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Mental Health Counseling Profession: High Stress, Low Pay?

The profession of “mental health counselor” has the dubious distinction of being No. 4 of the 15 professions described in a June CNN Money article about jobs that are highly stressful relative to the level of pay. 

Reporter Les Christie quotes AMHCA Director-at-Large LaMarr Edgerson, PsyD, as saying that even though clinical mental health counseling is relatively low-paying, “It’s an amazing feeling when someone looks you in the eye and says, ‘You saved my life.’”

The article cites the median pay for the profession as $32,599, and notes that the low pay is “despite years of education and training: about two-thirds of mental health counselors have master’s degrees or higher.” In addition, 84.4 percent of mental health counselors say their job is stressful, according to Christie.

Among the other stressful, poorly paying jobs on the CNN Money list are restaurant kitchen manager, home healthcare coordinator, and emergency services dispatcher. Read about all 15 jobs.


AMHCA Names New Southern Region Director to Its Board

Daniel J. Edwards, LPC/MHSP, NCC, a readjustment counselor and clinical coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Nashville Vet Center, is AMHCA’s new Southern Region director.

AMHCA’s board appointed Edwards to the position after the then-Southern Region director—A. Keith Mobley, PhD, LPCS, ACS—was elected in the spring as AMHCA president-elect. Mobley assumed his new position July 1, and Edwards will complete the last full year of Mobley’s term, which ends June 30, 2015.

A member of the Tennessee Licensed Professional Counselors Association (TLPCA) since 2007, Edwards was the 2009 Community Service Award winner for TLPCA. For the past three years, he has served on the TLPCA executive board, as president-elect (2011–2012), president (2012–2013) and past president (2013–2014). 

He has been an AMHCA member since 2009 and has represented TLPCA at the AMHCA Annual Leadership Training since 2010. A Q&A with Edwards will run in a fall issue of The Advocate.


Check Out New AMHCA Blog by AMHCA CEO Joel E. Miller

Be privy to strategic guidance on issues that are important to the clinical mental health counseling profession in the new blog of AMHCA’s high-energy, prolific executive director & CEO, Joel E. Miller. Miller notes in the first blog that in his AMHCA position he is “dedicated to addressing the needs of clinical mental health counselors, improving the financing and delivery of mental health services at the national and state level, and addressing mental health issues across the lifespan.” 

Through the blog, Miller hopes to provide strategic guidance and “address issues that are important to the professionals we serve.” He also looks forward to connecting on a more informal level with AMHCA members. 

AMHCA Launches New Webinar Series on Clinical Issues

Fast on the heels of launching it’s new six-part webinar series on “Private Practice Management” in May, 
AMHCA has announced a new companion webinar series on “Emerging and New Clinical Issues Facing CMHCs—Are You Ready?”

The Private Practice Management series has been very popular with members, and AMHCA expects the same high level of interest in the clinical issues series. 

Dramatic changes are occurring in the field of clinical mental health counseling, changes that directly affect CMHCs and their sustainability in the market, including:

AMHCA’s Journal of Mental Health Counseling Issues a Call for Proposals

Special Issue on:
“Trauma Counseling and Interventions”

TheJournal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC)is planning a special issue on “Trauma Counseling and Interventions” for the October 2015 issue. We seek proposals for manuscripts that are clinically focused and will be useful to CMHCs in their counseling practice, or in communities that have experienced traumatic events.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Sept. 15, 2014. Prospective authors may find it helpful to consult the JMHC Author Guidelines on AMHCA’s website.

Proposals should include the following:
  • Title of manuscript
  • Abstract of 100 to 250 words
  • Outline of major topics and sub-topics (Manuscripts should not exceed 25 pages, including references and tables.)
  • List of three to five seminal resources
  • Description of authors’ expertise related to the topic—clinical experience, publications/presentations, or research
Partial timeline for the special issue:
  • Proposals for manuscripts are due Sept. 15, 2014.
  • Authors will be notified of proposal acceptance on Oct. 15, 2014. (Proposal acceptance does not guarantee acceptance of submitted manuscripts.)
  • Manuscripts are due no later than March 15, 2015.
Email proposals in an attached Word document to:
  • JMHCEditor-Elect Dr. Richard Ponton,Georgian Court University,, and
  • Guest Editor of Special Issue Dr. Rachael Goodman, George Mason University,
If you need additional information, please include both editors in your correspondence.
  • Increasing acceptance of diagnostic tools such as DSM,
  • Shifts in the healthcare delivery system,
  • Expanding use of technologies to increase access,
  • Effects of multicultural issues on client treatment,
  • Challenges of returning veterans with severe mental health conditions,
  • Suicide prevention programs, and
  • Forensic mental health service issues.

