Professional Advocacy Agent: Dr. Angela McDonald
Interviewed by Jonathan Ricks, Leadership & Professional Advocacy Committee Member, Nu Sigma Chi Chapter, North Carolina State University
It was an honor to be granted an interview with Dr. Angela McDonald, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in North Carolina. This article documents her experiences and motivation in advocating for the counseling profession as a licensed counselor, counselor educator, and President-elect of the American Association for the State Counseling Boards.
Dr. McDonald has always been interested in improving things by challenging the status quo. When she began her counselor education role at UNCP, she became immediately involved in counselor professional advocacy. During this time, the mental health counseling program was housed in the psychology department while the school counseling program was housed in the school of education. Recognizing that this was an inefficient model and valuing the professional identity of counselors, she was instrumental in moving the mental health counseling program to the education program. She educated her students to have clear counselor identities that play valuable roles in treating, diagnosing, and caring for mental illnesses.
Dr. McDonald believes it is important to advocate for the profession because counselors and the community should see that we are a unique profession with a distinct role and identity. She encourages students in counseling to have a strong professional identity so when they become professionals, they may engage in advocacy through educating others about the profession.
Recently, she was active in providing education related to the counseling profession in North Carolina when legislators proposed making drastic revisions to the policy. Dr. McDonald joined with counseling associations and colleagues across the state to provide feedback to the legislators about the potential harm the proposed changes would cause. Ultimately, through these advocacy efforts, the bill was revised and the final changes will require future license applicants to have attended programs with CACREP accreditation. She believes current advocacy issues of importance are upholding the profession of counseling’s need to be its own determinant of its ethical codes, scope of practice, education standards, and parity. Additionally, a unified counselor identity is necessary to achieve success in professional advocacy efforts.
The advocacy project that Dr. McDonald is the most proud of is gaining initial CACREP accreditation of the counseling program at UNC Pembroke. Her efforts included communicating needs, leading a team of stakeholders, and locating the resources needed to reach this important milestone in the development of UNCP’s training program. Today the program has amazing faculty and students with a strong counselor identity who are very active in the profession. In addition to helping a university to achieve initial accreditation, Dr. McDonald is also very proud of and humbled by service to the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. She encourages all counseling students and counselors to get to know their board members and to consider participating in this important public service.
Dr. McDonald is a true example of an advocacy agent for the counseling profession.
Originally posted August 11, 2016 at csi-net.org.