Advocacy Heroine: Dr. Loretta Bradley
Interviewed by Melanie Kautzman-East, Professional Advocacy Committee Member, Alpha Upsilon Chapter, The University of Akron
Dr. Loretta Bradley is a professor of Counselor Education and is Coordinator of the Counselor Education Program at Texas Tech University. If you were to Google her name you would find that she has been the recipient of multiple awards and is well known for her contributions to the counseling profession through teaching, scholarship, and service. What is lesser known, but equally as impressive and instrumental as her accolades, are her years of advocacy on behalf of the counseling profession.
When asked when she first became engaged in advocating for the counseling profession, she pointed to her involvement in the American Counseling Association (ACA) and its divisions. This prompted her to realize that the counselors needed more advocacy so that people would become more aware of the profession and its benefits. She indicated that this realization became more of a focus for her when she was elected ACA president. She worked tirelessly to position the ACA to showcase advocacy in action.
When asked why she believed that advocating for the profession of counseling was important, she responded, "the hallmark of a good profession is that the public knows what that profession does. People should automatically think that ‘a counselor can be of help’, or ‘we should contact a counselor’ as counselors can be of assistance in various matters. ” She went on to say, "when awareness is increased so is understanding for the scope of what this profession can do.”
Dr. Bradley defined her current role as an advocate for the counseling profession as multifaceted. She currently advocates for the profession locally by the raising awareness of people in the community of the scope of practice of counselors and by training and encouraging her students to be a voice for the voiceless. From a national perspective, Dr. Bradley has modeled advocacy efforts by participating in ACA leadership training and by advocating for the counseling profession through meeting with members of congress. She also advocates for the profession at the state level.
When asked what advice she has for students and for new professional counselors who worry that they do not know enough or believe they aren’t experienced enough to believe they could make a difference, she responded, "regardless of the experience level, students and new professionals can make a difference.” She goes on to say that in her experience, "both students and new professionals are usually able to advocate and know more than they think they do.” She identified both and educational and mentoring approach to advocacy and indicated that "another way for students and new professionals to begin to engage in advocacy works is to seek out mentoring by a more seasoned advocate.” Dr. Bradley encourages her students to get on-line and find examples of advocacy in action. Dr. Bradley strongly recommends having specific examples of ‘advocacy in action’ to share with key stakeholders and legislators. She indicates that having a broad range of examples to share highlights the versatility of the counseling profession and can help to build that awareness of the scope of the profession in others.
Dr. Bradley indicates that the biggest hurdle she has had to overcome while advocating for the counseling profession has been "getting people involved in advocacy.” She goes on to say that "it wasn’t that they didn’t want to advocate, they were hesitant because they weren’t sure they has the skills for advocacy work.” Dr. Bradley says that to overcome this hurdle, "she spent time encouraging them and provided them with advocacy examples. I also invited them to work with me in whatever advocacy cause I was working on at the time.”
The advocacy effort, on behalf of the counseling profession, that stands out most to her occurred at a local level and a national level. At the local level, Dr. Bradley reports that advocating for an individual whose family was unaware of services for which they were eligible was most meaningful. At the national level, advocating for the profession by meeting with legislators and helping them to understand more about the counseling profession as well as encouraging them to sponsor legislation that would benefit counselors and the client’s they serve was most meaningful.
Overall, Dr. Bradley states, "when I think of advocacy I think of speaking up for someone.” She believes that "advocacy occurs across several levels including clients, families, and larger systems.” Her final thought is that "although it is not easy, professional advocacy requires a lot of hard work, but the rewards are many.”
Originally posted January 22, 2016 at csi-net.org.