Monthly Archives: April 2013

ACA launches Sexual Wellness in Counseling Interest Network

By Heather Rudow April 12, 2013

Internet-group-chatThe American Counseling Association Governing Council recently approved two new interest networks: the Sexual Wellness in Counseling Interest Network and the Integrated Care Counseling Interest Network. ACA interest networks offer members a chance to join together to explore areas of common interest or concern.

Counseling Today spoke with Wynn Dupkoski Mallicoat, an ACA student member and facilitator of the new Sexual Wellness in Counseling Interest Network. Each of the 18 networks is free to join. For more information, email Holly Clubb at

How long did it take for the Sexual Wellness in Counseling Interest Network to come into being? How long has it been on the minds of professionals within ACA?

It took approximately one year for the entire process. I began conceptualizing the need in January of 2012 and discussed it with my chair, Donna Gibson, who agreed. We had co-taught a sexuality counseling course in spring 2011 and had many discussions regarding the need for additional training and resources in the counseling profession regarding sexuality counseling, particularly from a wellness perspective. When we taught the “Sexual Healing Learning Institute” at the 2012 ACA Conference & Expo, attendees also expressed a need for opportunities to network with other professionals about sexuality counseling.

 Why did you decide to get involved?

I have been working with adolescents with “sexual behavior problems” for about 13 years. Many of these “problems” were normal developmental experiences for which the parents and the kids had limited information. The problematic behaviors had often gone unaddressed until they escalated to the point of serious consequences. Both the parents and the kids struggled with differentiating between healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviors. In addition, my clients often reported that their previous counselors had either not addressed their sexual behaviors or had provided them with inaccurate information regarding their behaviors.

From my own experience, I knew that sexuality counseling training was limited. I had actively sought to educate myself through conferences, research and consultation/supervision out of necessity to meet the needs of the population I served. Often, even my supervisors and colleagues were unable to answer the questions that arose from working with this population. It was this pattern of observations that led me to pursue my doctoral degree, become a counselor educator and advocate for promoting sexual wellness in the counseling profession.

With each step I have taken, my clients have been involved. I have asked them for feedback on projects, and they have encouraged me and guided me toward focusing on what they felt is needed in the counseling profession. I have been amazed by their insight and passion for helping helpers to help others.

What do you think this interest network can offer that others can’t?

The intention of this interest network is to focus on sexual wellness for all clients, rather than focusing on the needs of sexual minorities or the overall wellness of clients. While both of these areas are extremely important with regards to advocacy, it is important that a greater emphasis on healthy sexual development and expression takes place for all people.

This interest network will provide an opportunity to explore diversity within sexual expression, provide resources for counseling professionals to use in various settings with a variety of clients and share experiences that will benefit each other as we work to incorporate sexuality into the counseling process as a part of clients’ overall human experience.

Furthermore, it is our hope that counselors across the country will be able to connect with each other and offer support. Some regions are more advanced in providing education and training regarding sexuality counseling. By participating in this network, members will have a resource to reach out to each other and meet our clients’ needs.

Finally, this interest network will increase advocacy for a wellness perspective of sexuality to balance the emphasis on sexual dysfunction and deviance that permeates our culture.

Are there any additional thoughts you want to share?

The approval of the Sexual Wellness in Counseling Interest Network is exciting. It has been inspired particularly by the frank conversations that I have had with the teenage girls I have worked with who have openly shared their experiences, needs and frustrations regarding their sexuality and sexual experiences over the years. These girls have struggled to heal from the shame they experienced to move from sexual dysfunction to wellness. They have been cheerleaders in my efforts to increase awareness of sexuality counseling. I am confident that each of the counselors who expressed support for this network can also think of clients who have inspired them to take part in this project. I speak for them when I say to ACA, thank you.


Wynn Dupkoski Mallicoat can be reached at



ACA 2014 Conference call for proposals

April 11, 2013

ACA-HawaiiNeed an excuse to go to Honolulu in March 2014? Submit your conference proposal by June 5, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. ACA is seeking advanced programs in all areas. In support of evidence-based practice, a brief description of the research supporting each proposal is requested as appropriate. Notices of acceptance will be emailed Aug. 7.

Click here to submit a proposal.

Counselors, share your thoughts on the Code of Ethics revision

Heather Rudow April 10, 2013

acaCorpLogoAmerican Counseling Association members are invited to review and submit their comments on the first draft of the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics (COE), the latest revision in nearly a decade.

