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 support the allowance of conversion therapy in your state. Conversion therapy is unsettling to you given your knowledge about the risks of addictions and mental health disorders faced by teens who are gay (see the articles in 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. 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.). 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:
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