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From The President's Perspective
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Looking Ahead at Challenges, Opportunities, and Goals


By Judith Bertenthal-Smith, LPC, ALPS 
AMHCA President, 2013–2014

It is with tremendous excitement and an equal amount of trepidation that I assume the presidency of AMHCA. I am a believer in the notion that a certain degree of discomfort is a wonderful catalyst for growth and creativity. I take great solace in the commitment, hard work, and expertise of the AMHCA board, the AMHCA staff, and our committee members and chapter leaders. 

Change is inevitable and frequently bittersweet, and for AMHCA this year, more so than previously. We begin with a significant transition. Our long-term executive director and CEO, W. Mark Hamilton, PhD, is retiring this fall. His leadership has guided our young organization well. We wish him all the best in this new chapter in his life.

AMHCA looks forward to introducing the new executive director to the membership and working with this individual. New leadership brings different energy into an organization, and it will be stimulating for us all. During this transition, however, we have as a guide our mission of working for the benefit of mental health professional counselors and the individuals they serve.

Sometimes when advocating for the profession, we forget what led us to the profession. We are, at the core, helpers—individuals committed to assisting those with mental health issues find a more functional and productive way of operating in the world. The challenges of our world today may at times seem insurmountable at both the micro and macro level. There still exists stigma for people with mental health issues, and disparity for mental healthcare in spite of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act. 

The tragic mass shootings across the United States and the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon unfortunately have not led to a constructive discussion of mental health and violence. We are the advocates for the people who come to us, we can articulate intelligently, and we demonstrate by executing our craft the best way to care for, treat, and understand this misunderstood area. This is what AMHCA is about. This is why I am proud to be a mental health counselor.

My leadership style is collaborative and accessible. This year the Conference Planning Committee has worked hard on our 2013 conference, and members of the committee have shown me once again the quality of our membership. AMHCA Past President Karen Langer, LMHC, and other past presidents have been invaluable in their mentoring, and our president-elect, Stephen Giunta, PhD, LMHC, NCC, is sure to be a valuable new member on AMHCA’s board.

During the Coming Year, My Goals Include:

Legislative Initiatives:

  • Continue to work for Medicare reimbursement
  • Enable better access to TRICARE
  • Ensure that mental health counselors are included in ACA (Affordable Care Act) implementation
  • Assist chapters in Medicaid reimbursement

Chapter Development:

  • Increase communication between regional directors and among chapters
  • Encourage chapter grants application
  • Create a Speakers Bureau
  • Assist chapters with best use of technology

Board Initiatives:

  • More frequent communications
  • Review and establish new strategic plan
  • Begin Veterans Initiative
  • Review existing by-laws

Professional Identity:

  • Increase opportunities to promote and educate all constituencies to the education, training, proficiency, and expertise of clinical mental health counselors
  • Promote AMHCA’s Diplomate Programs
  • Continue collaborations with other associations

Other Initiatives:

  • Increase member services (including new white papers), and webinars
  • Continue and increase partnerships for non-dues revenue
  • Reach out to graduate school programs to increase student membership and educate faculty about AMHCA’s importance as a professional association

I look forward to hearing from you (email me at, and to working with the membership. I thank you for your support. 

Let’s get to work!

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