To help CMHCs adapt to these dramatic changes and new ways of working with clients, AMHCA offers this new series of educational webinar presentations to educate and support CMHCs about issues that directly affect their profession. 

Earn 1.5 CEs for each 90-minute webinar session

The first webinar, on June 25, was on “Forensic Evaluations and Expert Witness Issues.” The next webinar in the series is on Aug. 12, from 12:00–1:30 p.m. EST, on “DSM-5’s New Landscape for Personalized Diagnosis and Treatment Planning for CMHCs.”

The presenter is Aaron Norton, LMHC, CRC, CAP, president-elect of the Tampa Bay Chapter (SMHCA) of FMHCA, and an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida.

This session will build on your DSM-IV knowledge by providing an overview of all the changes from the DSM-IV to the DSM-5,including:

  • The paradigm shift with the new edition,
  • Changes in how disorders are organized,
  • Descriptions of new disorders, and
  • Changes in existing disorders.

The webinar will also share free resources that counselors can access to sharpen their diagnostic tools using the new criteria.

For those who missed a previous webinar but would still like to see it, the webinars are being recorded and are available for pay and viewing at any time. Each webinar is $29 for AMHCA members; $39 for nonmembers. 

Get more information about both the Private Practice Management series and the Emerging and New Clinical Issues Facing CMHCs series, or register for a webinar. 

Questions? Contact Whitney Meyerhoeffer at or 800–
326–2642, x 108.


Three AMHCA Staff Members Earn Promotions

Three members of AMHCA’s small, hard-working 

staff were singled out for promotions recently: Melissa McShepard, Linda Morano, and Whitney Meyerhoeffer.

“We are very pleased to announce these promotions and acknowledge the hard work and contributions that Melissa, Linda, and Whitney make on behalf of AMHCA members,” said Joel E. Miller, AMHCA executive director and CEO. “With these changes, we are very excited about expanding our ability to address the needs and promote the interests of the AMHCA membership.”

  • Melissa McShepard, Director of Finance & Operations

Melissa McShepard has worked at AMHCA for a little over six years. Though her job responsibilities haven’t changed, her title has—from office administrator to director of Finance & Operations. “I enjoy what I do and the daily challenges and adventures my work takes me on,” McShepard says. “I enjoy talking to our members and look forward to our Annual Conference each year when I get the opportunity to meet them in person,” she says. 

  • Whitney Meyerhoeffer, Projects Manager

Projects manager Whitney Meyerhoeffer, who has worked at AMHCA since January,  is “always on the lookout for new ways to help AMHCA connect with members.” She works on the webinar and Meet-Me call activities, graphic design and copyediting, social media, and membership data entry, in addition to managing the blog. “It’s been great working on different projects and being able to build as well as maintain them. It is nice being with an organization on the cutting-edge of such great new ideas.” 

  • Linda Morano, Director of Member Services

Linda Morano, who has worked for almost 16 years at AMHCA, knows the workings of the association’s database inside and out. But with her promotion to director of Member Services, “I seem to be involved in more decision-making and management of our membership database and less involved with data entry,” she observes. One aspect of her job that she particularly enjoys is that, “Even though I am not a mental health counselor, I still indirectly help people through an association that represents mental health counselors.”


USA Today Continues Its Special Report on Mental Health: “Cost of Not Caring”

In a series of articles, USA Today is exploring the human and financial costs that the country pays for not caring more about the 10 million Americans with serious mental illness. The excerpts below are from the June 25, 2014, article by Liz Szabo, USA Today. 

Cost of Not Caring: Stigma Set in Stone

“Stigma against the mentally ill is so powerful that it’s been codified for 50 years into federal law. ... This systemic discrimination, embedded in Medicaid and Medicare laws, has accelerated the emptying of state psychiatric hospitals, leaving many of the sickest and most vulnerable patients with nowhere to turn.”
“Funding is so poor and services are so hard to find that many patients can get help only after they’ve become psychotic, [Ron] Manderscheid, [executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Disability Development Directors] says.”

“In 1963 ... President John F. Kennedy, signed legislation to create a network of community mental health centers across the country. But the nation never followed through, Manderscheid says. While many of the old hospitals have closed, the country built fewer than half of the planned 1,500 mental health centers.”

“... [T]he most promising way to dispel stereotypes is to meet someone with mental illness face-to-face, [Patrick] Corrigan, [a professor of psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology] says. These sorts of encounters are two to three times as effective as educational programs.”

Source: USA Today, June 25, 2014.