Counseling Today

Monthly magazine of the American Counseling Association. Resource for ACA's 55,000 members worldwide.

Counseling Today is the American Counseling Association's award-winning magazine. Sent to all ACA members, CT is a monthly resource of news and in-depth features about the world of counseling: effective techniques/strategies, developments in the profession, counselor wellness and counseling resources. Published since 1958. Compiled and designed at ACA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Find out more at

Shifting your self-talk from negative to positive takes work -- but it's not impossible! See our article "Some thoughts on thoughts: The inner critic and self-talk"
"Every time we act out of the truth rather than a lie we’ve been led to believe, that [inner] voice becomes a bit quieter until, eventually, it fades into the background. Sure, it takes practice, but starting down the path to a healthier internal world really can be that simple."

Just say nicer things to yourself. It’ll make life less hard

Image: Doot Doodles

A script for socialization to the cognitive model - Counseling Today

"Copy down those thoughts. Put them on an index card. This will serve as your coping cue to take with you. It will be a reminder that although we may not be able to fix a stressor at hand, we do have the opportunity to access alternative thoughts." Although we may not be able to fix a stressor at hand, we do have the opportunity to access alternative thoughts. It is those alternative thoughts that kickstart the process of reduced distress, healthier behaviors, and the satisfying experience of more desirable results.

Bundle of joy? - Counseling Today

On Mother’s Day, a look at the unique mental health needs and challenges faced by postpartum mothers – and how counselors can help prepare and support clients in this vulnerable time of life. The arrival of a new baby is cause for celebration, but it also comes with night feedings, diaper changes and, often, a host of psychological stressors, from intense feelings of self-doubt to struggles with identity.

One school counselor per 455 students: Nationwide average improves - Counseling Today

America’s average student-to-school counselor ratio is the narrowest it's been in three decades. However, individual state ratios vary widely, ranging from 202-to-1 in Vermont to 905-to-1 in Arizona. Across the U.S., there is an average of one school counselor for every 455 public K-12 students. However, Individual state ratios vary widely, ranging from 202-to-1 in Vermont to 905-to-1 in Arizona.

This Is Why the Biracial Royal Baby Will Make People Like Me Feel Less Alone

In counseling, no two multiracial clients will have the same needs and sensitivities. Did you know that ACA has Competencies for Counseling the Multiracial Population? More info: Baby Archie doesn't yet know the impact he's about to have.

Remembering Martin Buber and the I–Thou in counseling - Counseling Today

Counselors view the client–counselor relationship as the foundation of all therapeutic growth because it is fundamentally affirming of human connection, validation and participation ...Counselors should keep this in mind even as we strive toward greater technical organization and efficiency within a mental health “service delivery system” that is not entirely compatible with our broader aims. In the search for empirically validated methods, are counselor researchers, educators and clinicians in danger of losing touch with what matters most in counseling?

Voice of Experience: Invisible people, Part 2: The incarcerated - Counseling Today

"They are numbers in a system, not names. And they are identified by their crimes by probation officers, future potential employers and others. I would hate to be identified by my mistakes rather than by my character." "They are numbers in a system, not names. And they are identified by their crimes by probation officers, future potential employers and others. I would hate to be identified by my mistakes rather than by my character."

Culturally competent end-of-life counseling - Counseling Today

Helping clients experience peace as the end of life approaches involves understanding and processing the lived experiences and aspects of identity that have shaped them. Helping clients experience peace as the end of life approaches involves understanding and processing the lived experiences and aspects of identity that have shaped them.

Counseling Connoisseur: The Gift of Community for Counselors - An Interview with Thelma Duffey - Counseling Today

Columnist Cheryl Fisher writes on the importance of finding "your people" within the professional community and interviews Thelma Duffey, who founded the Association for Creativity in Counseling in 2004. Take the time to seek out a community that will ignite you and your clinical practice. It will not only inspire you-- it will also benefit your clients.

From the President: Doing our part to promote mental health - Counseling Today

"While focusing on advocacy, we are decreasing stigma associated with mental illness and encouraging people to access treatment."
ACA President Simone Lambert's May column: While prevention services are critical across the life span and in various settings, early identification and treatment of mental health issues can have a life-changing impact on our youth. Counselors can lead the way in mitigating risk factors and fostering resiliency.

CEO's Message: The influence of one — multiplied by 52,000 - Counseling Today

ACA CEO Richard Yep's May column: I believe in the power of numbers #CounselorsHelp "When the counseling profession comes together, many positive results are possible."

