Social Justice: A National Imperative for Counselor Education and Supervision Social Justice: A National Imperative for Counselor Education and Supervision

Article excerpt

In this introduction to the special issue of the Counselor Education and Supervision journal, the guest editors provide a brief history of the social justice movement within the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and discuss the importance of addressing social justice issues in counselor education and supervision. The authors challenge all counselors to make social justice an integral part of their work.


Social justice is a growing force within the counseling profession largely because of the leadership within the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES). The organization's unequivocal support for social justice is reflected in but not limited to the following examples: (a) the formation of the ACES Human Rights and Social Justice Committee in 2006; (b) its endorsement of the ACA (American Counseling Association) Advocacy Competencies developed by Lewis, Arnold, House, and Toporek (2002) in 2007; (c) sponsorship of the ACES Social Justice Summit in 2007 and 2009; and (d) the election of social-justice-oriented counseling scholars (e.g., Judi Durham [2007-2008], Harriet Glosoff [2008-2009], Tom Scofield [2009-2010], and Deryl Bailey [2010-2011]) as ACES presidents. These recent events have been significant because they have brought a sense of legitimacy to the social justice counseling movement. In turn, they have led to the institutionalization of social justice in the counseling profession.

The influence of ACES on the social justice movement has transformed the field in real and meaningful ways for clients and their communities. More specifically, the support for social justice by ACES has led to a seismic shift in how emerging counselors are prepared for the field. It is now commonplace for counselor education and supervision programs to introduce advocacy to graduate counseling students. In addition to learning about microskills, counseling students are realizing that advocacy is sometimes necessary when working with clients and communities. Students now graduate from counseling programs realizing more and more that counseling and social justice are vitally linked (Lewis, Toporek, & Ratts, 2010, p. 240). You cannot separate counseling from social justice; both are necessary for helping clients achieve long-term optimal psychological health and well-being.

ACES must continue to be at the forefront of the social justice counseling movement if social justice is to remain a sustainable force in the counseling profession. Being the vanguard for social justice is particularly important given the significant influence members of ACES have on counselor preparation and training. As leaders within the profession, members of ACES play a large role in shaping how counseling is practiced and the means by which change occurs. To assist counselor educators and supervisors in their efforts to make social justice a platform in the profession, we are proud to serve as guest editors of this special issue of Counselor Education and Supervision (CES) on social justice. It is our hope that this special issue on social justice will serve as a vehicle to further the dialogue on the place social justice has in counselor education and supervision.

Importance of Social Justice in Counselor Education and Supervision

The field of counseling has gone through transformations from psychoanalytic, to behavioral, to humanistic, to multicultural, and is now in the midst of a fifth transformation (Ratts, 2009). This transformation is arising in response to a burgeoning movement within the profession to promote social justice as a fundamental principle for incorporating counseling and development strategies into practice (Toporek, Gerstein, Fouad, Roysircar, & Israel, 2006). As a force in counseling, social justice invites counselors to acknowledge issues of differential privilege, unearned status and power, and intentional and unintentional oppression and how these intersect with psychological stress and disorders (Crethar, Torres Rivera, & Nash, 2008; Ratts, D'Andrea, & Arredondo, 2004). …