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  • 27 Jun 2018 4:05 PM | Deleted user

    June 27th, 2018

    Statement by Oregon Counseling Association Regarding the Trump Administration’sZero Tolerance Policy and the Detainment of Immigrant Children

    Oregon Counseling Association is shocked and saddened for the thousands of immigrants, including over 2,000 children, who have been detained and separated from their family members as a result of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Even in this time of extraordinary political divide in our country, the policy and its resulting practices have been widely condemned by individuals and organizations across the political spectrum. While President Trump last week signed an Executive Order formally ending the practice of separating families the border, there is still no timetable for reuniting separated families, and multiple news outlets are reporting that detained migrants are being offered reunification with their children only if they agree to withdraw their asylum cases and be voluntarily deported. Some current and former U.S. government officials believe that many of the separated families will never be reunited.

    As counseling professionals, we possess an intimate knowledge through our training and clinical experiences of the harmful consequences of adverse childhood experiences, as well as the trauma that results from forced separation of any duration from parents and caregivers. Separating and detaining children and families indefinitely is a clear catalyst for trauma, and there have been disturbing reports of the treatment children have received while detained, including being forcibly given psychotropic drugs without patient or parental consent in response to behaviors that counseling professionals can easily identify as trauma responses.

    The actions sanctioned by our federal government’s policy represent clear risk factors for future mental health and substance abuse challenges. As such, our profession’s values, as well as our roles as advocates for positive change, compel all counselors to condemn this inhumane policy in the strongest possible terms. The American Counseling Association has called on the Trump Administration to immediately and permanently end family separations and the zero tolerance policy, present a clear plan with a timeline for reuniting detained children with the parents or legal guardians who brought them to the U.S. border, and present a clear plan for providing treatment of the trauma inflicted on all family members impacted by this policy.

    We urge ORCA members and the broader counseling community to take action. Call or write letters to your congressional representatives urging them to demand that the Trump Administration promptly reunite and provide treatment to the thousands of individuals harmed by the Zero Tolerance Policy. While we recognize that the counseling profession is comprised of both critics and supporters of the current administration, it is also true that our training and knowledge related to human growth and development knows no political ideology. Please join us in standing up in support of detained immigrants and in opposition to government-sanctioned trauma.

    Joel A. Lane, PhD LPC NCC
    President, Oregon Counseling Association

  • 09 May 2018 3:03 PM | Deleted user

    We are delighted to announce a new benefit for ORCA members stemming from an exciting new partnership between ORCA and Person Centered Techa Portland-based company providing mental health professionals with guidance and consultation regarding technology security. Person Centered Tech (PCT) demystifies the legal and technical topics that are required of counselors by providing education, tools, and resources required to help make your business successful. 

    As part of their partnership with ORCA, PCT has agreed to provide ORCA members with quarterly ORCA-members-only webcast “office hours,” where you can get your burning tech and ethics questions answered by the experts at PCT. Reserve your spot and submit your questions today for the first ORCA/PCT office hours Thursday, May 31st at 10am! And if you're not yet an ORCA member, join up now so you don't miss out on this great resource. You'll be able to watch the webcasts live online, or later on the ORCA website by logging into your members-only page.

     We are ecstatic about this opportunity for our members, as this benefit will assist you in ensuring that your policies and practices related to technology are HIPAA-compliant and in line with the laws and ethics of our profession. 

    See you Thursday, May 31st at 10am for the first ORCA/PCT office hours. Reserve your spot and submit your questions today! 

  • 01 May 2018 9:18 PM | Deleted user

    From the Spring 2018 issue of The Counselor:

    As a clinician treating a client suffering a terminal illness, it is possible that your client may request from their attending physician a prescription for a lethal dose of medication consistent with the Death With Dignity (DWD) statutes of Oregon, and for those of us practicing on the border, Washington State or California. It is conceivable that the attending physician may have concerns about whether your client is competent or capable of making such a decision, and while you would not be asked to render the ultimate opinion on the matter, which is akin to a forensic opinion, you would no doubt be consulted with concerning your observations and clinical opinion. 

    The intent of this article is to provide a basic orientation for counselors in Oregon of a few of the relevant statutory factors so that they are better able to consult with other professionals involved in evaluating the client’s competence or capacity to proceed with DWD...

    Click here to read the rest of the story.