Bundle of joy? - Counseling Today

May 1 is World Maternal Mental Health Day.
"Unless a counselor is familiar with a new mother’s world, that mother isn’t going to feel comfortable disclosing feelings that are intense, personal and sometimes scary in therapy sessions."
#maternalMHmatters Find our more + get involved at The arrival of a new baby is cause for celebration, but it also comes with night feedings, diaper changes and, often, a host of psychological stressors, from intense feelings of self-doubt to struggles with identity.

When yelling doesn’t work - Counseling Today

Introduce the topic of child discipline in ways that are nonjudgmental and accepting. Parents are typically more receptive to learning new skills — including skills related to appropriate discipline methods — when counselors establish a relationship in which clients feel accepted. Counselors can come alongside parents to help them adjust their perspectives on the purposes of and approaches to the contentious topic of child discipline.

#FridayFunny #CounselorsHelp 🌳🌿🌴🍃
[Via We Are Wildness]

New maternal mental health certification available to counselors - Counseling Today

Do you work with peripartum clients?
Postpartum Support International now offers a certification for counselors and other helping professionals in perinatal mental health, with a goal of ensuring that more and more practitioners are qualified and available to give parents the help they need in a most critical and vulnerable time of life. Postpartum Support International’s new Certification in Perinatal Mental Health became available in August to counselors, social workers and other mental health practitioners, as well as prescribers (medical doctors, psychiatrists), doulas, midwifes, lactation consultants and other affiliated prof...

Grieving everyday losses - Counseling Today

Life brings numerous types of losses, many of which go unrecognized, unacknowledged and, most importantly, unmourned. The damage caused by these accumulated losses — sometimes referred to in the popular lexicon as “emotional baggage” — often brings clients to counselors’ doors wondering why they’re in so much pain. Counselors help clients recognize that grief is not reserved solely for big life events such as the loss of a partner, child or other family member, but also for ‘ordinary’ and sometimes societally unacknowledged losses.

Behind the Book: Critical Incidents in School Counseling - Counseling Today

Fill in the blank: I wish I had known ________ when I was in my first year as a school counselor.
The co-editors of ACA's new edition of "Critical Incidents in School Counseling" share their thoughts: A school counselor’s graduate degree and academic training serve only as a base for the continuous learning that happens on the job — in classrooms, via interactions with students, via collaboration with colleagues, and through professional development.

SNEAK PEEK: Our May magazine starts hitting mailboxes next week!

The counselor’s role in ensuring school safety - Counseling Today

We hold Littleton, Colorado in our hearts as tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. We talked with school counselor and Columbine survivor Samantha Haviland for this 2016 article on school safety.
"Today’s reality is that school counselors and school administrators need to have well-crafted crisis plans ready to go. But equally as important, Haviland says, is the attention that school personnel should pay to the smaller, day-to-day issues that affect a school’s safety, from racial microaggressions and bullying to dating and relationship violence. School counselors need both preventive and reactive tools in their toolboxes, and 'there’s no magic wand for any of it'."
"... School counselors are the leaders in creating a healthy environment,” Haviland said. The antidote to school violence — in all its forms — is an inclusive and resilient school environment in which counselors play pivotal roles.

After Boeing Crashes, More People Want Help Taming Fear Of Flying

It's estimated that up to 40 percent of the general population experiences flight-related anxiety. Counselors, check out our article "Conquering the fear of flying,", to help clients through this common phobia. #CounselorsHelp If you're scared of flying, the news of two recent airline crashes might have you in jitters. Instructors who help people overcome that fear say enrollments have doubled since the incidents.

@TechCounselor: Retaking ownership of your time - Counseling Today

What strategies and tools do you use to manage your time (professionally and personally)? Some great tips: I don’t know about you, but I want to have greater ownership over my calendar rather than allowing my calendar to have ownership over me.

Interventions for attachment and traumatic stress issues in young children - Counseling Today

"Our focus on prevention, environmental context, development and wellness makes us uniquely trained to assess, intervene with and investigate clinical issues in early childhood." #CounselorsHelp With their emphasis on human development, prevention, ecosystems and wellness, counselors are well-positioned to address the unique service needs of the pediatric population.

