Professional counselors possess an advocacy role to both the clients and their seniors. The essentiality of the matter is however not a priority for the future of counselors and counseling due to the emphasis of credentials and licensure that impacts on the general reputation of counseling professionals. It is important to integrate intra-professional and extra professional abilities to obtain the active participation of all counselors in the proposed advocacy activities (Erfort, 2014). The professional counselors are agents of social change despite public policies that affect their focus in advocacy activities.
The advocacy role
Advocating on behalf of the profession is an important role for professional counselors because they plead the cause of others by intervening with systems and organizations and for families and individuals who pose as clients. The interventions help advance the counselors’ profession as their role as agents of social change. The two advocacies include one for clients and other one for the professional field. Both are intertwined and complementary (Feldwisch & Whiston, 2016).
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Advocacy starts from an earlier stage when the students learn the significance of self-advocacy skills through pioneer relations, to meeting the moral needs of counseling. Additionally, the relay of advocacy goals to the community, agency, private practices and schools improves the legitimate nature of the counseling professionals. The reimbursement in most professions increases the role of the agents of social change through vocational training.
Public policy is the invisible principles that govern social laws in a community. Factors such as credentialing and licensure laws change the public acceptance as a symbol of social change and activism (McMahon et al., 2014). Due to the emphasis on credibility based on the need for approval, licensure laws outline the qualifications of independent practitioners through achieving accreditation statuses after finishing a graduate program. A mental health counselor, for example, has to display proof of specialized accreditation and federal certification as a requirement to practice and build trust with his or her clients.
The government regulates the standards of excellence in the counseling profession such as mental health counseling through licensure, which is sanctioned credentialing. This initiative also aims to protect the obligations and rights to protect the health, welfare, and safety of its citizens. A practicing mental health counselor makes the public aware of his certification to increase credibility from his or her patient. The sanctioning government entities include the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (National Board of Certified Counselors, 2016).
The accrediting bodies include the Council of Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These bodies review specialized or professional counselors (National Board of Certified Counselors, 2016). Such initiatives are voluntary, and the university programs undergo evaluation from either CORE or CACREP. The public trusts prepare standards for accredited individuals; therefore, they pay much emphasis on evaluating accreditation rather than the social responsibility of the professional counselor.
Clinical health mental health counselors should base their advocacy roles on the need to address clients’ mental health issues through social activism. One identifies the need for advocacy when there is a gap between professionalism and social change. A mental health counselor should give equal emphasis.
A clinical mental health counselor advocates for the counseling profession as well as the clients’ lives. The role of social change includes advancing the counseling profession and intervening as individuals in the society, to improve lives. Advocacy also means an interaction and outreach to organizations that can work together to boost individual goals of community involvement. The focus should shift from an emphasis on meeting the licensure and credentialing laws and focus on the passion of protecting the health and welfare of others. Public policy changes when the mental health counselor shows passion to influence the lives of everyone in a positive manner.
Erford, B. T. (2014). Orientation to the counseling profession: Advocacy, Ethics, and Essential Professional Foundations (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Inc .
Feldwisch, R. P., & Whiston, S. C. (2016). Examining School Counselors' Commitments to Social Justice Advocacy. Professional School Counseling ,19(1), 166-175.
McMahon, H. G., Mason, E., Daluga‐Guenther, N., & Ruiz, A. (2014). An ecological model of professional school counseling. Journal of Counseling & Development , 92(4), 459-471.
National Board of Certified Counselors (2016, April). The military health systems and professional counselors. Retrieved from http://www.nbcc.org/Advocacy/MilitaryHealth
Position Statement and Advocacy Recommendations
The credentialing requirements transform the perception of the counseling profession as an undesirable practice that aims to meet the public acceptance. This shift has characterized the least involvement in social engagements of counselors, thereby, ripping them off their advocacy roles. As a clinical health mental counselor, an individual should advocate for the minimization of the accredited requirements from the sanctioning bodies so as to expand the number of people permitted to provide mental health care to patients.
As an agent of social change, a mental health counselor should put equal emphasis on the profession as well as the social involvement. Liaising with agencies such as the government, CACREP, CORE and the Council for Higher Accreditation, one person can increase the accessibility of mental healthcare and make it affordable to the community.
Augmentation of the counselor credentialing
In the past, mental health counselors were concerned with the welfare of their patients as well as the society. They were advocates in pleading causes that protected the health rights of the community (Erford, 2014). The non-existence of a regulation body, however, led to the mental health risks to the public, therefore, making credentialing a priority to establish a standards requirement. In the modern day, in a bid to gain public acceptance, the paradigm has shifted to striving to achieve licensure, accreditation and government approval instead of focusing on social change (Mc Mahon et al., 2014). Accrediatation has minimized the number of affordable mental health professionals who pay attention to the community’s needs.
Arguable Viewpoints: The first point of view is that augmenting the counselor credentialing will increase the percentage of people that access mental health care.
The second viewpoint is that the augmentation will expose the people to poor services due to the lowering of educational and vocational clinical requirements.
Viewpoint: Credentialing should be augmented to improve the mental health of more people.
Supporting Reasons: As a mental health counselor, a person has an advocacy role to protect the welfare of the clients as well as the community. Augmentation of the credentialing counselors is a multiagency initiative that allows the professional to propose the idea by requiring the expansion of the governing bodies so that there is compatibility and resource management of the increased workload. This step will reduce the risk of producing substandard practitioners at the disposal of the public.
Call to Action and Advocacy Recommendations: Counselors can dedicate their finances and resources to achieve the educational and vocational requirements for the permitted practice. The trick is to identify a goal or passion for the pursuance of such a career. The mental health professional aims to provide the most affordable mental health care to people that cannot afford health care. Through the sanctioned bodies, the advocate gives a proposal on social issues such as unemployment.
Through the right channel such as the government, CACREP, CORE and the CHA, a mental health professional can establish a mentor program that increases the interest of the unemployed youth in the counseling profession. The multiagency collaboration makes it easier to source for funds from other high ranking professionals who also offer mentorship for impoverished youth. Such initiatives improve community participations and improve the public perception of the profession thereby increasing the need for augmentation of credentialing due to increased public demand. The public policy, therefore, influences the government’s pressure to increase the number of professionals.