  • 01 May 2018 8:50 PM | Deleted user

    From the Spring 2018 issue of The Counselor:

    Finding out who I am as a person is an unfolding journey that has taken me through the uncharted waters of gender, identity, sex, power, and privilege (Bornstein, 2013). During this process, I have felt trapped, stuck, confused, angry, overwhelmed, powerless, ashamed, despairing, and joyful. Similarly, my trans* clients have experienced waves of confusion, disorientation, anger, grief, sadness, loss, and the discovery of something new. These emotions accompany different chapters of the journey of gender, as my clients and I have moved from a received/socialized gender identity into expanding vistas of gender possibility and freedom. As counselors and therapists, we can help people in their journeys of becoming their unique selves, by midwifing people through the process of becoming a new self, recognizing that self, growing into it, giving it up, and grieving the self—then beginning the cycle anew...

    Click here to read the rest of the story.

  • 01 May 2018 8:45 PM | Deleted user

    From the Spring 2018 issue of The Counselor:

    The most well-meaning person may still occasionally find themselves saying “time heals all wounds” or “it was meant to be.”  As mental health counselors, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.  We must recognize the grief that accompanies life, and hold space as clients experience the various dimensions of grief, allowing them to find their way through...

    Click here to read the rest of the story.

  • 01 May 2018 8:36 PM | Deleted user
    From the Spring 2018 issue of The Counselor:

    When I was 12 years old, my family and I flew from America to Southeast Asia to visit my ailing grandfather. To my relief, my grandfather made a recovery, and surprisingly, it was my great-grand uncle who passed away suddenly. After learning of his death, relatives immediately began reciting prayers and weeping openly. I recall how my parents, siblings and I sat there awkwardly, feeling out of place. The only other funeral I had attended at that point was at an American church; the service was subdued, and the following day everyone went back to work. On the other hand, when my great-grand uncle passed away, relatives took time off, made several tables worth of food, and spent days eating and sharing stories. I would remember that time again nearly ten years later, after getting a message that my grandfather had passed away. I read that message alone in my college dorm room, aware that I had work and class early the next day. I had to schedule time to cry. I told a classmate about my grandfather’s passing, and her reply was, “You seem to be grieving well.” What did that mean?

    Click here to read the rest of the story.

  • 01 May 2018 8:35 PM | Deleted user

    From the Spring 2018 issue of The Counselor:

    When my father died by suicide I was brought to my knees by overwhelming feelings of shock, disbelief, confusion, pain, guilt, anger, and love for him. 

    If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, you share something profound with others who have experienced this life-shattering event. You are forever a member of a group you never wanted to belong to...

    Click here to read the rest of the story.

  • 01 Feb 2018 11:13 AM | Deleted user

    At the ORCA Fall Conference, COPACT distributed a written history that explained how there was a fifteen year challenging journey for LPCs and LMFTs to receive insurance reimbursement, which was finally achieved in 2009 with the passage of our Practice Act. During the Conference, I was amazed by how many people told me they had no idea there was a time when LPCs on Oregon could not receive insurance reimbursement.

    Yes, for most of my career, I worked primarily on a cash basis. I chose to get a Masters in Counseling Psychology because I wanted the strongest clinical training I could find. I knew I would not receive insurance payments, but I assumed we would fix that later. It turned out to be much later. Please never take for granted how challenging it was for LPCs and LMFTs to practice on a cash basis, and how hard we had to work to achieve insurance equality with other providers.  

    Earlier this year, I received a call from the President and President-elect of the Washington Mental Health Counselors Association. They wanted to talk with me about my experience as the President of the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association when we merged with the Oregon Counseling Association in 2013, which we did to cement stronger funding to pay for COPACT’s lobbyist. They told me that, after 20 years, WAMHCA had lost the ability to pay for a lobbyist. They said they were deeply worried about the future of Mental Health Counseling in Washington. I was surprised by what they said because WAMHCA had been a powerhouse in the Washington Legislature for a long time. For example, Washington Mental Health Counselors achieved the right to receive insurance payments long before we gained that in Oregon. 

    After I hung up the phone, I was worried. If it could happen in Washington, it could happen here. Once a professional organization becomes aware of how a state legislature works, it is a terrifying prospect to not have a lobbyist in the state capitol.  All kinds of bad things can happen if we do not have a lobbyist protecting us.  

    Why did WAMHCA lose its ability to pay for a lobbyist?  Simply because Washington Mental Health Counselors became complacent and stopped being members of WAMHCA. Their funding base shrunk and eventually they could not pay their lobbyist.  

    I fear we may be heading in the same direction in Oregon.  There are just over 3000 LPCs in Oregon. Only 331 are paying members of ORCA. There are just over 1000 LPC interns. Only 126 are members of ORCA. The way things are currently, only about 11% of potential members are in ORCA.

    Thanks to you for your commitment to ORCA. You are the ones who keep the train moving.  Where are the rest? I fear they are lost in complacency. They must assume somebody else will cover for them.  

