Advocacy Hero: Dr. Jeffrey Mostade
Interviewed by Jonathan Ricks, Professional Advocacy Committee Member, Nu Sigma Chi Chapter, North Carolina State University
It was an honor to interview Dr. Jeffrey Mostade, an outstanding professional counseling advocate, clinician, and educator. This article documents his personal advocacy journey and his advice for other professional counseling advocates.
Dr. Mostade’s first experiences with advocacy for professional counseling began when he joined Chi Sigma Iota in his Master’s program at John Carroll University. Through his active membership, he and his chapter advocated for students and the profession through the establishment of a Wellness Conference in which proceeds funded a scholarship program for future counselors. When this endeavor won an award with CSI, he was privileged to meet outstanding advocates like Drs. Jane Myers, Tom Sweeney, and Courtland Lee. Another inspiration was his advisor and mentor during his doctoral program at Kent State University, Dr. David Brooks, Jr. Brooks modeled professional advocacy through such efforts as promoting licensure requirements in all states. At this point in his professional development, Dr. Mostade became increasingly interested in licensure portability, and recognition of counselors. These notable figures in the counseling profession inspired him while helping him realize the power that comes with advocacy.
Dr. Mostade believes it is important to advocate for the counseling profession because it helps us provide more effective services, become better collaborators with our clients, and serve a wider client population. He believes that professional advocacy always benefits our clients and this is what is most important. Currently, Dr. Mostade is a clinician and advocates for the profession through workshops and continuing education programs for non-profit organizations. Additionally, he has be become involved in advocacy efforts in India, where he served as a school counselor for three years. He plans to continue to travel to India annually to advocate for the counseling profession through his work with SNEHA, an organization that works to create viable urban communities in Mumbai. Dr. Mostade provides professional development to the clinicians in India to improve the level of service provided. He plans to continue to offer skill-building opportunities while learning more about counseling in India.
Dr. Mostade encouraged students and new professional advocates who worry that they don't know enough and aren't experienced enough to focus on two goals: speak their own truth and speak from their heart. He suggested using one’s own experiences to guide their advocacy efforts and realizing their own power to advocate. Dr. Mostade noted that advocacy is not a quality or gift, but a skill that can be mastered. Just as he did, students can learn the skills of advocacy from their mentors, advisors and other counseling advocates and by being an active member of CSI. He encouraged new advocates to communicate their experiences to inspire and teach others how to become advocates for the counseling profession.
Dr. Mostade noted that early in his advocacy work, he felt less powerful than some of the professionals he met, like congressional representatives. However, when he engaged in advocacy efforts, these people were very respectful and listened and valued the information he shared with them. He realized the importance of believing in himself. He learned that if it is difficult to advocate for himself or his profession, then he can advocate for his clients. Through his continued advocacy work, Dr. Mostade learned that he had a perspective that was valued and a responsibility to advocate.
The biggest hurdle that Dr. Mostade faced as an advocate was his introverted nature. He learned early that he needed to intentionally develop extroverted skills and gain a comfort with speaking up and expressing his feelings. He credits Drs. Chris Faiver and Paula Britton for supporting him and showing him that he can be a counselor and advocate while still being himself. Their supportive and demanding nature provided a model for Dr. Mostade’s teaching.
Dr. Mostade stated that the advocacy effort that has brought him the most satisfaction is professional counseling licensure and portability. He finds it very rewarding that all fifty states now have licensing laws and consumers are much more aware of the role of counselors than in the past. He remarked that counselors now get more respect and are recognized as mental health professionals. On a personal level, Dr. Mostade receives the most satisfaction when a client makes a positive change. He recognizes the role that professional advocacy plays in obtaining this gratification. Using Dr. Mostade as a model, let’s join the advocacy movement and continue to promote the professional counseling profession!
Originally posted January 22, 2016 at csi-net.org.