Professional Involvement


One recurring question in counseling is: "Why do some counselors thrive and some counselors stay barely alive—at least professionally?” The answer is simple, but not simplistic. It has to do with professional involvement. Basically, professional involvement is for counselors what good food is for health. It is necessary for life, growth, and development. The more you engage in professional development activities in your postgraduate study career as a counselor, the healthier you become, as long as you do not overdo it. Just like in eating, there are choices to make in becoming professionally involved. You simply cannot do everything, just as you cannot eat all the food from a buffet. You do not want to underdo it either, for that would be like starvation and just as devastating, at least professionally. Yet to overdo leads to burnout and distress just like overeating leads to an uncomfortable bloated feeling. Therefore, balance is called for in picking and choosing what to become involved in, when, where, and how. Timing is crucial; the longer you are in the field of counseling, the more comfortable, willing, and able you may be in getting more involved with professional activities outside of "work.”

Professional involvement may be defined many ways. A succinct definition is: "participation in various aspects of a professional organization or group.” Counseling has a number of professional organizations a person can become involved in that strengthen personal and professional identities. Six such options are listed in Table 10.1.

Not only are there numerous counseling groups you can become involved in, there is also a wide variety of professional involvement activities you can






American Counseling Association (ACA)



The national membership association for professional counselors. ACA offers conferences and professional readings and research for practitioners. It has 20 divisions, a number of interest groups, and publishes materials relevant to the practice of counseling.

Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

National and international accreditation body for counseling programs

CACREP is the recognized national and international accreditor of counseling programs. It has standards for masters and doctoral counseling programs.

National Board for Certified Counselors


Certification body for counselors in general as well as in different specialties, such as school, clinical mental health, and addiction

The national and international organization providing certification in a number of counseling specialties as well as general counseling. NBCC administers the National Counseling Exam (NCE), which is required in most states for licensure.

Chi Sigma Iota (CSI)

Counseling honor society international

Chi Sigma Iota is the international honor society for students, professional counselors, and counselor educators.

State counseling association (e.g., North Carolina Counseling Association)

State counseling associations that often have local chapters in different parts of a state

A professional counseling association that is easier to connect with than ACA. State associations hold conferences and publish newsletters and journals that contain relevant information targeted for professional counselors in a specific state.

American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB)

Resource board for state counseling licensure boards

In such groups counselors can obtain specialized information through publications and conferences these groups sponsor.

engage in. Involvement is like a pyramid from the least to the most involved (Figure 10.1). These aspects of involvement include (1) identifying with a specific profession, (2) belonging to a professional membership organization, (3) attending professional conferences, (4) presenting at professional conferences, (5) writing in refereed journals, newsletters, and other professional forums, (6) engaging in advocacy, and (7) taking on leadership roles in professional organizations.

Professional Involvement Pyramid

Figure 10.1 Professional Involvement Pyramid.

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