Professional counsellor advocacy is the act of promoting the profession with an emphasis on the removal or minimisation of barriers that are harming or limiting counsellors’ abilities to provide services. At CPCA, our existence is dedicated to advocating for and on behalf of counsellors in addition to their clients. We look to promote and raise awareness for the counselling profession and provide support to our members to help them in their advancement as counsellors by offering career opportunities, certified courses for personal development, up to date resources and more.
Why is it important?
Remember that the career of a counsellor heavily depends on public perceptions of them as capable educators, providers, researchers, and helpers to their clients. Advocacy is meant to educate people, including legislators and policy makers, of this and protect the counselling scope of practice. Concerns such as accurate representation, parity, public recognition, and employment opportunities need to be of high importance so that counsellors can practice their craft effectively.
Counsellors advocate for their clients but often not enough for themselves and their own profession. Some find self-advocacy to be uncomfortable or offensive to their moral sense. Counsellors are who they are because they want to advocate for clients and like the idea of working towards change for the sake of others. Doing the same for themselves can seem distasteful and un-magnanimous. However, it needs to be remembered that advocating for yourself is ultimately mutually beneficial for you and for clients. If the counselling profession suffers then the people who need counselling will of course suffer.
What you can do
Advocacy actions can range from large group organised efforts to change policies, to helping individual students or beginning counsellors through supervision and mentorship. No action is too small if it is something tangible. One of the best things you can do on any scale is to impress upon others the significance of your work and the effect counselling has on the community. This can only influence the profession positively. You can look to get involved in advocacy groups and identify who has influence and power in your area and social circles and make sure they are aware of the value counselling brings. Any policymakers, representatives of local communities, and members of your social networks that understand the importance of counselling and mental health can make a big difference for you and the people that need your services.