Advocacy Heroine: Dr. Carol Bobby
Interviewed by Hayley Stulmaker, Professional Advocacy Committee Member
It was an honor to interview Dr. Carol Bobby, the President and CEO of CACREP. This article documents her efforts in advocating for the counseling profession along with advice for professional counseling advocates.
Dr. Bobby became an advocate for the counseling profession in the early 1980s when she was a student at the University of Florida. In her master's degree program, she got to witness the creation of CACREP, since Dr. Joe Wittmer, chair of UF's Counselor Education Department, was CACREP's first executive director. As a doctoral student, when family commitments took her to the Washington, DC area, she luckily landed a part-time job at the American Personnel and Guidance Association, known now as ACA, and was assigned to review applications for the first administration of NBCC's National Counselor Examination (NCE). She was in the midst of excitement around the formation of another new national credential in counseling. Dr. Bobby recognized that people who created CACREP and NBCC had a clear vision for the profession and that she was fortunate to have them as mentors. While still working at APGA headquarters and soon after completing her doctorate, CACREP announced its search for a new executive director. Dr. Bobby applied and, to her great surprise, was hired. Additionally, she continued to value her clinical training and wished to practice, so she pursued licensure in Virginia under the supervision of Ted Remley.
Dr. Bobby believes advocating for the counseling profession is necessary if we want the public to understand and recognize the high level of quality preparation required by the field. Dr. Bobby asserts that counselors must be diligent in identifying counseling as a unique and distinct profession. She wants counselors to be recognized for the unique education and training that they possess and for the high ethical standards to which they are held through their professional memberships and credentialing bodies.
Dr. Bobby views herself as an advocate primarily through her role with CACREP, the organization responsible for developing and maintaining the accreditation standards for counselor preparation programs. As CACREP's CEO she has numerous opportunities through phone calls, conferences, and speaking engagements to advocate with a variety of publics including students, prospective students, consumers of counseling services, government officials, state licensing boards, CSI chapters, and international colleagues. She believes that building a strong professional identity is an integral component of effective advocacy and is willing to speak to anyone about its importance.
Dr. Bobby encourages students and new professionals who worry that they don't know enough and aren't experienced enough to talk to other counseling advocates and to volunteer to work with them. She also believes that the smallest tasks can sometimes make a huge impact.
Dr. Bobby notes that she learned early on in her advocacy work to not take it personally when people disagree with you. She encourages counselors to recognize that when professionals have differing opinions, you sometimes just have to agree to disagree, otherwise advocacy work can get you down. When you work on the front lines you will face criticism; but you must not take the criticism personally, since it is not about you, but rather your beliefs for the profession that may clash with others' beliefs.
When advocating for the counseling profession, Dr. Bobby believes her biggest challenge is handling the politics within the profession. She notes that the counseling field is not always unified in its presentation to the general public, causing problems from an advocacy standpoint. Dr. Bobby's vision is for counseling organizations to work cooperatively and collaboratively in their advocacy efforts, coming together to speak from a unified perspective on who counselors are and how they are trained.
Dr. Bobby states that two recent advocacy efforts that have brought her the greatest satisfaction are the affiliation agreement between CACREP and CORE to move toward a single accrediting organization in the profession and the recent recognition of counselors for independent practice as mental health providers by the federal government. She also notes the movement to begin having CACREP written into licensure requirements as an important direction for future advocacy work.
Dr. Bobby concluded her interview with the message that everyone can be an advocate from the counseling profession, not just those labeled as leaders in the profession. She encourages all counselors to engage in advocacy through participation in CSI. It can be as simple as writing a letter, posting on counseling list-serves, or blogging.
To learn more about Dr. Bobby, you may read her biography.
Originally posted January 2, 2014 at csi-net.org.