Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Membership in Professional Counseling Organizations, Associations, and Societies: Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in professional counseling associations during and after their graduate studies. The flagship organization for CMHC students is the American Counseling Association (ACA). Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, the American Counseling Association promotes public confidence and trust in the counseling profession so that professionals can further assist their clients and students in dealing with the challenges life presents. The American Counseling Association services professional counselors in the U.S. and in 50 other countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. In addition, the American Counseling Association is associated with a comprehensive network of 20 divisions and 56 branches in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. The American Counseling Association also collaborates with several corporate and related organizations to enhance member services. Contact information for ACA is as follows:

Several different membership options exist for counselors at all levels of training and experience. These levels include the following (see ACA website’s membership section for more information):

  • Student Membership: This membership option is available to counseling graduate students who are currently enrolled at least half-time in a college or university Counselor Education training program (such as the CMHC Master’s Degree Program at SE). Student membership is offered at a significantly reduced rate in comparison to professional membership dues.
  • New Professional: This membership option is available to individuals who have graduated with a master’s or a doctoral degree in professional counseling within the past 12 months. New professional status is good for one year and dues are equivalent to that of student membership. This step is offered to help members with the many financial obligations they hold as they transition from counseling student to post-graduate LPC Candidacy.
  • Regular Membership: This level of membership is for individuals whose interests and activities are consistent with those of ACA but who are not qualified for Professional Membership. This option does not apply to graduates of the CMHC Master’s Degree Program. Regular membership dues are equivalent to those of a professional member.
  • Professional Membership: This membership level is for individuals who hold a master’s degree or higher in counseling or a closely related field from a college or university accredited by the Council for Higher Education (such as the CMHC Master’s Degree Program at SE). Proof of academic credentials may be requested. Dues for professional membership are higher than those for students and new professionals. It is, however, extremely important for our graduates/ alumni to attain and maintain professional membership in ACA in order to support this crucial organization for our field. Please take the time to visit the ACA website ( to see the many activities in which ACA is involved for the advancement of the field of professional counseling. These activities would not be possible without members from across the nation offering their support.

As graduate students, there are several benefits to joining professional associations, such as the ACA, as student members. As stated on the ACA website, student members have a strong voice in the American Counseling Association. And, that voice is growing every day as ACA seeks student input on products and services that will be in demand by these future professionals.

Today’s students will be tomorrow’s volunteer leaders of ACA. From a seat on the Governing Council to active roles on various committees, there are multiple ways for the needs and views of students to be heard. Below is a brief overview of some of the ways that student members may get involved with ACA.

  • ACA Governing Council: A Student Representative sits on the ACA Governing Council, which meets several times each year. The Council actively engages and invites the Student Representative to participate in all governance, membership, and policy issues.
  • Annual National Conference: Students can register for the annual ACA conference at a reduced student registration rate. Graduate students may gather at ACA conferences at a special Graduate Student Lounge, which represents a gathering place for students to network with peers from around the country and meet distinguished counselor educators, scholars, and authors.
  • Divisions: Many divisions hold Graduate Student functions at the annual ACA conference. These functions range from meetings to employment networking receptions and mentor/mentee gatherings (see below for more information regarding ACA divisions and branches).
  • The ACA Foundation: Through the ACA Foundation, ACA student members can enter the Graduate Student Essay Contest, apply for the Glen E. Hubele National Graduate Student Award, and apply for Graduate Student Grants (scholarships to attend the annual ACA conference). The ACA Foundation emphasizes supporting ACA student members while they are enrolled in graduate counseling programs.
  • Counseling Today: In-depth articles of interest to students appear in a special feature of this monthly publication entitled, “Student Focus.” This section appears in each issue of the monthly member newspaper Counseling Today. The articles are written by students, offering another valuable publishing opportunity and perspective.
  • Journal of Counseling and Development (JCD): Membership at all above described levels includes a digital subscription to JCD (print copies are available at an additional cost of $35). This important peer-reviewed publication is the flagship journal for the field of professional counseling. More information regarding JCD is available in the section below entitled, “Tips for Being Successful in Graduate School.”

Student Liability Insurance: ACA endorses only one liability insurance carrier for ACA student members: The Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO). ACA Student membership now includes liability insurance for ACA student members enrolled and engaged in a master’s degree counseling curriculum at a post-secondary institution at no additional charge. Coverage is solely offered while performing counseling services (e.g. practicum and internship) related to the master’s degree counseling curriculum.

Job Bank and Year-Round Career Support: At the annual ACA conference, in the Counseling Today, and year-round through the Career Center on the ACA website (, ACA provides a wide range of career support services to student members.

  • Free Ethics Consultation: This service is available to students needing an independent ethics opinion (via telephone, email, or postal mail). This service is offered to individuals in all ACA membership categories. The service is available five days a week, with a 72-hour response time by a licensed counselor.
  • Other Resources are Available on the “Members Only” Section of the ACA Website: Examples of such resources include subscription to ACA eNews, downloadable counseling podcasts, access to a variety of Weblogs, access to a variety of listservs (e.g., COUNSGRADS, a listserv devoted to the needs of counseling graduate students), media resources (e.g., guides to advocacy, mental health training resources, etc.), and digital access to issues of Counseling Today and JCD. Additional resources are also available.