VACC MISSION


Per VACC Bylaws, the mission of the Virginia Association of Clinical Counselors is as follows:


A)     To promote the counseling profession and the practice of clinical counseling.

B)      To exchange information pertinent to clinical counseling concerns with members and other appropriate persons through newsletters, regional groups, educational programs, and other mediums of communication.

C)      To provide the public with information regarding the role and function of the clinical counselor.

D)     To promote professional development activities for clinical counselors to expand or renew skills and help satisfy various requirements for re-certification.  To advocate for high standards of professional preparation and development.

E)      To monitor and take positions regarding legislation which affects clinical counselors or the practice of clinical counseling and to educate clinical counselors about legislative issues.

F)      To provide a forum through which clinical counselors may advocate for the social and emotional needs of their clients.

G)     To coordinate and ally with other organizations and counselors to promote the counseling profession and address matters of concern related to clinical counseling.

H)     To monitor third party payment issues and initiate action as appropriate to represent the interests of clinical counselors.


A more pertinent and parsimonious mission summary would omit items C and F above, and leave the following:


A)     To promote the counseling profession and the practice of clinical counseling.

B)      To exchange information pertinent to clinical counseling concerns with members and other appropriate persons through newsletters, regional groups, educational programs, and other mediums of communication.

C)       To promote professional development activities for clinical counselors to expand or renew skills and help satisfy various requirements for re-certification.  To advocate for high standards of professional preparation and development.

D)     To monitor and take positions regarding legislation which affects clinical counselors or the practice of clinical counseling and to educate clinical counselors about legislative issues.

E)      To coordinate and ally with other organizations and counselors to promote the counseling profession and address matters of concern related to clinical counseling.

F)      To monitor third party payment issues and initiate action as appropriate to represent the interests of clinical counselors.


Item A:  Promotion of the clinical counseling profession –

The Virginia Association of Clinical Counseling has actively been promoting the clinical counseling profession since our inception in 1980.  VACC has done so in collaboration with the Virginia Counselors Association, the Board of Counseling, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and assorted other organizations.  We have participated in the now defunct Virginians for Mental Health Equity, which was an organization comprised of a multitude of provider groups that addressed issues of concern to the mental health professions.

VACC has promoted the profession by attending Board of Counseling meetings and assisting the Board with legislative endeavors. VACC operates several committees that serve to promote the profession. Among such committees are the Legislative Committee, the Professional Advocacy Committee, The Public Relations Committee, the Conference Committee, the Ethics and Standards Committee, the Fellowship Committee, the Membership Committee, and the Communications Committee.


The Legislative Committee has participated in several successful legislative initiatives over the years, including those that provided mandatory third party reimbursement for LPC’s, the expansion of our scope of practice in 1993, the ability to receive Medicaid reimbursement, the requirement for mandatory continuing education to renew one’s license, and the development of stiffer supervision requirements. It is also responsible for monitoring legislation and sending out AMHCA Action Alerts.


The Professional Advocacy Committee addresses discrimination toward the counseling profession.  More active in years past when mandatory reimbursement laws were still in the process of becoming law, the Professional Advocacy Committee has had a 62% success rate in convincing scores of major (and minor) corporations to reimburse professional counselors.  Although such issues are rare these days, the committee still addresses issues of discrimination toward the profession in hiring, advertising for positions, testing, and the like. We post our correspondence and the results on our website.


The Public Relations Committee oversees the Conference Committee and the Communications Committee, the latter of which includes the newsletter and website functions.  Together, these functions provide the most visible aspect of our organization.


The Conference Committee is responsible for planning and producing workshops and conferences that enhance the knowledge of professional counselors across the state.  We typically produce two or three workshops a year that bring in new memberships and an average of $2000 profit.


The Communications Committee is responsible for sending out newsletters, managing the website content and quality, and sending out e-mails to our membership and other interested parties.


The Ethics and Standards Committee monitors Board of Counseling meetings and shares the Board minutes with our members via the newsletter. The Committee also writes articles regarding ethical issues for the newsletter.


