To develop and implement a unified, collaborative advocacy plan for the advancement of counselors and those whom they serve.
Listed below are three objectives designed to help achieve this goal. Links from each objective will take you to sample or model projects. These projects can be replicated and will hopefully help chapters develop new project ideas that will also meet the goal. The CSI Advocacy and Technology Committees encourage chapters to submit additional projects for inclusion on the webpage.
- Objective 1. Professional counseling associations will agree upon a common identity to articulate publicly.
- Objective 2. Professional counseling associations will proactively collaborate on advocacy projects, e.g., legislation, research, grants, and related activities.
- Objective 3. Professional counseling associations will be unified in seeking counselor-related legislation at both the state and national levels.
By working in teams that represent more than one specialty area of the profession, participants focus their energy on what they have in common rather than their differences. In the process, they are learning to respect and appreciate the significance of the diversity of specialties within the counseling profession.
Chapter Advocacy Projects
Proposal for a State Conference with Advocacy as the Topic:
Focusing on Advocacy and the Future of the Counseling Profession
The following is a proposal that CSI Chapters can use to develop and submit a program proposal for their state counseling association’s annual conference.
In 1998, Chi Sigma Iota International instituted an advocacy initiative calling for specific training on both the student and professional level so that professional counselors could advocate for themselves and the clients they serve. Six common themes were developed, and information on the goals of these themes will be presented along with suggestions for activities to promote advocacy.
Even as the profession continues to develop, professional counselors continue to experience identity concerns. Government officials and the general public also have a low level of awareness of the scope and responsibilities of professional counselors. In 1998, Chi Sigma Iota International instituted an advocacy initiative calling for specific training on both the student and professional level to prepare counselors to advocate for themselves. From the development of a definition of advocacy, six themes were identified, as well as goals, objectives, activities and obstacles. It is the goal of this program to promote basic education about the topic of advocacy and the six themes identified by the Consortium for Counseling Advocacy. Group discussion will be a vital part of this program exploring how the six themes are being addressed in the state of North Carolina.
Introduction and Brief Overview of the CSI Counselor Advocacy Initiative
Definition of Advocacy
- MS Word Thesaurus - support, encouragement, backing, sponsorship, and promoting.
- CSI two-prong definition - counselors advocate for themselves Counselors advocate for their clients Counselors promote the uniqueness of our profession, as we are committed to the prevention and the enhancement of wellness, as well as those currently struggling with mental health issues.
The Six Themes
An Overview (Use PowerPoint presentation available from Nancy Sherman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Counselor Education Goal: To insure that all counselor education students graduate with a clear identity and sense of pride as professional counselors.
- Intra-professional Relations Goal: To develop and implement a unified, collaborative advocacy plan for the advancement of counselors and those whom they serve.
- Marketplace Recognition Goal: To assure that professional counselors in all settings are suitably compensated for their service and free to provide service to the public within all areas of their competence.
- Inter-professional issues Goal: To establish collaborative working relationships with other organizations, groups, and disciplines on matters of mutual interest and concern to achieve our advocacy goals for both counselors and their clients.
- Research Goal: To promote professional counselors and the services that they provide based on scientifically sound research.
- Prevention/Wellness Goal: To promote optimum human development across the life span through prevention and wellness. Counselor Advocacy in the State of North Carolina (open discussion)
- Counselor Education: Is advocacy being taught on the graduate level? Do graduate students have a clear understanding of the differences between a professional counselor, therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychologist? Support of professional counseling groups, CSI, ACA? Underwriting of importance of CACREP and professional licensure?
- Intra-professional Relations: How do counselors in NC define themselves - counselors, therapists, etc.? How do the different divisions (ACA-NC) work together to support their similarities? How does networking take place between NC counselors, Southern Division of ACA, LPC Board, CSI and NBCC? Are NC counselors taking advantage of CSI, ERIC, and NBCC being located in NC?
- Marketplace Recognition: What are the marketplace barriers to a counselor in NC? How is the scope of what a LPC practice consists of shared with others in NC? How does the NC federal legislature support fair compensation for counseling services? How does one advocate for services and compensation with insurance companies in NC? How is state licensure and national accreditation supported and rewarded in NC versus counselors with degrees, but not licensure? How does the local media promote the advocacy of professional counselors, their clients, and the services provided?
- Inter-professional Issues: Who are the other professional groups in NC that we should be networking with on advocacy? How do these groups share resources? Which groups could potentially block or hinder the practice of professional counselors? Can we utilize each other for further training on professional issues?
