Most Counselors benefit from membership in a professional organization, and there are several Professional Associations for Counselors. These groups provide many benefits to their memberships and some even accredit counselor education programs in colleges and universities. Which association is the most popular? That depends upon your goal in affiliating with them.
What are the Benefits of Belonging to a Professional Association?
First, some of these associations offer credentialing services. In addition, many provide opportunities for their members to earn continuing education credits. Some carry group insurance for professional practitioners. The groups advocate before law-makers and keep their members abreast of current counseling issues through magazines and other communications. Through their membership requirements, they act as a quality assurance check for counselors.
What Are Popular Associations for Counselors?
The American Counseling Association is the largest of the associations. This is partly because the organization is open to all counselors. Besides psychological therapists, they serve educational and occupational counselors as well as rehabilitation and employment counselors. Within the association there are several divisions that address the needs of the specialties within the counseling profession. According to the American Counseling Association website, the organization includes the following professional associations:
â¢ Association for Adult Development and Aging
â¢ Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling
â¢ Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling
â¢ Association for Creativity in Counseling —this is a forum which brings professionals together to discuss innovative approaches to unique problems
â¢ American College Counseling Association
â¢ Association for Counselors and Educators in Government
â¢ Association for Counselor Education and Supervision
â¢ Association for Humanistic Counseling
â¢ Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling
â¢ Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development
â¢ American Mental Health Counselors Association
â¢ American Rehabilitation Counseling Association
â¢ Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling
â¢ Association for Specialists in Group Work
â¢ Counselors for Social Justice
â¢ International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors
â¢ International Association of Family and Marital Counselors
â¢ National Career Development Association
â¢ National Employment Counseling Association
There are other organizations that address specific kinds of counseling. The American Association of Christian Counselors, for example, serves Christian counselors. Although the membership includes psychiatrists and psychologists, it also has untrained lay people in its ranks. This professional organization is less focused on professional credentials and lobbying than on education of its members. Its CEU classes are recognized by the American Counseling Association and can apply to credential retention for licensed professionals.
Why Belong to a Professional Counseling Association?
Besides the availability of continuing education training and the affiliation with other counseling professionals, the larger associations negotiate benefits for their membership such as group malpractice and other insurance, investment programs, discounted lab services and discount hotel and rental car rates. In addition, the forums and conferences allow members to network within their profession. The educational opportunities and certifications offered help in professional development.
Consumers who see a professional association membership emblem at their counselors' offices view the practitioner on a higher level because the organizations have standards and that elevates the professional's credentials. It is akin to a business having a good rating with the Better Business Bureau. There are many smaller associations for counselors, and some larger organizations who welcome counselors in their ranks along with researchers and teachers; however, the American Counseling Association is the largest and most popular of the Professional Associations for Counselors.