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Vanguards for Change: ACES and Social Justice. Catharina Y. Chang Georgia State University Hugh C. Crethar University of Arizona Denise Pickering University of Vermont. Social Justice in Counseling. Do you believe that every individual in the world has the same value?

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Vanguards for Change: ACES and Social Justice

Catharina Y. Chang

Georgia State University

Hugh C. Crethar

University of Arizona

Denise Pickering

University of Vermont

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice in Counseling

  • Do you believe that every individual in the world has the same value?

  • Do you believe some people are more valuable than others?

  • Should everyone receive equal benefits of society?

  • Do you believe all people should have equitable rights?

  • Do you believe all people have the right to a “good life”?

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice Defined

  • Social justice in counseling represents a multifaceted approach in which counselors strive to simultaneously promote human development and the common good through addressing challenges related to both individual and distributive justice.

  • Social justice includes empowerment of the individual as well as active confrontation of injustice and inequality in society as they impact clientele as well as those in their systemic contexts.

  • In doing so, counselors direct attention to the promotion of four critical principles that guide their work: equity, access, participation, and harmony.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice Defined

  • Equity - the fair distribution of resources, rights and responsibilities to all members of society.

  • Access - notions of fairness for both the individual and the common good based on the ability of all people to access the resources, services, power, information and understanding crucial to realizing a standard of living that allows for self-determination and human development.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice Defined

  • Participation - the right for every person in society to partake in and be consulted on decisions that impact their lives as well as the lives of other people in their contexts and systems.

  • Harmony - a principle of social adjustment wherein the actions revolving around the self-interests of any individual or group ultimately produces results that afford the best possible outcomes for the community as a whole.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Why should we address SJ in Counseling?

  • Relationship between social injustice and mental health of marginalized groups.

  • U.S. Surgeon General’s report entitled, “Mental Health: Culture Race, and Ethnicity: A Supplement to Mental Health” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2001).

  • Discrimination, poverty, chronic depression, & stress.

  • 2005 ACA Code of Ethics—E.5.c., directs counselors to “recognize historical and social prejudices in the misdiagnosis and pathologizing of certain individuals and groups and the role of mental health professionals in perpetuating these prejudices through diagnosis and treatment.”

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice as a Foundation for Counseling

  • Frank Parsons—Boston’s Vocational Bureau

  • Clifford Beers—Mental Hygiene Movement

  • Carl Rogers—addresses social problems

  • 1971—”Counseling and the Social Revolution” special ed. of Personnel & Guidance Journal

  • 1987—ACA Position Paper on Human Rights

  • 1992—Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992)

  • 1998—Social Action: A Mandate for Counselors (Lee & Walz)

  • 1999—JCD special edition dedicated to racism

  • 2001—Counselors for Social Justice

  • 2003—Advocacy Competencies endorsed by the ACA Governing Council (Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2003)

  • 2005—ACA revises Code of Ethics

  • 2006—ACES Social Justice & Human Rights Committee

  • 2007—ACES Social Justice Summit

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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ACES Social Justice Summit

  • Joint effort between the NARACES, ACES SJHR Committee, and CSJ.

  • Description of the Summit.

  • Data from the Summit.

  • Future directions…

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice in Counseling Today

  • Social justice has developed into an increasingly influential theme within counseling over the past few decades.

  • This is evidenced by the way it is increasingly referred to as the 5th force in counseling, has lead to the creation of a division of ACA (Counselors for Social Justice) and has resulted in the development of the ACA Advocacy Competencies.

  • The advocacy competencies provide counselors a framework for addressing issues of oppression both with and on behalf of clients and include clear articulation of the concepts of client advocacy and client empowerment.

  • As leaders in the field continue to develop awareness and understanding of the relationship between social injustice/oppression and mental health outcomes, social justice will continue to be a force that shapes counseling.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Personal Action Steps (Lee, 2007)

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Justice Activities

  • Join the ACA Government Relations Listserv to stay updated on events affecting our profession and how you can make a difference. Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line ‘GR Listserv Sign Up’ to subscribe to the listserv.

  • Have your voice heard by sending a fax or email to your legislators through the ACA Legislative Action Center located at http://www.counseling.org/PublicPolicy. Through this center, you will be able to send personal emails to your U.S. Senators and Representative about important legislation that impacts our profession. It only takes a few minutes to set up and under a minute for each fax or email.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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More SJ Activities

  • Volunteer for a political campaign. By volunteering for a politician, you will be much more influential in that particular politician’s eyes.

  • Support/volunteer time with other local service organizations that work for social justice issues. Some of these organizations also have public policy directors and lobbyists which may need help in finding and summarizing counseling research and literature about their particular issues. This is an excellent opportunity to use your skills of interpreting research for politicians and the general public.

  • Join and get involved in ACA divisions that advocate for social justice causes such CSJ, ALGBTIC, and AMCD.

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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Social Advocacy and Professional Advocacy

  • Client Advocacy

    • Self awareness

    • Client services

    • Community collaboration

  • Professional Advocacy

    • Self awareness

    • Client services

    • Community collaboration

      (Chang, Hays, Milliken, 2007)

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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  • How do you see Social Justice related to Counseling? Counselor Education? Supervision?

  • How do you view the relationship between social advocacy and professional advocacy?

  • How have you worked to infuse social justice issues into your teaching? Clinical practice? Supervision?

2008 ACA Conference Honolulu, HI


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