- Research: How are we promoting research not only by those in university settings, but in the community as well? How do counselors stay educated in NC on the latest types of therapy? How are counselor competency outcomes assessed in NC? How is research rewarded or recognized? How can counselors benefit from other’s research (ex. drug company studies that support counseling coupled with medication)? How do we address the lack of time and finances counselors’ experience as barriers to doing research?
- How are client needs identified in NC?
- How much focus is on prevention programs?
- How is wellness advocated for in NC for clients?
- How is wellness promoted in individual and group sessions?
- How do counselors promote personal wellness in themselves?
- What kind of training could be helpful to promote personal wellness in counselors?
- How do counselors allow for time to promote personal wellness?
Closing comments and "Where do we go from here?”
Supporting the networking of conference/workshop attendees to pick an area of advocacy to address individually or as a group.
Resources helpful for developing activity:
PowerPoint Presentation on Advocacy Themes: available from Nancy Sherman: email@example.com.
Resources in North Carolina CSI Website: csi-net.org
NC Board of LPC’s 893 US Hwy. 70W, Suite 202 Garner, NC 27529 919-661-0820
NBCC 3-D Terrace Way Greensboro, NC 27403 336-547-0607 www.nbcc.org
Colleges/Universities with professional counselor programs in North Carolina:
- Western Carolina University
- Lenoir-Rhyne College
- NC Central University
- NC State
- UNC Pembroke
- Wake Forest University
- UNC-Chapel Hill
- East Carolina University
American Counseling Association - www.counseling.org
People needed for implementation:
A coordinator of the program who will write the proposal according to conference guidelines and submit proposal. Several people to serve as co-presenters.
The timeline will be determined by deadlines established by the state conference for submitting proposals. After acceptance, several weeks for putting the program together and assigning roles for presenters.
Name of chapter and person to be credited with project:
Amy Leary, CSI Fellow Upsilon Nu Chi University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Professional Counseling and the State Legislature
Objective 3: Participants will learn the importance and effectiveness of presenting a unified front for the entire profession by working together on projects that benefit any part of the profession.
The assignment is to develop three teams consisting of CSI Members, primarily students and faculty who are majoring in or, teaching in, various specialty areas within the counseling profession (i.e., Career, Clinical, Marriage and Family, Rehabilitation, School, etc.).
Team "A" will monitor, discuss, and prioritize bills that are introduced in the State Legislature which will significantly affect the various client populations served by professional counselors (i.e., children and youth, the elderly, career challenged, families, under-represented groups in terms of education or opportunity, physically/mentally/emotionally challenged, etc.). The Team will then prioritize in order of urgency (i.e., which has the greatest chance of passing, most significant impact on largest number of client population, etc.)
Team "B" will monitor, discuss, and prioritize legislation that is introduced which has the potential to impact the practice of the counseling profession (i.e., third party reimbursement, right to practice, equity with other school professionals for school counselors, equity with other mental health provider groups, etc.). They will also prioritize in order of the significance of impact on the profession and the efforts required by the counseling profession to bring these legislative efforts to fruition.
Team "C" will represent the "advocacy" strategy and coordination group. Their job is to conduct research on the State Legislature, its process and committee structure. They target members of key committees that are likely to receive the proposed legislation once it is assigned to a committee. They develop a strategy for contacting and influencing the Legislative Committee(s). Team "C", in consultation with members from Teams A and B make specific assignments to team members for contacting key members of legislative committees to share their concerns and attempt to influence the proposed legislation in the direction of advocacy for either client groups or the counseling profession. Team "C" meets regularly to stay in touch with the progress of Teams "A" and "B". The CSI members involved maintain contact with the Legislators until specific bills are either passed or defeated.
Resources helpful for developing activity
Well in advance of the legislative session, invite a panel of members of the State Legislature to attend a CSI meeting. It is important to invite the University Central Administration as well. Team C would be responsible for putting together a very brief presentation on the counseling profession and hosting the Legislators. Then the legislators would be asked to describe the legislative process and to offer their opinions and projections on legislation likely to be introduced. Be sure to balance the panel between the two major political parties and between the two houses.
There should be a reception for the meeting with legislators. There will be expenses in going to the State Capitol to attend Committee meetings. There may be telephone expenses in contacting Legislators during session. There may be photocopying costs for making copies of the proposed legislation to be discussed.
People needed for implementation
A minimum of nine (9); three for each team would be needed but the activity could accommodate much larger teams. A moderator for the meeting with the legislators would be needed.
Timeline for developing and implementing activity:
The activity must be designed and understood well in advance of the State Legislative Session with contacts and responsibilities assigned.
Name of Chapter and Person credited with project:
Dr. Howard B. Smith, Sr., Director for Professional Affairs
American Counseling Association
1-800-347-667, ex. 397