Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

United We Stand: Narrative Study to Aid the Counseling Profession in Developing a Coherent Identity

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

United We Stand: Narrative Study to Aid the Counseling Profession in Developing a Coherent Identity

Article excerpt

United We Stand: Lessons Learned from Other Professions

For over half a century, the counseling profession has been struggling with the solidification of professional identity and licensure portability for practitioners (Bergman, 2013; Bobby, 2013; Gibson, Dollarhide, & Moss, 2010; Lawson, 2016). The American Counseling Association (ACA) began in 1949 (as the American Personnel and Guidance Association, [APGA]) with a proposal for a study that called for "one national voice" and was based on the belief that one unified force would help the counseling profession gain recognition and legislative power (Simmons, 2003). At that time, there were four counseling groups with different guidance foci: (1) vocational, (2) college personnel, (3) supervisors, trainers, student personnel, and (4) teacher education, which by 2017 has expanded to twenty divisions (ACA, n.d.). The increase of number of divisions may have assisted with gaining recognition; however, it may give the impression that the counseling profession is moving toward division (Remly & Herlihy, 2014). nresolved issues other than presenting as one profession such as professional affiliation, credentialing, and training have been discussed in counseling literature (Gale & Austin, 2003). In 2005, the ACA and the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB) co-sponsored the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling initiative with the aim of moving the profession forward, resulting in finding consensus in critical issues that need strategic attention by the counseling profession (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). The 20/20 summit was made up of 31 counseling related organizations (Kraus, n.d.) and the delegates developed the Principles for

Unifying and Strengthening the Profession, comprised of seven central principles and issues in the counseling profession (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). The strategic areas identified were (1) strengthening identity, (2) presenting ourselves as one profession, (3) improving public perception and advocacy, (4) creating licensure portability, (5) expanding and promoting research, (6) focusing on students and prospective students, and (7) promoting client welfare and advocacy. The organizations which comprised the 20/20 initiative worked together until 2013 to produce the Consensus Definition of Counseling (Kaplan, Tarvydus, & Gladding, 2014), the Building Blocks to Portability Project (Kraus, n.d.) and the Passing the 20/20 Torch (ACA, n.d.), the latter of which is a list of future strategies intended to operationalize specific ways in which future initiatives within the counseling profession might engage in these principles.

Some of the issues on which the 20/20 committee reached a consensus are on title, scope of practice, and a definition of counseling (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). A recommendation was made by the 20/20 committee to all the state licensing boards to promote a licensure title, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), scope of practice, and the consensus definition of counseling. This was a step forward for licensure portability. However, there are still "multiple variations in state licensing titles and regulations [which] were hampering efforts to develop and implement the AASCB licensure portability plan" (Rollins, 2006, p. 26). The variations are due to multiple factors including differences in state oversite processes, variation in education requirements, and differences in opinion within with counseling profession (Mascari & Weber, 2013). The counseling profession remains divided on educational programs, specialization areas, and accreditation, all of which contribute significantly to intra-state licensure portability.

Since Passing the 20/20 Torch, there is evidence within counseling literature that a wide range of professional counseling identities still exist even within counseling leadership (Woo, Storlie, & Baltrinic, 2016). The presence of many differing counselor identities casts doubt that the counseling profession been able to strengthen identity or present to the public as one united profession. …

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