a way that allows everyone to feel welcome to the conversation. A good dose of humor doesn’t hurt either.

 

What do you want professional counselors to know or keep in mind about this topic — especially when so many issues regarding diversity have made headlines over the past year?

It’s hard. It’s been hard. It will be hard. That is why you are often underpaid and overworked. It is important to remember that even though we all (including me) have job security, we must work toward our unemployment. The day no one needs our services means we have healed the planet. Until then, we have to remember to pack our lunch and get to work. This has been the same no matter who is president, whether or not we are at war and no matter our age or generation. Same work. Same tools. This matters.

 

Your bio mentions that an understanding of yourself and others as “differently right” is important in advocacy. Can you elaborate on that?

The concept of “differently right” is the backbone of being good enough now. When striving for perfection and excellence, we tend to get frustrated with and by others. Moreover, we frustrate others. To be good enough, right now, to keep trying to try, we have to take responsibility for how we show up, consciously and unconsciously, and hold a space for whatever is frustrating to be powerful in a way that we aren’t. I am not going down a moral relativism route here – holding a space for someone else to be powerful or “differently right” for 30 seconds allows your space to listen and hear the other person. Once we can more genuinely connect with someone else, we can often uncover patterns of what is missing in ourselves and collaborate together better. And, yes – you, and others, can be wrong.

 

From your perspective, how does your focus dovetail with mental health and counseling?

What doesn’t? Communication, diversity, business, innovation, creativity — I can keep going but these elements are [all] connected to human interaction, on or off the couch. Mental health providers are three-dimensional community members who need to be cared for too as much as their patients when they are at work. We must work to bridge the “on the clock” and “off the clock” realities together for no other reason than keeping them apart hasn’t really been successful.

 

What made you accept this speaking engagement to address thousands of professional counselors?

Continuing education credits. Just kidding! My job is to host powerful conversations that allow folks to heal and continue their good work. Doing this allows me to continue my good work. This is why I speak anywhere I can, as often as I can.

I really only have two skills: 1) giving voice to things that are really hard to talk about and 2) folding fitted sheets.

Oddly, it is number two that gets folks immediately excited. If you want a copy of my folding fitted sheets video, drop me an email at Engage@GoodEnoughNow.com and I will send it along. Your shelves will thank you and then we can get back to the topic at hand.

Honestly, with all that is going on in the world right now, I am honored to be of service as your closing keynote speaker.

 

What can attendees of the American Counseling Association Conference expect from your keynote? What might you talk about?

I don’t want to ruin the surprise, plus anticipation is a good thing, so I will say this: You [will] need a piece of paper and a pen. You will also need to prepare ahead by bringing a full and complicated life history with you to the keynote.

Those of you who think you are boring, that is complicated enough, so just show up. We will map out together how to deal with the most frustrating people, topics and situations, and ACA members will develop a plan right there on one sheet of paper how to keep trying to try. If it goes as planned, you will laugh as much as you learn.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

People feel very vulnerable right now, and some of those people are counselors and mental health workers. Together our work matters, and you are really on the front lines. Thank you for your time, energy and commitment to conversations that matter.

 

 

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Jessica Pettitt

Jessica Pettitt will speak Saturday, March 18, at the 2017 ACA Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Her address will also be live-streamed online. Find out more at counseling.org/conference/sanfrancisco2017

 

Find out more about Pettitt and her work at goodenoughnow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at bbray@counseling.org

 

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter @ACA_CTonline and on Facebook at facebook.com/CounselingToday.

 

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Counseling’s connector-in-chief

By Bethany Bray June 30, 2016

When you see Catherine Roland at a professional event, the number of lives she has touched throughout her career soon becomes clear.

“You can go to any American Counseling Association conference, and when [Roland] walks down the hall, people are constantly stopping her, running up to her, hugging her. She’s left behind quite a trail of very accomplished people,” says Vincent Viglione, clinical assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. “Without her, I would not be where I am today. And it’s not just me. She gives constant, very intentional support, good advice and goodwill through it all. She’s very interested in the betterment of the profession.”

