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The Importance of Self-Care, Advocacy, and Inclusion for Counseling Professionals

Explore how mental health practitioners are working toward a brighter future.

Day in and day out, counselors across the globe work diligently to help ensure a brighter future for others. But these efforts aren’t just limited to therapy sessions with clients. Rather, mental health practitioners are focused on the shared avenues that can lead to improved outcomes for clients, counselors, and the counseling profession itself. And according to the American Counseling Association (ACA), self-care, advocacy, and inclusion are three such avenues to a better tomorrow.1

Self-Care

“Self-care is never a selfish act.” It’s an adage repeated during therapy, shared across social media platforms, and given as words of reassurance by friends and family during stressful times. That’s because self-care is a healthy practice for us all. And though the outcomes may be similar—a stronger sense of self, more patience, deeper gratitude—self-care looks different for everyone. For some, an act of self-care might be a morning meditation or yoga practice. For others, it may be reading for pleasure or going for a walk in nature. Sometimes, self-care can be as simple as making your bed in the morning. What matters most is that the action is intentional and done to nourish your physical, mental, and/or emotional well-being.

Licensed professional counselors emphasize the importance of practicing self-care to their clients because it enables them to assess their own needs, manage stress better, and employ healthy coping mechanisms. For these same reasons, it’s equally as important for counselors to practice self-care as well. In fact, the ACA’s Code of Ethics requires that all clinicians monitor their own well-being while treating clients in order to provide high-quality care and mitigate the risk of experiencing compassion fatigue or career burnout.2 Ultimately, for people to be at their best—no matter their role—they must first prioritize self-care.

Advocacy

Counseling continues to evolve, as does the range of issues that need to be advocated for to ensure that the profession stays on a positive trajectory. These issues center on topics such as veteran affairs, insurance reimbursement, accessibility, and school counseling funding. Without advocacy, there can be no action. Without action, there can be no progress. And with the prevalence of mental illness on the rise, it’s more important than ever that individuals—both practitioners and non-practitioners—fight for much-needed changes to counseling and mental health policies.3 In order to further these efforts and improve the future of counseling, the ACA developed a Government Affairs and Public Policy team to advocate on behalf of its members and the profession at large.4

Inclusion

According to the ACA’s Strategic Framework 2018–2021, “Building a diverse, inclusive, and engaged pipeline of counselors who will serve well into the 21st century” is a core initiative and driver of the organization.5 And for clinicians to address the diverse needs of clients and provide high-quality care, inclusion is key. From engaging in multicultural training sessions to professional development opportunities centered on LGBTQ+ and identity issues, licensed professional counselors who are committed to expanding their knowledge and scope of practice will be primed to meet the future head-on. For clients and mental health professionals alike, an inclusive space is a safe space—and one that is vital to the effectiveness of counseling now and in the future.

Prepare for a Successful Career in Counseling at Walden University

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others by becoming a licensed professional counselor, Walden can give you the support you need to move toward that goal. Enroll in one of Walden’s CACREP-accredited counseling degree programs—such as the MS in School Counseling or MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling—and gain the confidence, qualifications, and skills you need to help clients overcome their greatest challenges. And thanks to online learning, you can pursue your counseling degree while you continue to work full time. That means you can take classes at whatever time of days works for you and better maintain a work-life balance. Earn your degree in counseling online at Walden and start building the career of your dreams.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a suite of counseling degree programs online, including an MS in School Counseling and MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Source: www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/counselingawarenessmonth
2Source: www.counseling.org/Resources/aca-code-of-ethics.pdf
3Source: www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america
4Source: www.counseling.org/government-affairs/public-policy
5Source: www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/aca-strategic-plan/aca-strategic-framework_wfinal80dc32f16116603abcacff0000bee5e7.pdf?sfvrsn=e7ca522c_2

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Walden University’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a requirement for licensure in many states. The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to prepare graduates to qualify to sit for licensing exams and to meet the academic licensure requirements of many state counseling boards. Because no graduate program can guarantee licensure upon graduation, we encourage students to consult the appropriate agency to determine specific requirements. For more information about licensure, students should visit the National Board for Certified Counselors at www.nbcc.org/search/stateboarddirectory and/or the American Association of State Counseling Boards at www.aascb.org, and contact the appropriate licensing body. International students are encouraged to identify and contact their appropriate licensing body. Learn more about professional licensure.

MS in School Counseling: The MS in School Counseling program meets the standards for school counseling licensure or certification and is a state-approved program in Minnesota and Ohio. The MS in School Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which may also be a requirement to become licensed or certified as a school counselor in some states. In addition, some states require school counselors to have an existing teaching license or certification, and teaching experience, in order to be eligible for a school counseling certification/license. Learn more about professional licensure.

Further, many states require school counseling programs to be approved in at least one state, either their own or another state. The MS in School Counseling program is approved by the states of Minnesota and Ohio, and while this approval is accepted by the majority of states that require state approval, it may not be accepted by all states.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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