The draft was officially announced at the ACA 2013 Conference & Expo in Cincinnati at a town hall meeting with the Ethics Revision Task Force. The discussion between attendees and the task force members highlighted the importance of the revision: not only is this the first revision since 2005, it will for the first time set a direction for the use of social media and other technology by counselors.

“The ACA Code of Ethics is a living document,” says Perry Francis, chair of the Ethics Revision Task Force Committee. “It is a reflection of the growth and development of the profession of counseling and, as such, must be updated to reflect the current and future issues and standards of today and the near future.”

The Code of Ethics has evolved significantly since it was first conceived.

 “The first COE [in] 1961 was five pages long and contained no glossary,” Francis explains. “The 2005 COE is 20 pages long and has an 18-word glossary. The next COE will have a larger glossary and directly address cutting-edge issues [such as] social media and values in counseling that are stretching our profession. It is a reflection of the progress we have made and the complexity we face as counselors.” 

Those complexities include the rapid increase in the use of technology and social media by counselors.

 “The 2005 Code of Ethics had a subsection that addressed the emerging issue of online counseling,” Francis says. “But social media … was not even in use as a medium for providing services [at that time]. Today, counselors have websites, Facebook pages and can provide services via virtual reality. Our current code does not adequately address these mediums. The revision will contain a separate section that directly addresses the many issues that counselors need to consider when using these mediums for providing services.”

Francis says the revision is as close to a reflection of the values, wisdom and knowledge of the profession as the committee could make. However, “the voice of the profession is incomplete without input from others, including licensing boards, professional associations and the practicing counselors from all of our specializations. In that way, it becomes the ethics of the profession and not a code created in isolation.”

Members can review the draft and submit comments through May 30. The draft can be accessed here. The final version of the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics is schedule to be unveiled at next year’s ACA Conference & Expo in Honolulu.


Editors note: the revised ACA Code of Ethics was approved and released in March 2014. See:


ACA’s 20th division welcomes child and adolescent counselors from all settings

Heather Rudow April 9, 2013


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The American Counseling Association welcomed its 20th division in March when the ACA Governing Council approved the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC).

ACAC, which has been operating as an organizational affiliate of ACA since 2010, aims to focus on the training needs of counselors who work with children and adolescents, while also providing professional support to those counselors, whether they are school counselors, play therapists or counselor educators. ACAC is the newest addition to ACA’s divisions since the admittance of the Association for Creativity in Counseling in 2005.

Dee C. Ray, president of ACAC, says the idea for ACAC has been a long time coming.

A few years ago, Ray and the other founding members of ACAC were perplexed that ACA had not yet developed a division specifically for counseling children and adolescents.

“We were fairly certain that there were many counselors within ACA who worked primarily with children and adolescents but did not seem to have a home within the larger organization,” says Ray, director of the Child and Family Resource Clinic on the campus of University of North Texas.

As Ray and her colleagues began speaking with fellow ACA members, they realized that there were many counselors who were seeking an organization that specifically related to counseling work with children and adolescents.

“ACA members involved in interest networks for children and school counselors began talking and became more intentional in planning probably around 2009,” Ray says. “We spent two years organizing and building interest.”

In 2010 the group was awarded organizational affiliate status and spent the next two years building infrastructure for the division and recruiting members before becoming an official division. As of March 31, ACAC had 563 members.

As a former school counselor who commits most of her work hours each week to counseling children, Ray says she knew she wanted to be part of growing this division.

“Because ACA offered no division for child counseling, I have been heavily involved in other child-focused organizations,” she says. “I wanted to be a part of an organization that focused on children and adolescents that was made up of counselors specifically. I wanted my profession of counseling to recognize the importance and uniqueness of counseling children and adolescents.”

Many counselors within ACA focus on child and adolescent counseling across various settings, Ray says — ACAC offers a divisional home for all of them.

“There is no distinction in ACAC regarding setting,” Ray says. “We are the home for counselors who identify themselves as counselors of children and adolescents with a secondary emphasis on setting. This is the uniqueness of our organization. We offer information and support for counselors who want to work with children and adolescents in any setting.”

