Thank you! Thank you!
By W. Mark Hamilton, PhD, AMHCA Executive Director & CEO
As I am retiring this month and this will be my last Advocate column, I wish to dispense with my usual reporting and instead thank you for the opportunity to serve AMHCA and the profession for 15 years. During this period, AMHCA has matured and the profession has advanced, and it has given me great personal job satisfaction to witness this progress and growth with all of you. And it has been an immense pleasure to work closely with so many wonderful AMHCA presidents and leaders on your board of directors.
During this past decade-plus, AMHCA launched its Annual Conference, expanded its general membership, and chartered many more state chapters across the nation. Our advocacy and public policy voice in Washington, D.C., has never been stronger. We achieved passage of our first federal legislation (mental health parity—The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008), and continue to build on that success with our efforts to secure Medicare coverage for licensed clinical mental health counselors.
Our efforts to make the public aware of the strong training and capabilities of mental health counselors are blossoming as AMHCA is now fielding an increasing volume of calls from the national and professional media. As an example of how our public visibility is growing, in just the last few months, we have had calls from CNN, U.S. News and World Report, and the Wall Street Journal, which we referred to the appropriate mental health counselors on AMHCA’s leadership team.
AMHCA moved into the digital age with The Advocate in 2009, and now the vast majority of our member information and marketing communications are online and available 24/7. In fact, AMHCA regularly upgrades its national website in order to provide ever more information in a user-friendly format. In addition, our new partnership with Psychotherapy Networker has enabled us to make available to AMHCA members high-quality and professional webinars. Recent topics have included trauma, anxiety, men and intimacy, mindfulness, and the current webinar series—treating clients with challenging issues. (Click here for information on how to sign up for the “Tough Customers” series.)
Importantly, too, the AMHCA Foundation (AMHCF) was established. The Foundation now offers annual student scholarships to increasing numbers of outstanding candidates. With its own dedicated board of professional leaders, we can foresee the AMHCA Foundation making substantial contributions to the profession in the years to come.
Though Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying, ”I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause,” fiduciary stability is an important aspect of securing AMHCA’s future and the advancement of the mental health counseling profession. Over the past 15 years, AMHCA’s budget has nearly doubled—for the current fiscal year, it’s $1,439,000.
Further, we’ve been successful in encouraging development of multiple revenue streams to decrease the association’s reliance on dues. While dues income in 2002 was 75 percent of the association’s total revenue, not only has the total dues income from then until now increased (from $625,000 to $1,013,500), but reliance on dues as a proportion of the 2013–2014 budget has dropped to 70 percent.
Please join me in wishing the very best for AMHCA and to Mr. Joel Miller as he assumes the CEO responsibilities. Joel has a great team in our professional staff, strong board of directors, and above all, a dedicated and supportive national and international membership.
Godspeed and farewell …