The Fellowship Committee is responsible for the two $1000 Linda Heacock Memorial Fellowships that VACC awards each year by an essay contest.  The awards provide students and newly graduated aspiring counselors with financial assistance.  The contest brings in new members to our organization and encourages reflection on issues pertinent to licensure and the advancement of the profession.


The Membership Committee oversees the membership renewal process (increasingly automated) and develops ideas and programs to attract new members.


ITEM B: To exchange information pertinent to clinical counseling concerns with members and other appropriate persons through newsletters, regional groups, educational programs, and other mediums of communication.

The above portion of the VACC Mission lies largely within the province of the Communications Committee.  VACC has one of the most comprehensive websites of any of the AMHCA state chapters and the reader is asked to briefly sample the content (www.vacc.org). We use the website to announce conferences, legislative issues, advocacy action, job opportunities, and much, much more.  E-mail is also utilized to keep our membership informed of pertinent concerns or opportunities.  Newsletters, more frequent lately than in the recent past, serve to keep the membership informed.  We also provide the newsletters on the website after they have been circulated to our membership.

Educational programs will be addressed in a later section.  Regional groups, of which there are two at present, provide an opportunity to exchange information between the state and local concerns.  VACC bylaws stipulate that the president of regional groups sit on the Executive Board of VACC.


Item C:  To promote professional development activities for clinical counselors to expand or renew skills and help satisfy various requirements for re-certification.  To advocate for high standards of professional preparation and development.

The above items involve the Conference Committee and the Ethics and Standards Committee.  VACC has produced two to three conferences/workshops a year, always with a discount to our members.  We announce them in statewide mailings, e-mailings, newsletters, and on our website. VACC tries to sprinkle them around the state, and provides a variety of content as described below. Our conferences bring in new membership and an average of $2000 net per workshop.  For some time, we specialized in clinical supervision workshops because there was such a market for them, but now have returned to a variety of topics.  Upcoming workshops include a PowerHouse Practice workshop, a workshop with Dr. Friedel on borderline personality disorder, and a two to three day conference collaboration between VACC and the Virginia Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work. The following is a list of the major workshops over the last few years:


11/05/04              Lynchburg                             Building A PowerHouse Practice

05/13/05              Virginia Beach                       Building A PowerHouse Practice

04/16/06              Alexandria                             Building A PowerHouse Practice

09/22/06              Charlottesville                      The Essence of Clinical Supervision

06/15/07              Virginia Beach                       The Last Minute Ethics Workshop

10/19/07              Lynchburg                             Professional Training Seminar in Clinical Supervision

02/15/08              Richmond                              PTSD/Diagnosis

06/20/08              Norfolk                                  The Last Minute Ethics Workshop

01/09/08              Richmond                              The Competencies and Ethics Of Clinical Supervision

03/27/08              Richmond                              The Skills of Providing Clinical Supervision

09/19/08              Richmond                              The Competencies and Ethics of Clinical Supervision

10/23/09              Richmond                              The Relationship: The Core of Clinical Supervision

11/13/09              Richmond                              The Skills of Providing Clinical Supervision

01/09/09              Virginia Beach                       Building a PowerHouse Practice

05/21/10              Virginia Beach                       Building a PowerHouse Practice

01/28/11              Richmond                              Borderline Personality Disorder



Item D - To monitor and take positions regarding legislation which affects clinical counselors or the practice of clinical counseling and to educate clinical counselors about legislative issues.

VACC has a Legislative Committee, the mission of which is defined above. Our committee receives alerts from national organizations such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the American Counseling Association, and the National Board for Certified Counselors, and passes them on to our membership via e-mail.  We also keep in contact with the Board of Counseling. Our committee members monitor Virginia legislative activity each year to be aware of bills that may potentially affect clinical counselors.  We have recently developed more formal links with the Virginia Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work to assist each other in watchdogging legislative action.

As described earlier, the Legislative Committee has advanced, lobbied for, and successfully shepherded through bills that changed the face of Virginia’s counseling profession.  As referenced previously, such initiatives have included those that provided mandatory third party reimbursement for LPC’s, the expansion of our scope of practice in 1993, the ability to receive Medicaid reimbursement, the requirement for mandatory continuing education to renew one’s license, and the development of stiffer supervision requirements.  We have also rallied our members to support the initiatives of our national organizations, particularly those that address TRICARE and Medicare reimbursement.

