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Confessions of a Regional Representative

By Reid Stell, LMHCA

Serving as Student Regional Representative of AMHCA for Washington State from February through June was as enriching an experience as it was short-lived. Since graduating in June from City University of Seattle with my MACP (Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology), I have been able to take a breath and reflect on my involvement with the national Graduate Student Committee (GSC).

Our monthly conference calls allowed the other state reps from AMHCA’s Western Region and me to touch base with each other and to get our marching orders from our regional liaison to the GSC, Amy Peden. Amy reported regional progress to the then-chair of the national GSC, Melissa Gelnette–Fabrizio.

Between meetings, I collected information on activities of the Washington state chapter (Washington Mental Health Counselors Association, or WMHCA), reported on state legislative initiatives affecting the counseling field, and worked at recruiting students for association membership.

While performing these duties, I benefited from the professional development and networking that naturally accompanied my endeavors. Any contribution I may have made to the greater good of the association was dwarfed by the value of the personal and professional connections I made during those months.

My efforts to bring other students into WMHCA and AMHCA were particularly important to me. I had a message for these new students. Waiting until my third year in grad school to join AMHCA was a mistake. I wanted to spread the word that the professional development and clinical advantages afforded to students by AMHCA and WMHCA are best taken advantage of starting in the first year of grad school—not the last.

Since I had taken the GSC committee position a mere five months before graduation, there was another important function I had to attend to before my term slipped away: finding my replacement. Using a simple email marketing campaign and brief on-campus presentations, I was able to combine my recruiting efforts toward general membership and for the Committee.

Fortune quickly smiled on me, and a very capable first-year grad student, new AMHCA member Lisa Johnson, stepped forward and agreed to take my place as Western Region student rep. Her communication background, organizational focus, and early start will, I am happy to say, serve our regional and national interests very well.