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Benefits of Joining Professional Organizations for Counselors

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Counselors are valuable professionals and serve as important resources for communities, whether working in schools, community centers or private practices. This lesson will discuss the benefits of joining a professional organization for counselors.

The Counseling Profession

Counselors work in many fields. Mental health counselors help people deal with emotional or behavioral problems. Career counselors help people figure out what do for a living and may even help clients find a job. Addiction counselors help individuals overcome drug and alcohol dependence. School counselors work with students and deal with things like learning disabilities, family issues, and social struggles.

Joining a Professional Organization

No matter their specialization, a majority of counselors choose to join a professional organization, which may include the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association or the American Mental Health Counselors Association, among others. These organizations vary widely in terms of membership fees, and each organization may offer different rates based on career level.

Membership Benefits

Counselors who become members of a professional organization are generally eligible for many benefits. Some of these include the following:

Advocacy

Professional organizations work to support the needs of professional counselors. This supportive role is called advocacy. As advocates, the professional organization may promote the counseling field or lobby for better working conditions or higher pay for counselors. Advocacy means that members of the organizations have someone looking out for them and the industry as a whole.

Professional Development

Professional organizations frequently offer unique educational opportunities for their members. For example, there might be a special certification program offered to members of the organization to prepare them to work in a certain environment or with a particular population. Professional development ensures that counselors are always learning and improving. These opportunities for ongoing education help counselors improve skills, which may lead to increased opportunities for employment.

Publications

Nearly every specialization within the counseling field has a related journal. These publications serve as very valuable resources to counselors because they provide news on the latest research, techniques, training, and employment opportunities. Most professional organizations provide related publications as a benefit of membership.

Peer Networking

Perhaps one of the most useful aspects of membership in a professional organization for counselors is the access to countless other professionals in the field. Most professional organizations publish a directory of members. In short, the organization creates a network of like-minded professionals who share information and support one another. These opportunities for peer networking create a system of accountability. In other words, all members are held to a certain standard of professional conduct and work to support one another in that goal.

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