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Professional Advocacy Agent: John Laux
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Professional Advocacy Agent: Dr. Michael Brubaker

Interviewed by Zanovia P. Tucker, Mu Beta Chapter, Western Michigan University

It was an honor to be granted an interview with Dr. Michael Brubaker, an Associate Professor and Coordinator in the School of Human Services at the University of Cincinnati. He is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor – Clinical Supervisor (LIC-DC-CS) in Ohio. This article documents his inspiration and satisfactions in advocating for the counseling profession.

Dr. Brubaker has been advocating from the start of his career; however, he was not always aware that he was advocating. When he became conscious about the ways that client and professional advocacy are intertwined with one another, he realized that being a quality professional counselor is advocacy in itself. He wanted to provide exceptional clinical care for clients while also advocating for the counseling profession and those who serve within it. Also, Dr. Brubaker believes it is important to advocate for his students, helping them attain the same rights and privileges as comparable professionals.

Dr. Brubaker believes it is important to advocate for counseling professionals in order to better serve our clients. He noted that the work that counselors do is uniquely different from any other profession. Clients deserve to receive services from people who are properly trained in the field of counseling, who can make an impact on the health and well-being of others. Dr. Brubaker remarked about the shortage of professional counselors at Veteran Administration (VA) facilities, where there is a need for mental health services. Even though laws were put in place to hire professional counselors in the VA, they are largely not being employed, which leaves the veteran population underserved.

Recently, he has participated in many advocacy projects including being a contributing author in Chi Sigma Iota’s (2012) Professional Counseling Excellence through Leadership and Advocacy. This book explored professional and client advocacy and how they relate to one another and the importance of their relationship. He also teaches the Doctoral Foundations course at the University of Cincinnati, where he explores with his doctoral students the importance of becoming a leader and an advocate for the counseling profession. Also, he participates in other advocacy projects that are related to promoting professional counseling, in addition to focusing on wellness among counselors.

Dr. Brubaker emphasized the urgency in addressing reciprocity from state to state, which is a challenge due to inconsistent licensure laws. Moreover, he remarked how consistent minimum training standards in the counseling profession go hand-in-hand with licensure portability. Specifically, he noted that reciprocity will not be a reality in the counseling profession if there is not consistency in training for professional counselors across the United States. Dr. Brubaker believes there should be high quality standards in training programs, emphasizing the unique strengths of professional counselors.

The American Counseling Association’s Governing Council has worked tirelessly to form a single definition of counseling: “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.” Dr. Brubaker remains hopeful that even greater support for our professional identity is on the horizon. He concluded, “I am proud that our profession has taken this important step in affirming our professional counseling identity.”

 

Originally posted July 12, 2017 at csi-net.org.

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