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News From AMHCA's CEO
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News From AMHCA's CEO

By W. Mark Hamilton, PhD
AMHCA Executive Director & CEO

AMHCA Helps Its Post-Graduates

The AMHCA board of directors has voted to extend the student membership dues rates to practicing clinical mental health counselors for two years post-graduation. This decision was made in recognition of the difficult economic reality that many new graduates face and to provide tangible support to new professionals who are AMHCA members. 

The new membership category, called “professional associate,” applies to both master’s and doctoral degrees. AMHCA values its student members and the contribution they make to our association.

Orlando, Here We Come!

With registration on track for record-setting attendance at our Annual Conference this summer, AMHCA has already increased the size of our hotel room block twice. To be sure you get a spot in the conference hotel, the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, make your reservation soon!

We are also pleased that exhibitors will be attending in record numbers in Orlando. As usual, the conference will be preceded by AMHCA’s Annual Leadership Training, which is designed to nurture and enhance chapter leadership. The training brings together our state chapter leaders from across the nation. 

Many conference events will be designed with our student members in mind, including a student lunch on Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m.; the Student Silent Auction, which funds the Donald Matson Scholarship that helps pay for an outstanding student member’s travel to next year’s AMHCA Annual Conference; a Student Lounge; and opportunities for roommate matching to defray lodging costs. 

As always, the Annual Award Luncheon will honor many outstanding individuals and organizations as well as some deserving AMHCA state chapters. 

AMHCA’s conference is the only national conference devoted exclusively to the needs of mental health counselors and the mental health counseling profession. For more information about our 2012 Annual Conference, or register online for the conference. Register by June 26 to take advantage of advance registration rates.

In this issue, our President–Elect Karen Langer, LMHC, lists her top 10 reasons for attending AMHCA’s Annual Conference this year. What are yours?

It’s Been a Great Year for AMHCA

Fiscal health. As we approach the close of the association’s fiscal year at the end of June, AMHCA has never been stronger. In fact, I’m especially proud we have done so well despite an extremely challenging U.S. economy.

  • Our membership continues to grow—our net gain of 300 members has helped boost us close to 6,500 total members.
  • Our financial position is strong, not only because we have the best volunteers and committed leaders, but because our budget mantra remains consistently: “to live within our means.”
  • AMHCA supports a staff of five at the national office and we have strong relationships with the several external consultants with whom we work.
  • Last July we completed a successful Annual Conference and Annual Leadership Training in San Francisco, and we look forward to the same in Orlando.

Enhanced programming. In the program area, we have broken new ground in several areas.

  • We revised and published our Clinical Standards.
  • We launched the new Diplomate Credential. Members can apply for it online!
  • We offered our first webinar, in partnership with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), and we have more online programs planned for the future.
  • We welcomed Wiley Publishers as a new partner.

Continued strong public policy presence on Capitol Hill. Our public policy and legislation efforts continue to be a top priority even though our issues face stiff challenges because of the fall election and congressional gridlock. Be sure to check our weekly online updates.

An AMHCA task force was formed to address the American Psychiatric Associations’ draft revisions of the DSM-5. (For information about the latest version of the DSM-5, see the Noteworthy item in this issue.)

AMHCA Foundation expands. The AMHCA Foundation (AMHCF) was busy this year with:

  • Improving its website,
  • Awarding its first scholarships, and
  • Planning its first reception at the Annual Conference.

Strong member leaders. We have had an outstanding president in Dr. Gray Otis, who has contributed much to AMHCA’s development. Don’t miss his parting thoughts, which appear in “The Last Word” department in this issue. 

Best wishes to Karen Langer, LMHC, as she prepares to become AMHCA president on July 1. As always, I am grateful for the hard work of the national office staff and our consultants.

We look forward to kicking off another strong year for AMHCA at our Annual Conference in Orlando in July. I hope to see you there!