Counseling students attend national conference

April 27, 2011

Sixteen Indiana State University students participated in the American Counseling Association Conference in New Orleans.

The students are members of ISU's clinical mental health counseling graduate class of 2011 and 2012. Catherine Tucker, an assistant professor in counseling area programs, was the catalyst behind organizing the trip.

"We fortunately were able to get funding to assist the students with a grant from the Community Engagement Center here on campus," Tucker said. "We tied the trip to the Individual Appraisal in Counseling course and we were able to get a grant to help fund this trip for the first time."

The American Counseling Association (ACA) conference is a highly regarded national conference that attracts professionals and graduate students from across the United States and internationally. A series of guest lecturers including Judith Beck and Soledad O'Brien headlined the speaking events. Networking events and presentations were also available for the students to attend. Focus points of the conference include areas such as ethical dilemmas, skill training and developing better approaches for helping diverse individuals.

The conference offered students a unique opportunity to network with counseling professionals in person. Students also had the chance to connect with other counseling students from around the world and observe their perspectives. Previously, students had to pay-out-of-pocket to attend the conference, but the grant subsidized some of those expenses for this year's trip.

Brandi Cooke, a counseling graduate student who attended the conference, relished the opportunity that was afforded to her through the program.

"It's really good to go ahead and get to know people who are out there and contributing to our field," Cooke said. "Overall, it was a great experience. Last year I went to our state [Indiana] conference and it was a completely different world in New Orleans. It really taught us a lot about being proactive in our field and the value of networking."

Three of the students presented a poster and managed a booth at the conference while the other students were able to visit other booths and functions at the conference. Tucker says the value of attending a national conference will help the students.

"The biggest thing is providing our students with a larger frame of reference," Tucker said. "Going to an event like this allows our students to contextualize situations better when they're dealing with clients as they have a wider background of knowledge from connecting with other professionals."

Aside from the networking, Cooke said that that the practical knowledge obtained from the conference will really help the students moving forward.

"The conference was a good overview of our program and allowed us to do a lot of hands-on stuff," Cooke said. "Before the conference even began we had a volunteer opportunity to repair an overgrown cemetery that was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. We also talked in depth about issues counselors face such as issues with adolescents, which was really good experience for us."

In addition to several students serving as graduate assistants, class members obtain practical experience by working in ISU's Counseling Clinic. The clinic provides an array of services for individuals and is fully compliant with the standards of the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics, the America Psychological Association and Indiana state law.

For more information about the program and access to a student video log of the trip to New Orleans, please go to the ISU Counseling homepage at http://coe.indstate.edu/cdcsep/counseling/

Writer: Scott Campbell, Indiana State University, media relations assistant, at 812-237-3773 or rcampbell10@indstate.edu