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Advocacy Interview: Stephen Lenz
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Advocacy Hero: Dr. Stephen Lenz

Interviewed by Kelly Gentry, CSI Leadership Fellow and CSI Leadership & Professional Advocacy Committee Member, Chi Sigma Mu Chapter, Montclair State University

Dr. Stephen LenzDr. Stephen Lenz is an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the President of the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC). He has worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) across various settings, and it is clear that his clinical experience and dedication to evidence based practice have influenced his decision to be a committed and inspiring advocate for the counseling profession.

As a doctoral student in Texas, Dr. Lenz experienced being an advocate for the first time. He found that the Texas Counseling Association does a great job of inviting professionals, students, and educators to legislative action days and preparing them to be advocates at the state level. At the time he was not only representing the counseling department at his school, he was also a professional counselor at a mental health agency. Therefore, he felt he had an understanding of the important issues from multiple perspectives. Advocacy work soon became large part of who he is and what he does.

Dr. Lenz believes that it is important for us to be proactive about our profession. Advocacy really helps us to form a boundary for our profession legally. He noted that our work can overlap with work in other professions, but continuing to define our profession will keep us energized. He also discussed the importance of advocacy work as meaningful engagement and a method of self-care. Counseling work can be tough, but being meaningfully engaged reminds us why we do this challenging work and gives us a different perspective of our profession.

Currently, Dr. Lenz is engaged in several important advocacy efforts, particularly for the state of Texas, where he is currently the Chair of the Texas Counseling Association Research Committee. Using his expertise in meta-analysis and evidence based practice, he is helping Texas School Counselors protect their counseling identity. Narrative interviews with state school counselors, and a meta-analysis of research published about the effectiveness of school counseling in Texas, will be presented at the Texas Spring legislative session, in hopes of keeping the identity of the school counselor intact. When reflecting on this particular project, he pointed out how it was an example of how research can greatly impact advocacy. On a larger scale, as the president of AARC, he spends time advocating for fair testing practices across the country.

When asked about which advocacy effort makes him the most proud, Dr. Lenz said that mentoring future advocates is the most fulfilling and effective work. Taking students or colleagues who have never advocated before and supporting them in their efforts is rewarding and essential in promoting our profession. He also made sure to mention that there is no scarcity of issues to advocate for and that not all efforts involve knocking on a Senator’s door. When asked to describe his work he said, “I try to be the type of person who is not just discontented with certain aspects of the professional landscape, but who is also part of the solution. Intentional advocacy activities are one way to do that.”

Originally posted May 31, 2017 at csi-net.org.

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