The Legislative Committee has also led attempts to stop legislation that VACC feared would harm the profession.  When marriage and family therapists were trying to pass a bill that would establish a new licensure in 1994 (LMFT), VACC challenged the bill for many reasons, among them that another licensure would take business away from professional counselors. There were also objections to some of the language in the bill that, as originally written, could have been interpreted to restrict the right to perform marital and family counseling. We eventually obtained important concessions, but at the cost of nearly $40,000 in legal and lobbying fees.  Fortunately, such situations rarely arise, but VACC stands ready to defend our profession if they do.



Item E - To coordinate and ally with other organizations and counselors to promote the counseling profession and address matters of concern related to clinical counseling.

VACC has developed cordial relationships with the Virginia Association of Clinical Social Work and the Virginia Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Our organizations often invite representatives of the other organizations to attend each other’s Board meeting, and are considering a joint conference hosted by all three groups. We are the state branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association and endeavor to work for both state and national issues whenever possible.  Our current president, Lynessa Glass, forged some connections with the representatives of neighboring states when she attended the AMHCA Leadership Conference.  Through VACC’s annual Linda Heacock Memorial Fellowships, we endeavor to relate to the academic world as well.  From time to time, the topic is raised of working collaboratively with the VCA clinical group that replaced us when we disaffiliated (Virginia Clinical Counselors Alliance) but we have never chosen to act on that possibility.


Item F - To monitor third party payment issues and initiate action as appropriate to represent the interests of clinical counselors.

The above item is among those close to the heart of VACC’s mission – to promote the clinical counseling profession and to protect the clinical counseling profession. Economic viability via third party payment was finally achieved in 1987 after much effort in the years preceding.  Passing the revision to Virginia law is one of VACC’s proudest accomplishments (with due credit to the Board of Counseling and the Virginia Counselors Association for their roles). Redefinition of sections of the Virginia Code in 1993 was another important accomplishment, allowing for enhanced scope of practice.  Medicaid reimbursement was another one of our initiatives.  We also fought against the licensure of additional provider groups.  VACC stands ready, with our Legislative Committee and substantial reserve funds, to initiate legislation to promote the viability of our profession or to protect against threats to it. We are also buoyed by our recent affiliations with VAMFT and VSCSW, who have agreed to collaborate on watching for legislation that would affect either one of our professions.

 

FUTURE OF VACC

Virginia was the first state to license professional counselors for independent clinical practice.  The Virginia Association of Clinical Counselors has been in existence since 1980, just four years after licensure was established.  VACC has been protecting and promoting the clinical counseling profession for over 30 years.  Disaffiliating from the Virginia Counselors Association in 2003, VACC has functioned independently since that time, with the exception of its affiliation with the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

Independence has had its advantages and disadvantages.  As we had expected, disaffiliation from VCA has enabled us to focus exclusively on clinical issues. A disadvantage has been the lack of an executive director and office staff to manage membership issues and dues collection.  Yet, we have managed to persevere and grow our treasury over the years with a volunteer Board of Directors.  The size of our Board and membership rolls have waxed and waned over the years, but have held steady between 150 and 200 members.  Dues are an important contribution to our treasury, but the growth of our treasury can be largely attributed to the successful production of our workshops and conferences.

As the information in previous sections should convey, VACC has consistently fulfilled its mission, and continues to do so. Still, we are taking steps to increase the size of our Board and our membership. We have increased the pace of our newsletters.  Our comprehensive website serves a wide variety of counselors, and we expeditiously e-mail any issues of concern to our membership. We have delegated increasing responsibility to our able webmaster, who has begun to handle membership tasks as well. We have recently incorporated, and are pursuing nonprofit status as a 501(c)(6). We also have solidified our alliances with our colleagues in other professions.

VACC has always been focused on the clinical practitioner, whether they practice in public or private settings. The clinical counselor can be assured that VACC is there for them, fulfilling its mission, as always.

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