Counselors have an ethical responsibility to advocate for marginalized populations with the goal of eliminating barriers for marginalized populations (ACA, 2014). Sue and Sue (2016) emphasized that this may require challenging the traditional assumptions of counseling. For example, this could involve recognizing that the locus of a client’s problem may be the environment at school or work.
Counselors must be prepared to act at the individual and systems level. Sue and Sue (2016) cited the literature on advocacy roles counselors may need to play, including advocate, change agent, facilitator of indigenous support systems, and advisor. Promoting social justice will require counselors to be prepared to intervene to act at the micro, meso, and macro levels as discussed by Dr. Paylo. You may also find use in referring to the Advocacy Counseling Domains media piece when crafting the specific appeals in your letter.
During your internship at the Riverbend City clinic, you have been training to be alert to the impact of oppression and discrimination on mental health. Thus, you are in an excellent position not only to assess the impact of discrimination on clients but to advocate to reduce discrimination at a systems level. In fact, your knowledge of the research literature along with the firsthand experience you are building with clients empowers you as a professional who can speak on behalf of marginalized populations.
As a professional counselor and a member of a professional association, you make it a point to remain aware of national and state advocacy campaigns (for example, see the ACA’s Take Action website linked in the resources).
You notice there is an active legislative campaign to ban conversion therapy in your state. This practice is disturbing to you given your first-hand experience with the risks of addiction and mental health disorders faced by teens who are gay due to discrimination (see the Huffington Post article or NBC Learn video linked in the resources).
You bring this up in supervision as you want to take action to support the ban on conversion therapy. You ask if your supervisor would offer some pointers for drafting a letter to your state legislators to raise their awareness on the risk of conversion therapy and to advocate persuasively for their support of legislation to ban the practice of conversion therapy. You also ask if your supervisor would review your letter once it is drafted as you want to ensure that your presentation of the facts is accurate, well-written, and effectively employs the rhetorical principles of logos, ethos, and pathos you have been studying in class.
American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. Retrieved from: https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/ethics/2014-code-of-ethics.pdf?sfvrsn=2d58522c_4
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2016). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
For this assignment, you will compose a letter to a legislative member which advocates for them to take specific action on the topic of conversion therapy policy. In your letter, you should emphasize evidence and research-based reasoning to support your platform. However, you should not completely disregard the use of anecdotal evidence of patients to emphasize the human and emotional elements of the subject. The use of rhetoric or other persuasive writing strategies is also recommended (see the Riverbend City: Making a Case with Solid Rhetoric media piece for extra practice, if you have not already worked through it). Additionally, keep in mind that you are advocating from your role as a counseling professional on behalf of clients or populations you work with. While your personal feeling may or may not align specifically with the professions platform on the issue, it is important that you are able to differentiate between your professional responsibilities and personal views.
In your letter, make sure to address the following:
Present your counseling specialization (for example, CMHC or SC), your ethical obligation to advocate for marginalized populations, and scientifically grounded practice.
From what counseling specialization are you approaching this issue?
How do your profession and ethical code guide you towards advocacy for marginalized populations and scientifically grounded practice?
Explain the risks to the identified population for which you are seeking legislative protection.
What are the risks facing the identified population?
How do these risks endanger or negatively impact individuals from this population?
Why do these risks warrant legislative protection?
Describe how therapeutic interventions grounded in best practices promote help-seeking and optimal development among individuals and families.
What are examples of therapeutic interventions grounded in best practices?
What is the evidence that these interventions promote help seeking and optimal development among individuals and families?
How is this relevant to the population and issue you are writing about?
Advocate for specific legislative or policy action on the grounds of its benefits for a specific population.
What is the specific legislative or policy action?
What are its benefits for a specific population?
Why are these benefits worthy of the time and resources to create new legislation or policy?
What are the risks of not taking legislative or policy action?
Communicate an argument regarding an advocacy issue that is persuasive, respectful, and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration between counselors and relevant governmental offices.
Apply the principles of effective composition.
Determine the proper application of the rules of grammar and mechanics.
Apply a persuasive technique to your writing.
Integrate relevant sources to support assertions, correctly formatting citations and references using the current APA style.
Determine the proper application of APA formatting requirements and scholarly writing standards.
Assess the relevance and credibility of information sources.
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