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Advocacy Interview: Daniel Cruikshanks
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Advocacy Hero: Dr. Daniel R. Cruikshanks

Interviewed by Amy M. Moore, Professional Advocacy Committee Member

Dr. Daniel CruikshanksIt was my pleasure to interview Dr. Daniel R. Cruikshanks, a professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Aquinas College. This article outlines Dr. Cruikshanks’ experiences advocating for the counseling profession and invaluable advice to help students and new professional advocates in the field.

While working on his Ph.D., Dr. Cruikshanks started looking at ways in which clinical supervision was being handled in professional counseling. He became concerned about the lack of standards for training or licensure to become a clinical supervisor in counseling. Essentially Dr. Cruikshanks discovered that counseling interns and professional counselors were not always being supervised by professional counselors and, often, by those with no specific training in clinical supervision.

Dr. Cruikshanks feels that as one of the younger disciplines in the social sciences, the field of counseling is still struggling to establish its identity. Traditionally counseling has been made up of folks from a number of other disciplines and there has been reluctance by many to embrace a clearly defined professional identity for professional counselors. Dr. Cruikshanks believes that counselors often want to be all things to everyone. He is concerned that, among consumers of professional counseling services, there is a great deal of confusion about who we are and what we do.  He suggests that even among those who identify as professional counselors, there is sometimes confusion about our professional identity. He believes that, until we have the same level of coherent professional recognition as other professionals (like psychologists), we are going to struggle to be able to practice as effectively as we could. For example, Dr. Cruikshanks believes that one of the reasons that we have been unable to participate in the Medicare program is that many professional counselors are unwilling to advocate with their congressional representatives.

Dr. Cruikshanks has served as a member of the Professional Advocacy Committee of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) since 2002 and is currently serving in his second three year term as Co-Chair of this committee. The Professional Advocacy Committee has been actively involved in providing advocacy training for counselors and developing materials to help Counselor Educators integrate advocacy training into their programs. Dr. Cruikshanks notes that the committee has done numerous workshops at conferences and through webinars over the years to help people understand better what it means to advocate effectively for the field of professional counseling. 

Dr. Cruikshanks stated that his passion for professional advocacy likely is a vestige of his upbringing in a politically active family. From his early activity in the anti-nuclear movement and other efforts, Dr. Cruikshanks discovered that grassroots efforts are an excellent way to make a difference. He believes that each of us can make a difference even in small ways. He feels that it’s important that we not ignore things that appear problematic. He stated that if you want to get involved but you are not sure about issues of concern, you can ask for help and guidance. Chi Sigma Iota, the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association and nearly every state counseling association all are actively involved in advocacy and are always looking for opportunities to help individuals become effective advocates.

Dr. Cruikshanks feels that it’s important to understand that there are many issues that affect or threaten our practice as professional counselors. He explains that although there are a number of people at local and national levels working on these, they need help. He explains further that when there is a call for action to write representatives, if no one acts, no change will happen.

Dr. Cruikshanks feels that the biggest hurdle he has had to overcome as an advocate for the field of professional counseling is trying to convince professional counselors of the value of a strong professional identity.  Advocating for the profession matters, and there is need for all professional counselors to participate, even if only in small ways.

As an advocate for the profession, Dr. Cruikshanks stated that his greatest satisfaction came when he made professional identity and advocacy for the profession his primary focus during his term as President of the Ohio Counseling Association. During his term, he had the opportunity to be actively involved in assisting with the revision of the Rules and Laws in Ohio, and he believes that this effort helped to protect and strengthen the scope of practice for Ohio professional counselors.  Dr. Cruikshanks continues in his advocacy efforts, and he hopes all professional counselors will join in this ongoing effort.

Originally posted December 12, 2013 at csi-net.org.

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