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The Counselor’s Survival Guide to Ethical Counseling in a Politicized Era

  • 12/16/2022
  • 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Hanley Learning Center 933 45th St WPB. 33407

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The Counselor’s Survival Guide to Ethical Counseling in a Politicized Era

Aaron Norton, LMHC, LMFT

The 2020 presidential election landed alongside a global pandemic and civil unrest connected to racial injustices, creating a trifecta of stress and potential trauma. The American Mental Health Counselors Association’s 2020 Code of Ethics calls upon clinical mental health counselors (CMHCs) to maintain objectivity (I.A.1); to take care of our own mental health so that we can be centered for our clients (I.C.1.h); to understand the role of our beliefs, values, and biases in our clinical work while seeking to better understand our clients (I.C.1.m); and to refrain from discriminating against our clients for their political beliefs (I.C.2.c).  This is particularly interesting given that the counseling profession is less politically diverse than the clients we serve, with only 15-to-25 % of counselors identifying as conservative. How do we handle situations in which our clients bring politics into the therapy room?  How do CMHCs advocate for sociopolitical causes on one hand while remaining objective on the other? How do respond when our own colleagues, co-workers, friends, and family members view things differently than we do? Within the context of a society that is politically polarized, how do we maintain balance and self-care so that we can be an anchoring presence for our clients? Drawing from the presenter’s research on the relationship between the political ideologies of counselors and their clinical practice, this training was designed to equip you with tools to address these challenges.

Learning Objectives

1.      Articulate an understanding of the political beliefs of counselors as compared to the general population.
2.      Describe the interaction between political beliefs and counseling ethical codes.
3.      Identify and describe a model that can help you develop more insight and empathy for people who disagree with you politically.
4.      Apply productive communication strategies in conversations with people who disagree with you politically.
5.      Create an election self-care plan.

3.0 CEU Hours of Ethics/Professional Boundaries

Aaron Norton, LMHC, LMFT

Aaron, current president of the Florida Mental Health Counselor's Association is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with certifications in addictions, alcohol and drug counseling, rehabilitation counseling, clinical mental health counseling, forensic mental health evaluation, and forensic behavioral analysis. He is recognized by the American Mental Health Counselors Association as a Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist in Substance Abuse and Co-Occurring Disorders. He serves as Executive Director of the National Board of Forensic Evaluators, a national not-for-profit board officially endorsed by the American Mental Health Counselors Association that provides training, certification and professional advocacy for licensed mental health professionals specializing in forensic mental health evaluation. He is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of South Florida's College of Behavioral and Community Sciences as well as a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at USF. He serves as Southern Regional Director for the American Mental Health Counselors Association and President-Elect and Chair of Education, Training Standards, and Continuing Education for the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association. He also works in a private practice specializing in both therapy and forensic and clinical evaluation, as well as providing clinical supervision to mental health counselors and marriage and family therapist interns as a Qualified Supervisor. He has more than 15 years of experience in the counseling profession. He was awarded Mental Health Counselor of the Year by the American Mental Health Counselors Association and Counselor Educator of the Year by the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association in 2016 and has been published in Addiction ProfessionalAmerican Journal of OrthopsychiatryJournal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, Journalof Individual Psychology, and The Advocate Magazine.

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