Members can join by visiting the ACA website and clicking ACAC as an added division or by visiting

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at





Behind the Book: Family Violence: Explanations and Evidence-Based Clinical Practice

Heather Rudow April 5, 2013

78075David M. Lawson knows firsthand what it is like to scour multiple texts to find the necessary research and clinical information relating to family violence for his clients. That is why the Stephen F. Austin State University professor and private practice clinician wrote Family Violence: Explanations and Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, which was recently published by the American Counseling Association. Lawson’s primary aim was to create a holistic, unbiased book about the important topic of family violence that counselors either new to the field or already familiar with the subject matter could put to good use.

 How does your book compare with similar books on the market, and why will counselors find it particularly useful?

Currently, there are few books that address both major issues related to the field of family violence as well as clinical applications. Further, many of the books focus on only one particular type of family violence, such as intimacy violence or child maltreatment. My book provides wide coverage of the field of family violence, including theory and research, along with an equally strong focus on evidence-informed interventions.

The text was written with practicing counselors in mind. The text covers a wide range of topics such as assessment and treatment of each major type of family violence (e.g., intimate partner violence in both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships, child maltreatment, dating violence, elder maltreatment), the cultural context for family violence, major explanations for family violence, same-sex violence and incidence, and descriptions of various types of family violence. Material is presented within the context of existing research and scholarly opinion. Further, case examples are offered to illustrate various issues, such as types of family violence, clinical cases and research.

On what basis did you choose the particular case studies featured in the book, and how do you believe they enhanced its content?

 Case studies were actual cases from my own experiences or from published accounts of actual clinical cases. They were chosen for particular topics in the book, such as types of abusers or maltreatment of elders, as a means to add relevance for clinicians.

 How did you first get involved with the subject of family violence?

During my doctoral degree, I volunteered to work in a crisis intervention facility in which most clients were survivors of domestic violence. I knew virtually nothing about treatment and, at the time, there was little written on the topic. After completing my Ph.D., I became involved with women’s shelters and rape crisis centers through placement of students in practicum and internships. Through these contacts, I began conducting separate perpetrator and survivor groups, as well as couple therapy. I have continued to supervise students in these settings, including child advocacy centers, as well as supervise and consult with counselors and other staff in these settings.

 What are the most important take-away messages for the reader?

Family violence is widespread and occurs in approximately one in three families in the United States. Many individuals [experience] family violence issues and yet fail to receive adequate services, often because providers lack appropriate training to identify and treat family violence. This text is intended to address some of those needs. Some survivors fail to note family violence problems unless counselors initiate the discussion or provide an opportunity for clients to respond to violence issues on checklists and inventories. Therefore, family violence issues should be included in all assessments and evaluations.

What particular issues of family violence do you feel your book addresses that others on the market might ignore?

This book provides an overview of the major issues and controversies in the field of family violence, along with relevant information on evaluation and treatment, in a logical order, from specific information and statistics on the various types of family violence to assessment and interventions most appropriate for each type of violence. Most texts focus either on violence issues and research in family violence or clinical issues. This text addresses both areas in an integrated fashion.

What are some main issues or topics in the counseling profession that relate to this book?

Particular issues currently central to the counseling profession that relate to this book are inclusion, multicultural/diversity sensitivity and evidence-based practice.

Who do you feel is the best audience for this book?

Academics will find the book to be a rich source of reference material for classes, research and as a primary text in family violence classes and/or as a supplemental text for applied courses, especially those related to counseling children, couples and families.

Professional counselors can use the book to inform their assessment and treatment of the various types of family violence. The book offers balanced research and an expert-informed presentation of family violence along with critical analysis rather than an ideologically driven work that characterizes many texts in the field.

What inspired you to write this book?

 Family violence and trauma are research, supervisory and clinical areas of interest for me. Therefore, I am always looking for a “better mouse trap.” My own experiences of having to seek out multiple sources on family violence to address research and clinical needs motivated me to write a text that is relevant to practitioners. Many texts in the field promote a particular political ideology — for example, only men are intimately violent — and/or a lone intervention model rather than a balanced, practical and evidence-informed approach to understanding and treating a broad range of family violence issues. This text attempts to provide a balanced perspective on ideology, theory, research and practice.

 Why should counselors feel compelled to read this book?

This book provides an in-depth treatment of the field of family violence, including empirical literature on the various types of family violence as well as evidence-based assessment and intervention methods germane to each distinct type of family violence — male-on-female, female-on-male, same-sex. The book will be especially helpful for those counselors who have little or no experience or training in family violence.

Click here for more information or to order Family Violence: Explanations and Evidence-Based Clinical Practice from ACA.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at