Advocacy Heroine: Dr. Casey Barrio Minton
Interviewed by Dr. Alessandra Rhinehart, CSI Leadership Fellow and Professional Advocacy Committee Member; Upsilon Theta Chapter, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
It was an honor to be granted the opportunity to interview Dr. Casey Barrio Minton; a remarkable professional counseling advocate and co-founder of the Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy.
Dr. Barrio Minton became interested and passionately engaged in advocating for the counseling profession during her counselor education training. Her first semester of study, she engaged in conversations regarding what it means to be a professional counselor, advocacy for the profession, and professional engagement. Not only did her faculty members talk about and engage in advocacy themselves, they encouraged students to take action, as well. As she reflected on the realization that she has never been in a place where professional advocacy was not an option, Dr. Barrio Minton recalled that advocacy was simply a part of what they did. She explained her role as an advocate is consistent with the reasons she was drawn to the counseling profession. Even as a small child, she would ask questions, see injustice, and want to do something about it. Therefore, walking into a training program that emphasized professional advocacy made sense.
Dr. Barrio Minton believes advocating for the counseling profession is important because most counselors have a really strong set of skills and can help people make meaningful changes in their lives. She reasoned that if we truly believe that, we must advocate for offering those skills to others. She explained advocating for the profession is about making sure we prepare the best possible counselors to ensure a marketplace where our skills are recognized and valued, and people can do the work they are trained to do.
Dr. Barrio Minton defined her current role as an advocate for the counseling profession, primarily, by her role as a counselor educator. In conversations with master’s level students, she works to help them understand what it means to be an advocate, at their clinical placement sites and also within the profression. She has similar conversations with doctoral students, focusing on their opportunities to go on to train counselors to advocate for their skills in their local communities, states, and beyond. She encourages students to consider how to create systematic change to ensure injustices do not happen and that they are able to serve clients who are impacted by injustice.
Speaking humbly and excitedly, Dr. Barrio Minton spoke of her role in creating and editing the Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy, which just finished its second volume year. The CSI board developed the journal in a conversation about having a venue to talk about professional issues, conceptualized as out of the room counseling issues, including leadership, advocacy, professional identity.
Dr. Barrio Minton encouraged students and new professional advocates who worry they may not know enough or have the experience to take action to believe they can make a difference by initially getting used to the feeling, as most strong leaders and advocates in the profession have similar feelings. Secondly, finding a mentor and a place, or group of people, where they feel comfortable and at home to get the lived experiences to form an identity and get connected. She advised students to find a way to get connected and trust that networking can lead somewhere, serving as an informed source of renewal and change. She also encouraged intentionality, while allowing for happenstance opportunities to produce greatness.
Dr. Barrio Minton described time and managing distractions as the biggest hurdles to overcome when advocating for the counseling profession. She related time management to learning to say no to attractive opportunities that are not necessarily intentional. Comparing her behind-the-scenes role as editor to engaging in face-to-face advocacy at the legislative level, she encouraged developing advocates to pursue opportunities that fit their strengths, in order to make the greatest contribution while completing tasks effectively and efficiently.
Dr. Barrio Minton stated that the advocacy effort that has brought her the
most personal satisfaction is the process and product of developing the Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy. She regarded that work as something she will be able to look back on years from now and say, "That was a good call.” She also spoke with admiration for the work being done on the state level to promote professional advocacy, such as with Victoria Kress in Ohio and Gerard Lawson in Virginia, explaining this work is where we are ultimately going to see change and her part is creating a space for those conversations and helping to train advocates to do the work.
Originally posted December 5, 2015 at csi-net.org.