Getting comfortable as a counselor with “not knowing” - Counseling Today

#ThursdayThought "Counselors are not alone in wanting to know how it ends, how things have turned out. That is a common response to being invested in a process or with a person. You want to know if she left her abusive husband, or if he worked through the trauma of his childhood, or if she had any further relapses. We want it tied up all nice and tidy, with a happily ever after.
Unfortunately, that is just not going to happen." Counselors wish therapy could be neatly tied up with a “happily ever after,” but in the real world, we don’t typically know how it all turns out for clients.

Five points of discussion for conversations about racial injustice - Counseling Today

"If we remain silent, we may be living life, but are we living it to its fullest? Those with privilege have a responsibility to leverage their unearned advantages to combat injustice and oppression. What does that look like for us personally?" Counselors can tap into their interpersonal skills to facilitate meaningful dialogue that invites others to engage rather than become defensive.

Should we talk about politics? What we are missing in counseling sessions - Counseling Today

"Given that the lives of many refugees are complicated by the political turmoil in their home countries, avoiding political conversation with them in counseling would not seem to be genuine or authentic practice. In fact, allowing them to discuss how they have been affected by those political factors can offer a deeper understanding of their presenting problems." To work with immigrant and refugee populations more effectively, it is important to understand that discussing political issues with these clients can have a positive impact in their lives.

How can we truly help clients in a relationship? - Counseling Today

Couples therapy has been around for years, so it is easy to believe that practitioners know everything they need to know about its underlying principles. But beware: assumptions can lead to an overly narrow perspective, Here are 10 ideas to help you re-examine and reinvigorate your approach to couples therapy. In some cases, counselors may need to tweak their own ways of thinking before offering clients in a relationship alternative ways of relating to each other.

Bundle of joy? - Counseling Today

"Counselors don’t have to be parents themselves to offer empathy and a listening ear to peripartum clients. Becoming familiar with and sensitive to the unique needs of this population can make a major difference to mothers who are struggling." The arrival of a new baby is cause for celebration, but it also comes with night feedings, diaper changes and, often, a host of psychological stressors, from intense feelings of self-doubt to struggles with identity.

Inviting young people to talk about mental health - Counseling Today

“Young people are struggling with not knowing where to go for that help.…Help them find you, what you do, and what resources are available to them," speaker Cynthia Germanotta urged the approximately 4,000 attendees during her keynote talk Friday morning at the American Counseling Association 2019 Conference & Expo in New Orleans. Keynote speaker Cynthia Germanotta tells ACA Conference attendees that today’s youth value mental health but don’t know where to turn for help.

For those attending ACA's Conference & Expo in New Orleans this week: Counseling Today Editor-in-chief Jonathan Rollins will be part of the ACA Council of Editors at a roundtable Q+A on Friday, March 29, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. (program ID #187) Stop by to ask questions and get more information about getting published by CT or ACA! #Counseling2019

Voice of Experience: Invisible people, Part 1: Native Americans - Counseling Today

"It is next to impossible for tribes to perpetuate their traditions, religions, languages and cultural values as a subset of mainstream American culture. So, they are relegated either to abandoning these things or to moving onto a reservation, where life options for themselves and their children are significantly limited. What a bitter choice to make." We pride ourselves on cultural diversity as counselors, but I’m not confident that the blinders we wear allow us to really see how much we don’t see.

We Need To Talk About Men And Miscarriage

Related reading on counseling and fatherhood from Counseling Today (see the sub-section “Grieving miscarriage”): Men need space to talk about miscarriage too.

Establishing a private practice - Counseling Today

How will you market your practice? Who will do the scheduling and billing? File the paperwork? Balance the books? These are just a few of the questions counselors need to consider as they contemplate establishing a private practice. Counselors who dream of the freedom and autonomy they would gain by being their own bosses should also be aware of the many challenges that accompany the rewards.

Congratulations, Dr. Cole!
She gave a warm and charismatic keynote speech last year at ACA's Conference & Expo in Atlanta. See our coverage here:

Each year, the Women Making History Awards recognizes and honors a select group of women who have made a significant contribution to their field and serve as an inspiration to women everywhere. One of our honorees at this year's Awards is Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole has served as president of both Spelman and Bennett colleges, historically black colleges for women in the United States—a distinction she alone holds. She has authored or edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. Dr. Cole was the first African American to serve as the chair of the board of United Way of America, and served for eight years as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. When she retired from the museum on March 31, 2017, Dr. Cole was given the title of Director Emerita. Dr. Cole has received numerous awards, is the recipient of 68 honorary degrees, and has authored or edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. She is now a Principal Consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm located in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Join us in honoring her work in Washington, D.C. next month. Get tickets:

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