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AMHCA White Papers
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The Advancement of Clinical Practice Committee of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) is responsible for developing, coordinating, and producing the white papers, which give a brief orientation to clinical mental health counselors about topics relevant to current practice. Existing AMHCA white papers include mental illness prevention, technology in counseling, trauma-informed practices, and responding to suicide risk. Learn more about AMHCA's Advancement for Clinical Practice Committee.

The Professional Identity of Clinical Mental Health Counselors

Clinical mental health counseling is a proactive mental health profession that treats mental illness, addresses life distress and adjustment issues, and facilitates wellness in individuals, families, and their related contexts (Shallcross, 2013). Although clinical mental health counselors, also known as professional counselors, are eligible for licensure in all 50 states and widely recognized as effective and efficient providers of mental health services to both clinical and non-clinical populations, evidence of professional identity confusion remains. Download the white paper.

Behavioral Health Counseling in Health Care Integration Practices and Health Care Systems

Health care reform through new delivery and financing models is creating better patient outcomes. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides impetus to these initiatives, healthcare reform is not simply about what is codified in the ACA. There are market forces – as well as other state and federal initiatives – that predate the ACA, and will greatly enhance the delivery of both medical and behavioral health care services in the future. The integration of mental health and primary care medical services with an emphasis on prevention is part of those marketplace and regulatory imperatives. Download the white paper.


Integration of Mental Health and Primary Care Services

Persons in the U.S. public mental health system with serious mental illness are dying 25 years earlier than the general population. Consumers, who have a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse, on average, die nearly 32 years earlier than their fellow citizens. In the general population, individuals with a mental illness die nearly 9 years sooner than those without a mental health disorder. The leading solution to address this problem is to integrate behavioral healthcare and primary healthcare services. Download the white paper.

Mental Illness Prevention
This white paper explores the Affordable Care Act's impacts on mental health care and discusses a framework for understanding how to promote mental health and prevent illness that can be utilized by CMHCs and by public health entities. This framework focuses on primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention efforts as it relates to mental health and illness. Included is a list of actions for CMHCs to aid in preventing mental illness. Download the white paper.
Understanding Suicide Prevention

This white paper is a preliminary look at the needs of persons at-risk for suicide or suicide attempts. Readers are encouraged to pursue the plentiful evidence-based practices and best practices that are reviewed in widely available publications and sites. It includes a list of "Top 10 Things to Know about Suicide Prevention and Intervention." Download the white paper.

Treating Trauma and Chronic Distress

Effective treatment helps an individual resolve trauma-related memories and feelings. In doing this, they process underlying self-beliefs, learn how to regulate strong emotions, and establish trusting relationships. CMHCs offer individuals and families the hope that they can recover. The effective treatment of trauma, chronic distress, developmental trauma, traumatic reenactment should be a hallmark of ethical practice. Download the white paper.

Technology Assisted Counseling

This white paper provides recommendations for the use of technology assisted counseling (TAC) between clinical mental health counselors and clients. TAC can include the use of synchronous (telephone, videoconferencing, e-mail) and non-synchronous modalities (e-mail, chatting, texting, and fax). Download the white paper.

9 Ways to Build Your Practice

AMHCA past president Tom Ferro, LCPC, offers valuable guidance from decisions on getting started to developing a niche, from using the power of word of mouth to selecting a billing service, and from giving presentations to taking care of yourself. Download the white paper.