Roland, chair of the counseling program at the Washington, D.C., campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, becomes the American Counseling Association’s 65th president on July 1.

“I think of her as the pied piper of counselor educators. She has a gift for it,” says Larry Burlew, a retired counselor educator and licensed professional counselor (LPC) who worked with Roland at the University of New Orleans and Montclair State University. “She draws people in and knows how to connect well with people. She’s extremely friendly, very loyal and high energy. She’s the glue. She glues people together.”

Many of Roland’s former students have gone on to educator or leadership roles within the counseling profession. Some now pass on her example of mentorship to students of their own. A case in point: Monica Osburn, a past president of the American College Counseling Association, says she was one of five students from her Ph.D. cohort with Roland at the University of Arkansas who went on to become ACA division presidents.

Richard Balkin, another member of that Ph.D. cohort and a past president of the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling, says Roland’s legacy extends to the students he graduates as a professor at the University of Louisville. “They all know who Catherine Roland is. They see her as part of their lineage,” Balkin says. “It really is an ACA family that she has created. … She’s very good at making connections. She’s very relational in her leadership approach. That’s one of the real treats of knowing Catherine and working with her.”

Although Roland has held many titles throughout her career, she says her role of mentor is one of the most important to her. “I was mentored well, and I’ve always thought that was important. You pay it back,” Roland says. “It’s something that you give to someone, and they give it to other people. … My book of students past is very long, and that is such a gift.”

Career journey

Roland brings a diverse skill set to the ACA presidency. She has worked in private practice; in student affairs as a college dean, residence life director and director of a college counseling

Catherine Roland, chair of the counseling program at the Washington, D.C., campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Catherine Roland, chair of the counseling program at the Washington, D.C., campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology

center; and as an educator, both in public school classrooms and as a counseling professor.

As a counselor, Roland’s areas of focus and expertise include LGBT issues, trauma and aging. She is a past president of the Association for Adult Development and Aging, a division of ACA, and has more than three decades of experience in private practice counseling couples, families and individuals. She has also been employed both at small private colleges and large state universities. A native of Long Island, Roland has worked and studied in eight different U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia.

Roland began her career as a high school English teacher at an inner-city school in Cincinnati, where she became good friends with a co-worker who was a school counselor. Through that friendship, Roland became more interested in the ways that counselors could support students and meet their needs.

“I took a couple of master’s classes in counseling, and I knew that was it,” Roland says. “When I was in doctorate work, I just fell in love with the clinical piece of [counseling]. I have always dealt with people of all ages. Counseling, in general, fits my personality very well. I really like working with families, couples … and some of the more difficult stuff — trauma, death and dying, and grief.”

After earning her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, Roland transitioned from classroom teaching to student affairs, working at universities in Philadelphia, just outside New York City and New Orleans. She spent a decade in full-time private counseling practice in New Orleans before becoming a college professor.

While living in New Orleans, Roland was very involved in providing support services, both as a volunteer and as a professional counselor, to those in the community affected by AIDS. This was in the 1980s, when little was known about the disease and a crushing amount of stigma was attached. People would often lose their jobs because of the diagnosis, Roland says.

“There were no medications. … We didn’t know back then. We thought it was a death sentence,” she says. “I devoted most of my practice and personal time to HIV/AIDS work, and that’s what shaped me. It changed my life, and it changed my practice as well. I started doing a lot of pro bono work. … It was a very difficult time in the city, very tragic.”

Roland says she got involved because more and more of her clients were getting sick with HIV/AIDS. As a private practitioner with a background in student affairs, she frequently received referrals to work with young men and college students. When clients couldn’t pay, she counseled them pro bono.

“I can’t even begin to say how many personal friends I lost, one after the other after the other,” she says. “Of course, if you had the [counseling] license and the degree, you wanted to help. … [This experience] is part of who I am. These are the things that shape us. I learned a lot about adversity. It’s what you did. It’s not something to be congratulated [for]; it’s just what had to happen.”

