Questions Raised by Masters Mental Health Counseling Students
1.Why is APA formatting necessary? “I’m not an English Student.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) developed APA formatting to create a standardized format for the social and behavioral sciences. APA format serves multiple functions that improve writing quality and gives credit to authors. The strict formatting in APA provides a structured guideline in how papers should look. Students can then know where certain information will be within any given journal article.
The use of references shows deliberate, critical-thinking, and linking concepts with the professional field. Giving credit to an author through citations and references demonstrates respect and helps to avoid plagiarism in writing. Citations also help other readers find the sources of information in journal articles.
2. After all this work in school, am I employable?
Most students want employment after their Master’s program, but few fully understand the steps involved. A career in mental health counseling or social work is a multi-step endeavor. Once a student completes their Master’s program, there are typically post-graduate hours to get licensed. Why get licensed? Well, being licensed is the legal requirement in all 50 states that provide mental health counseling or social work to clients. Licensed counselors and social workers have met clinical postgraduate hour requirements and supervision hours. There is typically a licensing exam, such as the National Counselor Exam, that is also required before an application can be submitted. Different states have different requirements. Check with your state to ensure you know all the requirements for licensure.
The good news is that some agencies can hire post-graduate interns under an agency-affiliated license. The company covers the student under their professional liability insurance and agency license. Pay, however, may be at a lower level depending on the agency until fully licensed. Agencies want clinicians to be fully licensed so they can bill insurance companies for services. Individuals seeking licensure can hire an outside supervisor for postgraduate supervision hours, and the agency may also require supervision on-site.
Once you have your clinical license, many positions can become available depending on your Master’s program focus area. Mental health counseling in agency-settings, case management (in some states this can be done with a BA), school counseling, and private practice (this is a big leap right out of a Master’s program and can be isolating). Specialty areas such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and sexual offenders (depending on state and agency requirements) may require additional training.
3. What are good associations to join as a student?
A solid organization to start with is the American Counseling Association (ACA). As an active member, ACA members utilize the code of ethics, which are available online with other helpful resources. ACA also has networking opportunities, national conferences, and free CEU opportunities. If you are an ACA member, you can also get a discount on HPSO liability insurance. ACA also holds specialty divisions and local chapters.
ACA Website: https://www.counseling.org/
Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA)
Chartered in 1986, AADA serves as a focal point for information sharing, professional development, and advocacy related to adult development and aging issues; addresses counseling concerns across the lifespan.
Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC)
Originally the Association for Measurement and Evaluation in Guidance, AARC was chartered in 1965. The purpose of AARC is to promote the effective use of assessment in the counseling profession.
Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC)
Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling aims to focus on the training needs of counselors who work with children and adolescents, while also providing professional support to those counselors, whether they are school counselors, play therapists, or counselor educators.
Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC)
The Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC) is a forum for counselors, counselor educators, creative arts therapists and counselors in training to explore unique and diverse approaches to counseling. ACC’s goal is to promote greater awareness, advocacy, and understanding of diverse and creative approaches to counseling.
American College Counseling Association (ACCA)
ACCA is one of the newest divisions of the American Counseling Association. Chartered in 1991, the focus of ACCA is to foster student development in colleges, universities, and community colleges.
Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES)
Originally the National Association of Guidance and Counselor Trainers, ACES was a founding association of ACA in 1952. ACES emphasizes the need for quality education and supervision of counselors for all work settings.
The Association for Humanistic Counseling (AHC)
AHC, formerly C-AHEAD, a founding association of ACA in 1952, provides a forum for the exchange of information about humanistically-oriented counseling practices and promotes changes that reflect the growing body of knowledge about humanistic principles applied to human development and potential.
Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC)
Educates counselors to the unique needs of client identity development; and a non-threatening counseling environment by aiding in the reduction of stereotypical thinking and homoprejudice.
Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD)
Originally the Association of Non-White Concerns in Personnel and Guidance, AMCD was chartered in 1972. AMCD strives to improve cultural, ethnic and racial empathy and understanding by programs to advance and sustain personal growth.
American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
Chartered in 1978, AMHCA represents mental health counselors, advocating for client-access to quality services within the health care industry.
American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA)
ARCA is an organization of rehabilitation counseling practitioners, educators, and students who are concerned with enhancing the development of people with disabilities throughout their life span and in promoting excellence in the rehabilitation counseling profession’s practice, research, consultation, and professional development.
American School Counselor Association (ASCA)
Chartered in 1953, ASCA promotes school counseling professionals and interest in activities that affect the personal, educational, and career development of students. ASCA members also work with parents, educators, and community members to provide a positive learning environment.
Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC)
Originally the National Catholic Guidance Conference, ASERVIC was chartered in 1974. ASERVIC is devoted to professionals who believe that spiritual, ethical, religious, and other human values are essential to the full development of the person and to the discipline of counseling.
Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW)
Chartered in 1973, ASGW provides professional leadership in the field of group work, establishes standards for professional training, and supports research and the dissemination of knowledge.
Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ)
CSJ is a community of counselors, counselor educators, graduate students, and school and community leaders who seek equity and an end to oppression and injustice affecting clients, students, counselors, families, communities, schools, workplaces, governments, and other social and institutional systems.
International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC)
Originally the Public Offender Counselor Association, IAAOC was chartered in 1972. Members of IAAOC advocate the development of effective counseling and rehabilitation programs for people with substance abuse problems, other addictions, and adult and/or juvenile public offenders.
International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC)
Chartered in 1989, IAMFC members help develop healthy family systems through prevention, education, and therapy.
Military and Government Counseling Association (MGCA) formerly ACEG
Originally the Military Educators and Counselors Association, MGCA was chartered in 1984. MGCA is dedicated to counseling clients and their families in local, state, and federal government or in military-related agencies.
National Career Development Association (NCDA)
Originally the National Vocational Guidance Association, NCDA was one of the founding associations of ACA in 1952. NCDA provides professional development, connection, publications, standards, and advocacy to career development professionals who inspire and empower individuals to achieve their career and life goals.
National Employment Counseling Association (NECA)
NECA was originally the National Employment Counselors Association and was chartered in 1966. The commitment of NECA is to offer professional leadership to people who counsel in employment and/or career development settings.