Are you a “best kept secret”? Does your community know about the amazing work that you and your fellow professional counselors do? Are other members of your higher education community aware of the academic rigor, research and scholarship among those who call themselves “counselor educator”? Do the parents, faculty and administrators of your school know about the hard work, compassion and long days that you devote to your K-12 students? How about those of you working in private practice, rehabilitation, career development or college counseling centers? Professional counselors are also hard at work in business, community agencies, government facilities, the military, hospitals, religious organizations and many other work settings.
Regardless of work setting, many of you likely qualify as unsung heroes. Granted, you may receive accolades from your clients or students, but does your community at large really know about the good work you do? Are you hesitant about promoting it because it would feel like blowing your own horn? Don’t think of it that way. It’s really about letting your colleagues and members of your community know that professional counselors do incredibly important work to lift up the lives of those with whom they interact. Counselors are linchpins to ensuring that communities stay safe and productive and are healthy environments for people.
I know many of you don’t feel that you have the time or energy to do anything else after spending very long days dealing with challenging situations. However, if we all took just a little time to spread the good word about counseling, the burden of doing this would be so much lighter. The media is a great way to get the word out about the amazing work you are doing. Journalists are often looking for stories to write or issues on which to report. Contact your local newspaper or the TV or radio stations in your town or city. I have talked with many of you over the years, and I continue to be in awe of the work you are doing. You are special people, and your communities have a right to know about your many efforts to change and improve lives.
In case you need some help with what to say to the media about your work, here is an example from ACA that describes the scope of practice for professional counseling:
“The independent practice of counseling encompasses the provision of professional counseling services to individuals, groups, families, couples and organizations through the application of accepted and established mental health counseling principles, methods, procedures and ethics.
“Counseling promotes mental health wellness, which includes the achievement of social, career and emotional development across the life span, as well as preventing and treating mental disorders and providing crisis intervention.
“Counseling includes, but is not limited to, psychotherapy, diagnosis and evaluation; administration of assessments, tests and appraisals; referral; and the establishment of counseling plans for the treatment of individuals, couples, groups and families with emotional, mental, addiction and physical disorders.
“Counseling encompasses consultation and program evaluation; program administration within and to schools and organizations; and training and supervision of interns, trainees and prelicensed professional counselors through accepted and established principles, methods, procedures and ethics of counselor supervision.
“The practice of counseling does not include functions or practices that are not within the professional’s training or education.”
I would suggest that you look at this somewhat formal description and integrate it when talking to the media about the work you do. Let media members know about your specific role in professional counseling, along with details about your training, education and licenses. Make sure to reference how you and your counseling colleagues are helping the local community. You might be surprised at how interested some journalists will be. I hope to hear from some of you about how things go when you blow the horn for counselors.
As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter
@Richyep. Be well.