Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST
You are passionate about mental health. You entered into this profession because you wanted to help others. Now that you have found your calling consider how much more you could do for the clients you serve as an everyday advocate. Here are five tips that you can take today to advocate for counseling.
There are countless myths about counseling that keep many individuals from taking their first steps to start the process of self-growth. You can be a myth buster by taking any opportunity you get to correct misconceptions about the counseling process. For example, you hear someone say that they don’t want to see a counselor because they are afraid it won’t stay confidential. This is a great opportunity to tell them that counselors protect their client’s privacy through confidentially and HIPPA laws.
Advocacy takes many forms and social media is a powerful tool for it. The ability to have information spread worldwide makes social media a game changer for advocacy. When you see a great post about counseling, mental health, or educating the public on this topic, share it through your social media platforms. You position yourself as an advocate and you help people better understand the topic.
There is a stigma in society about mental illness which leads people not to share their struggles. A great way to be an advocate is to speak up when you hear derogatory or negative talk about mental health. For example, if someone refers to a group of people stating that they all have a mental disorder or are crazy, take the opportunity to speak up about how hurtful this can be. Don’t feel as if you have to shout it from the rooftop, but you can speak up with a positive voice that has the potential to make a big difference for those around you.
You are not alone in your advocacy efforts for counselors. There are many people just like you who want to see needed changes for the public with counseling and mental illness. Explore your opportunities to join a local, state, and/or national organization that advocates for counseling. Check with your state associations and licensing boards to see how you can get involved. There is power in numbers and no voice is too small.
One of the easiest ways to advocate is to volunteer to give a free workshop, speak, or write a blog post about the importance of counselors and counseling. Look for possible community organizations, libraries, and civic centers that would be open to you speaking or present a workshop. Many of these groups have monthly meetings and would welcome you to give a presentation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them, present a topic, and ask them if you can assist them. You can also volunteer to write a blog post about counseling myths, benefits, and the positive changes it can bring. This is a great way to spread the word about the many benefits of counseling.
There are many other ways you can advocate daily for the counseling profession. You are a unique and incredible professional who has much to give the community. Don’t be afraid to speak up and use your voice. The more you advocate, the easier it gets. As a bonus, your passion for counseling and mental health will also inspire others.