There is an adage about having “power in numbers.” I believe that adage, so I want to share a few of those numbers with you. At the end of March, I was honored to be with more than 4,500 professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students at the ACA Conference & Expo in New Orleans. In about three months, more than 150 ACA leaders from the branch, region, division and national levels will meet in the Washington area for leadership development and visits with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. And a few months back, when Argosy University shut down with very little notice, ACA put together information and resources within one week to help those who were displaced. This information was further supported by resources posted by many counselor education programs and sister organizations such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the counseling honor society, Chi Sigma Iota. Since Congress introduced an ACA-supported bill earlier this year that would allow licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to practice independently under Medicare, our members have generated more than 12,000 emails to elected officials in support of the legislation.
When the counseling profession comes together, many positive results are possible. So, I am asking our more than 52,000 members to be on the lookout for an ACA VoterVoice message that might ask you to communicate with your elected officials. This message could come to you in the next few weeks, the next few months or even next year. VoterVoice is the platform that the ACA Government Affairs team uses to send legislative alerts to our members. There could be many reasons for you to receive a legislative alert from ACA over the next 12-18 months.
As noted, the House and Senate introduced ACA-backed legislation that would allow LPCs to practice independently under Medicare. This legislation is long overdue. With the growing shortage of mental health providers, especially in rural areas, we are hopeful of getting more Senate and House co-sponsors for this bill than we have had with previous iterations.
State-level legislation that would affect professional counseling and those served by counselors seems to be on the upswing. We are doing our best to fight off legislation that would allow for the denial of mental health services to potential clients, and we also continue to monitor legislation that would have a negative impact on professional school counselors. Many of you are aware that ACA has worked at the state level to prevent the practice of so-called conversion therapy on minors, and we know that without your support and advocacy, we would not have been nearly as successful in those endeavors.
So, I encourage you to “stay tuned” and to take part in our advocacy efforts designed to help the counseling profession and those you are serving now or will be serving in the future. To those of you who have already been such great participants, thank you! To those who are new to ACA, I encourage you to become active and involved.
Last but not least, May and June are the time when many of you are experiencing a very special passage — the transition from graduate student to new professional. On behalf of the entire staff, we congratulate all of those receiving their master’s or doctoral degrees. ACA would love to continue being your professional partner for resources and information, so let us know how we can be of service.