    Psychologists and Social Workers are loyal to their professional organizations. The vast majority of them belong to their professional organizations, so their funding base for lobbying is secure. That makes them safe and effective in the legislature. They know how much their lobbyists do for them and their clients, and they sustain them by paying organizational dues.  

    So, this is what I invite all ORCA members to do: 

    Please ask your colleagues if they are members of ORCA. If they are not, inform them what ORCA does for them and tell them they are hurting themselves and their futures by not becoming members. Show them the history of COPACT. Tell them COPACT’s lobbyist is paid out of ORCA dues. Without increasing the number of ORCA members, we may be facing the same issue WAMHCA is to our north.

    Let’s nudge all of our friends to get out of complacency and into action. Let’s get out the word: we need more LPCs and LPC Interns in ORCA. Pass the word. Show them the COPACT History. Talk about the importance of attending the yearly Fall Conference and ORCA workshops like the upcoming Grief training. Keep passing the word…and don’t stop.  

  • 01 Feb 2018 11:11 AM | Deleted user

    Treatment of individuals and families affected by military experience requires a special set of sensitivities.  The military provides an environment outside mainstream culture.  Combat dramatically reduces the similarities to civilian life.  During military involvement the veteran may have been at life-time peak of responsibilities with valuable resources and life and death situations.

    Current combat settings have required most veterans and their families to survive multiple deployments.  Families with children are separated during important developmental stages.  The combatants return home to partners who have learned to take on increased responsibility for managing home and family. The veteran can begin to feel like a stranger and find themselves withdrawing and isolating from family and friends.   Each military and combat setting is unique as is the environment here at home.  The family and the veteran have unique, pre-existing coping strategies for dealing with change.  Readjustment work needs to pay attention to who is readjusting to what.

    Our job, as mental health workers, is to provide knowledgeable arenas for these people to explore the changing connections to one another.  The veteran living alone may believe it is easier to never be understood again.  The family member may begin to isolate.  Anxiety, depression and panic attacks are the issues they face most often.  Of course, even bigger problems will ensue when anger issues and/or chemical dependence problems develop.

    Beginning trainings to help you treat veterans and family members are provided by the Returning Veteran Project as well as consultation groups and peer support are also provided for our volunteers.  Our advanced and state of the art trainings help push your skills to take advantage of your unique approach to psychotherapy.  We have training relations with some of the most knowledgeable presenters in the world, as well as experts from the local community and the Portland/Vancouver VA Medical Centers.

    The Returning Veteran Project would love to have you on our team of mental health and somatic providers committed to our mission: To provide free health and wellness services to post-9/11 war zone veterans, service members and their families in our Oregon and Southwest Washington communities.
    For more information please visit us at

    Bill Maier, LCSW serves on the Board of Directors of the Returning Veterans Project and maintains a client-centered, developmentally informed private practice. He formerly created and supervised a program for the treatment of PTSD for the five tribes of the North Olympic Peninsula.

  • 01 Feb 2018 11:09 AM | Deleted user

    The year of 2018 is here, but somehow, everyday feels like it’s 1955. It has now been almost one whole year with a new administration, a new political climate, and new issues arising everyday. However, many of these issues have been all too familiar for many folks, and those issues are just coming to the surface for so many others. I’m talking about sexism. 

    With almost each day bringing “shocking” news of some male in power abusing women, folks are asking “Why didn’t she say anything for 10 years? Why does he have to lose his career? Do we even know if this is true?” (I write the word shocking in quotations because this news is nothing new for the folks who have experienced this.) It’s just another day of a man who happened to get in trouble. This is not the case for non-celebrities. Years and lifetimes go by without many women saying anything. And we wonder why. Maybe because we didn’t ask: “Is she ok? How can I help? What systemic and societal issues are at play with this? What am I doing to help or hinder this issue?”

    This is also certainly not the case when women of color come forward. There is still an imbalance of power in society in which women of different races are believed in different degrees with their sexual assault allegations. Even with the #MeToo campaign, we lost sight as a society that this movement was actually created in 2007 by woman of color Tarana Burke, and not a white celebrity.

    While there is controversy about the #MeToo campaign (feeling guilt if we don’t say something, feeling nervous that people will judge us if we come forward, wanting to stand up for women and share that it happens all too often, fear of normalizing and just “dealing with this part of society”), the helpful part was that the world realized that sexual harassment and sexism has happened to almost every woman unfortunately, and why it took so many disclosures to do so is not really progress, but this is the world we have for now, and progress can create change. 

