The President's Perspective
By Karen Langer, LMHC
AMHCA President, 2012–2013
I am honored and humbled to take on the role of AMHCA president. The role comes not only with the tasks of the position, but also with the responsibility of representing mental health counselors.
First and foremost, as we set our goals for the year, AMHCA will continue the campaign for Medicare reimbursement for mental health counselors. One of the critical challenges in this effort is the need for professional identity as mental health counselors. If we cannot clearly state who we are, we cannot advocate for our profession. By developing consistent standards and a distinct identity, we provide an opportunity for better mobility and better reimbursement. We also create and maintain a strong voice to advocate for the needs of mental health counselors and our clients. We are beginning to address what it means to be a professional clinical mental health counselor through our Professional Standards Committee, development of the Diplomate credential, and our continuous push for recognition in the legislative arena.
Secondly, AMHCA needs to monitor and continue advocacy efforts as the new healthcare programs are unrolled. Mental health counselors are well trained, and it is critical that reimbursement be adequate and consistent with other mental health professionals.
In addition to the ongoing legislative efforts, this year we plan to:
- Use available technology to connect to our members, stay relevant, and to use resources wisely.
- Increase online CEU opportunities for members.
- Create an environment where members feel they can make a difference in their profession and have a responsibility to do so.
- Train and support our future leaders.
- Work collaboratively with other organizations to meet the needs of the clients and members we serve.
- Increase the connectivity of the regions and chapters.
- Increase the involvement of members by providing and encouraging opportunities to get involved.
My Approach to Leadership
A few years back, I put together a list of ways chapters could make membership invaluable to their members. As I look at the above goals, I thought it made sense to use the list as a framework for my own leadership this year.
Do you have anything else to add to the list?
- Return calls even if we are only going to refer the caller to the correct person.
- Check in with our members and with the board and the staff.
- Listen to members and hear their feedback.
Keep it fresh
- Make sure we are keeping members’ interest by maintaining our website and ensuring that the information on is up-to-date and relevant.
- Pay attention to history, but don’t get stuck in the past. New ideas can increase the energy level, but also remember not to fix what is already working well.
When we connect with members:
- Remember what the bylaws and nonprofit status state our mission to be.
- Listen to all their ideas.
- Ask members to step up and implement ideas—if they want something done, ask them to help plan the strategy to accomplish it.
Ask people to help
- Most people are willing to help as long as they understand that they will not get stuck with the bulk of the work or that their work won’t be supported.
- Support them when they do help.
Make sure the association is giving the members something for their membership
- A good piece of legislation or a meaningful initiative will always get people interested.
- Make sure to follow-up. If we promise something, we need to make sure it gets done.
- Ask members what they want from the organization and do what we can to make it happen—within reason, of course.
Remind clinical mental health counselors that as professionals, they have a responsibility to their profession.
Clinical mental health counselors have a responsibility to their clients to be professionals, and part of that is being a member of their professional association.
Be collaborative with other associations—agree to disagree when needed, but also be willing to be part of a collective voice.
Using Technology to Better Serve Members
It is one thing to talk about using available technology and staying relevant, but how exactly?
Here are some of the methods we are using or will be considering as we strive to increase ways to connect with and assist our members.
- Social networking (professional)
- Online meetings—to connect more people over a longer range
- Conference calls
- Online workshops
- Workshop materials—electronically or virtually
- Databases/document storage
- Professional journals/newsletters
- Web links
I welcome hearing from you with your ideas and comments at KLanger@cityu.edu.