Roland was involved in numerous agencies and nonprofits that supported those affected by HIV/AIDS in New Orleans in the 1980s and early 1990s, including serving as chairwoman of New Orleans Women Against AIDS. She also helped cowrite a training manual for HIV/AIDS counseling that is still used in New Orleans today.

Roland spent many hours counseling clients in a clinic that was housed in a New Orleans church basement. The operation was kept very hush-hush because of the stigma that was prevalent at that time surrounding AIDS. Part of the work involved opening a sealed envelope with the client that contained the person’s test results. Roland would then counsel the client about the diagnosis, which was most often HIV-positive.

“The indignity those guys must have felt, sitting in a cold room in the basement of a church,” Roland recalls. “You [the counselor] are on one side of the table, and the guy comes in, and he’s never seen you, you’ve never seen him. You’ve got an envelope in your hands which hasn’t been opened yet, so I’m also surprised when I see [the test results]. It never occurred to me that that was hard to do. In retrospect, it was horrendous. It was just what you did. Someone had to do that. … I think back, and I’m so happy to have been a part of that, so proud to have been a part of that.”

A mover and a shaker

Many of Roland’s former students say that she possesses the ability to see qualities and potential in people that they may not recognize in themselves. She is described as the type of mentor who applies pressure when needed but also gives students enough room to grow and learn on their own.

“There were times with me when [Roland] needed to sit back and let me go, and times when she needed to provide more mentorship or challenge me,” says Balkin, an LPC and ACA fellow who is the editor of the Journal of Counseling & Development. “I think she struck that balance very well.”

“She truly is one of the most intuitive people that I’ve ever met. As a student, that was kind of scary. You felt like she was peering into your soul,” says Balkin with a chuckle. “But that allows her to form deeper connections. … It’s not just what you do, but how you get there. That’s important to her.”

Osburn, director of the counseling center at North Carolina State University, describes her former professor and dissertation chair as a “seed planter.”

“She’s so unassuming. It’s just a series of small, building-block snippets that help turn you into this person you’d never thought you’d be. No one moment defines it. It just solidifies over time,” says Osburn, an LPC supervisor. “She is a quiet leader, intentional and thoughtful. She really has a knack for making you feel [that] you are the most capable and worthwhile person, which gives you the confidence to take a leap of faith that you maybe didn’t think you were ready for. And she’ll always be there to catch you if you fall too.”

“She sees things in people that they don’t even see themselves,” Viglione adds. “She sees their strengths, what they need, and she orchestrates it for them.”

In addition to being an intuitive and relational mentor, Roland is a visionary leader who is very driven, according to several people who know her well. “She’s extremely kind and giving of herself, her heart and her time,” Osburn says. “She is this unassuming, always-smiling person, but don’t let that fool you for a second. She is sharp — and fiery if she needs to be.”

Viglione, an LPC and clinical supervisor who has a private practice in Denville, New Jersey, studied under Roland at Montclair State and later worked with her in private practice, sharing an office. He expects that Roland, as ACA president, “will be a driving force — an absolute driving force. I’ve never seen her back down from anything or take shortcuts. She’s pretty straightforward. She knows what she wants, what she needs, and she pursues it single-mindedly. She’s a mover and a shaker, without a doubt.”

Viglione and Burlew saw these attributes come out in Roland as she worked to build a doctoral program at Montclair State a few years ago. When Roland joined the faculty at Montclair State, the university’s counselor education program offered only a master’s degree track. She soon crafted a proposal to introduce a Ph.D. program for counselor education and presented it to the university administration.

A Montclair State dean initially said no to the proposal, Burlew remembers, because the university was considering the creation of several other programs at the time. But that didn’t stop Roland. She worked diligently to rework, edit and finalize her proposal, and the school’s president bumped it to the head of the queue, according to Burlew.

Montclair State’s Ph.D. counseling program, of which Roland was the inaugural director, came to fruition in less than two years. At the time, it was the only counselor Ph.D. program in the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, Viglione says.

“She hand-picked the professors, designed [the program] and made it happen,” Viglione says. “Everything she puts her hands on, she makes it the best possible thing it can be.”

