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The Last Word
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Thanks for Helping Me Shoulder the Load of the AMHCA Presidency

By Karen Langer, LMHC, AMHCA President, 2012–2013

It’s hard to believe my year as AMHCA president is coming to an end. We had such a great start with our successful and record-setting conference in Florida in 2012. After a year of planning, it was over all too quickly, but I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to learn, network, and energize as I stepped into my new role as president.

It was very clear from the start that this is a working position. I look at the job description for the AMHCA president and realize my role this year very much followed the outlined tasks:

  • Implement plan of action based on strategic plan. We have a working plan and use that as a focus for the work of the board, the executive director, and the staff.
  • Supervising the Executive Director. I will miss my weekly calls with Mark (AMHCA’s executive director and CEO, W. Mark Hamilton, PhD), and I will have to work harder to stay on top of all that is going on in the organization.
  • Evaluation of the Executive Director. This year I will have to focus on an exit evaluation as Mark retires and the new director steps in. But, never one to let things be, I did re-vamp the form to make sure it aligns with the job description.
  • Representing AMHCA at meetings and conferences and with other organizations and media. I have had some wonderful opportunities during my tenure to represent AMHCA and meet members, as well as advocate for our clients and our profession. I traveled to a few state chapter conferences as well as the Rosalynn Carter Symposium, and I’ve had the opportunity to participate in webinars on the impact of healthcare reform. I had my first “Tweet chat” with US News and was interviewed by news media about stress and the profession. It is good to see that AMHCA’s profile is rising to the point where we are seen as the reliable source on issues relating to the profession. We were even invited to give feedback to Vice President Biden’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
  • Recommending members to fill vacancies. With the election of Judie Berthenthal–Smith, LPC, ALPS, as my successor, we needed to fill the director-at-large position, and appointed LaMarr Edgerson, PsyD, LMFT, Cht, who has since been elected director-at-large for a new three-year term starting in July. With the resignation in mid-March of AMHCA’s then-Western Region director, Stephen Tierney, EdD, LMHC, CAS, we appointed Laurie Geren, LCPC, as Western Region director to fill the remainder of the term, which runs through June 30, 2014.
  • Establishing necessary task forces and appointing task force chairs. Serve as liaison to committees and task forces. More on this below.
  • Presiding over board meetings and conferences as appropriate. AMHCA’s staff, board, and committees have been busy this year. Here are some of the highlights:


  • Professional Development Committee—With the completion of the “Standards for the Practice of Clinical Mental Health Counseling,” the committee turned its attention to the publication of a series of white papers.
  • Public Awareness, Advocacy, and Marketing Committee—Kimberly McCreary was appointed to chair the committee. Committee members have reviewed and revised materials for Mental Health Month and AMHCA has distributed the project manual to state chapter leaders.
  • Graduate Student Committee—This committee has been active as usual; this year developing an AMHCA mentorship program and updating the association’s mentorship manual, in addition to preparing the Silent Auction and other activities for the Annual Conference. See the students’ Facebook page.
  • DSM-5 Task Force—This task force followed developments with the field trials and provided comments on drafts through final publication of the revised DSM-5 in May. Look for the pre-conference workshop on the DSM-5 at the Annual Conference this year, which will be presented by Task Force Chair Gary Gintner, PhD, LPC.
  • Diplomate Review Committee—The committee is beginning the second round of application reviews for presentation at the Annual Conference in Washington D.C.
  • Public Policy and Legislation Committee —Working closely with James Finley, AMHCA’s associate executive director and director of public policy, the committee is tracking developments and advocating in the following areas:
    • Medicare reimbursement for clinical mental health counselors,
    • Support for a “grandparenting” avenue for experienced professionals in the VA’s CACREP degree standard for eligible mental health counselor positions, and
    • A push for inclusion in VA/TRICARE
  • Ad Hoc Veterans Initiative—This group is beginning work to understand the needs and strategies for working with our veterans and their families.
  • Ad Hoc-CACREP 2016 Standards Review Committee—This committee spent six months reviewing the proposed CACREP 2016 revisions and submitted extensive feedback to CACREP. The committee will follow-up during the next revision period and encourages members to do the same.

Universal Standards and the Impact on Practitioners

We have begun to look at this issue, but will need to step up in the future. We did work with CACREP to send a letter to state boards and schools to explain the Intitute of Medicine (IOM) ruling and its impacts, including the requirement of CACREP accreditation for inclusion within federal programs. 

Executive Director Search Committee

With the retirement of AMHCA Executive Director and CEO Mark Hamilton, PhD, this fall, the board has initiated a search for a new executive director. 

We take this search very seriously and hope we will be successful in finding an apt replacement who can continue to move the organization forward to bigger and greater things. 

(See Mark’s reflection on leaving AMHCA in his column in this issue.)

Practice Resources

  • Created Private Practice Library—Deb Legge
  • Updated website for easier navigation and to set the stage for additionalcapabilities
  • Began offering webinars through AMHCA’s partnership with Psychotherapy Networker

Thank You! 

My heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped to shoulder the load—I can’t thank you enough for making this year a success. This includes the entire board, committee chairs, and others who have stepped up to help with special projects. 

I have been very fortunate to work with such a dynamic and dedicated board and am looking forward to working with this group again during my year as past president, during which time I intend to focus on board development and helping with the transition of the new executive director. 

Next task: Discern the slate of officers for the upcoming 2014 election.

This article is titled, “The Last Word,” but there is too much to do and too many people to meet, so I intend to make sure it is a long time before I have the last word on AMHCA affairs.