    Many parents come into session and ask me questions from “Will this even harm them?” to “What can I do to protect my children from sexism in society?” As an advocate for youth in so many aspects of my career and life, I feel a duty and passion to work with youth on these topics because they are so impressionable with anything they hear, anything that is done or said  to them, and they are aware of what is going on in society (more aware than many folks give them credit for). 

    Is this the world you want for your kids?

    There are so many things that we can do as therapists, parents, and role models of youth today. We can teach (and model to) our clients the proper ways to communicate, discuss sexism in both subtle and overt ways, how to treat others respectfully, and how to spread the concept of equity. So, listen up, you awesome counselors! Below are some easy, useful ideas of what to talk to parents about, and what to model to your clients (of all genders, races, and ages). As we know, youth develop fast, so the sooner we start this, the better:

    -Instead of “gendering” things like toys, clothes, jobs, and activities, let kids play with toys they want to, rather than restrict their play and imagination to just pink or just blue (or what section of the store you found the toy in)

    -When asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, don’t start to give “gendered jobs” of the past, and start using terms like firefighter, instead of “fireman,” or flight attendant instead of “stewardess”, etc. 

    -Refrain from asking which “boys” or “girls” they think are cute in class because the language we use can send a heteronormative (non-accepting of non-straight couples) message

    -Avoid making jokes (even if you think your kid is out of earshot) about genders that are actually harmful (i.e. women belong in the kitchen jokes) or enabling unhealthy behaviors because of gender (“that’s just what boys do”), or making any racial jokes as this shows races being above each other (why I have to say this in 2018 is beyond me); this is actually a part of rape culture (Rape Culture & Sexism)

    -Teach that the word “no” is completely acceptable and they should use it when they want, especially when feeling uncomfortable. In fact, practice saying "no" more often because chances are, we sometimes don’t say “no” at the risk of hurting someone’s feelings or we want to be “polite” 

    -Teach and model healthy social boundaries: They don't have to hug people if they don't want to (and neither do you). Here is how to talk with kids about consent. Also, here is how to talk with older youth and adults about consent. Because unconscious does not mean consent, and sex is not to be expected for being nice or buying someone something

    -Explain that we don’t need to be or say “sorry” for things that aren't our fault, and don’t be ”sorry" because you think you are a burden (Ask yourself “why am I sorry?”). Teach to apologize for wrong-doings that are actually their fault

    -Understand and teach that it is completely acceptable for ALL humans to have feelings and express them (yes, I’m talking about crying — boys do it, too)

    -Do not victim blame. Don't ask what anyone was wearing if they have been assaulted, or what a woman’s financial standing was, or what ethnicity she was. This also includes not slut shaming. A person’s value has absolutely nothing to do with the number of sex partners they have. If you are confused about any of this language, look at any comments section of a news story about a woman coming forward about a male in power sexually abusing her

    -Do not body or fat shame (toward others, your kids, or yourself). Place value on other human characteristics and not just looks (intelligence, athleticism, musical talent, humor, goals, strengths, etc.). As therapists and parents, we also have to work on not shaming our own bodies either (kids and teens mimic what you do, not what you say)

    -Sexting: So many clients have told me how violating this feels. Teach youth that sending pictures of privates parts or mentioning private parts is assaultive and violates folks’ boundaries

    -Teach, model, and practice assertiveness— stand up for what you want, what you believe in, and what you will and will not accept from others

    -Even though this one feels scary, work to correct others when they behave in an oppressive way (anything mentioned above). Your future self and your children will thank you

    -Educate yourself and the youth around you on the Gender Wage Gap. Depending on when you read this article, for every $1.00 that white males make, white women are making about 77 cents, black women are making about 64 cents, and Latina women are making about 56 cents. Here is a video of kids explaining this concept— it so clearly shows that even with a wage gap, many of them think that women deserve this because that is what society has modeled

    -And last, but MOST importantly: Understand your own privilege and power in society.

    There are so many more ideas that we can utilize, but this article had to fit somehow! The main theme among these ideas is healthy modeling and starting it all right now. We can teach our kids 1,000,000 things, but what they learn comes from how they see us (and society) act and react

    If we work to better ourselves and strive for social justice and equity, our children will emulate this, and we can have hope for healthier generations to come. With powerful ideas, change can begin with people that believe in those ideas. 

    Now get out there and change the world! 

    Gianna Russo-Mitma, M.S., LMFT, is ORCA’s President Elect. She has a private practice in Portland working with teen girls and self-esteem, and co-parents after separation and divorce. She teaches various classes as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Portland and at Portland State University. 

The Oregon Counseling Association is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt trade association.

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