Burlew also credits the program’s existence and growth to Roland’s effort, vision and initiative. “She just kept at it  [even] after people said, ‘This is never going to happen.’ … It was just like a whirlwind. It was like lightning. That’s how she works. She does things 200 percent. If it’s really important, she’ll figure out a way to work through barriers.”

Catherine Roland, surrounded by students from the first counselor Ph.D. cohort at Montclair State University, at a farewell dinner held for her as she was leaving the university in 2013. Roland was instrumental in creating the university’s counselor Ph.D. program. The students gave her this photo in a frame inscribed with the words “Thank you for believing in us!”

Catherine Roland, surrounded by students from the first counselor Ph.D. cohort at Montclair State University, at a farewell dinner held for her as she was leaving the university in 2013. Roland was instrumental in creating the university’s counselor Ph.D. program. The students gave her this photo in a frame inscribed with the words “Thank you for believing in us!”

The year ahead

Roland is taking the reins at ACA during what may appear to be a turbulent time. In May, the association announced its decision to move its 2017 annual conference out of Nashville after Tennessee passed a law allowing counselors to deny services to prospective clients based on “sincerely held principles.” Denying services based solely on a counselor’s personally held values is a violation of the ACA Code of Ethics (see cover story for more details).

Roland served as president-elect during the past fiscal year under outgoing ACA President Thelma Duffey. As president-elect and a member of the ACA Governing Council, Roland was involved in the discussions and decision to pull the conference out of Nashville. Roland says she is aware of and prepared for the extra demands that will be placed on her and the association in the year ahead.

“I never thought it would be an easy or a simple thing to be president, but this year more than ever, it will be more complicated and intricate,” Roland says. “It’s going to be a challenge, and I’m up for the challenge. … I think I can approach it with a good heart, ready to learn as much as I can, in addition to what I’ve learned [already].”

“Catherine is very approachable,” Burlew says. “If you feel things should be going in a different direction, you can talk to her and she’ll listen. She has an open-door policy. You can walk right up to her as an ACA member, and if she thinks action needs to be taken, she’ll take action.”

Balkin believes that thanks in part to Roland’s previous experience and professional focus on issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, she is the right president at the right time for ACA. “She’s very in tune to the issues that are at the forefront of ACA today,” he says. “I think she’s going to have a very well-timed presidency. … She is a capable person who will, I think, articulate very clearly, compassionately and very empathically the direction that ACA is moving the profession.”

While serving as president, Roland says she will have two focuses: life span development of minority populations and bringing ACA’s branches, divisions and regions together for mentorship and leadership.

“I think we have a lot of things in common among us as far as ACA’s regions, divisions and branches [go]. I want to tap into that. We’re more alike than we are different,” Roland says. “I believe we have more common ground than we understand, and I want to harness that common ground. From that stems the best kind of leadership and leaders.”

 

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Meet Catherine Roland

Degrees: Ed.D. in counselor education and M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from the University of Cincinnati; B.A. in English literature and education from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia

Licensure: Licensed professional counselor, national certified counselor and licensed clinical supervisor

Has taught or worked at: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, D.C., campus (current position); Georgia Regents University (now Augusta University), Augusta, Georgia; Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas; University of New Orleans; Delgado Community College, New Orleans; St. Mary’s Dominican College, New Orleans; Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York; Temple University, Philadelphia; and University of Cincinnati (as a graduate assistant)

What ACA members may not know about her: She currently works a block and a half from the White House. She’s an only child from an Italian American family. She’s an animal lover and a self-described “cat lady.” She loves to travel (Cape Cod, New Orleans, New York City and the Maine coast are her favorite destinations). She also enjoys being outside and taking walks, photography, needlepoint, knitting and going to plays, musicals and museums. Her taste in music is wide-ranging; her favorite genres are opera, country music and rock ‘n’ roll.

 

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Bethany Bray is a staff writer and social media coordinator for Counseling Today. Contact her at bbray@counseling.org.

Letters to the editor: ct@counseling.org