Log in

Donate to ORCA

Member Log In

Log in


  • 01 Nov 2017 10:28 PM | Deleted user

    Counseling the Person with Legal Blindness 

    by Deb Marinos, CRC, LPC Intern

    Imagine: your first consult with a new referral comes in, and they appear to be blind... but you can tell they’re not completely blind. You might feel uncomfortable asking questions or appearing to make assumptions about your new consult. I’m here to help.

    First, legal blindness is defined by the Social Security Administration as a state in which vision is “20/200 or worse in the best eye.” With correction (usually glasses) a person with legal blindness’s vision is fuzzy and labeled Low Vision. They cannot recognize faces or read standard print. You might see a previous diagnosis of Macular Degeneration or Diabetes.

    Some folks with slightly better vision can read and recognize faces; however they have great difficulty in moving around safely, finding objects and doorways. For these folks, you might find a previous diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa or Glaucoma.

    I’ve spent several years helping clients with various degrees of sightedness, and as a person dealing with sensory disability myself, I’d like to offer my colleagues some specific tips to help the counseling room be more accessible and help folks feel more connected to you.

    Transportation is by far the biggest challenge and frustration, especially for those who used to drive. For this reason, rigid policies about lateness and missed appointments will be problematic to the relationship if not managed compassionately. If folks need at the last minute to cancel their appointment because the bus is running late, a phone session might be something to consider.

    First: ask them! Do not assume. Accept clients’ stories of their unique sensory disability and its impacts. Each person has a unique experience and may feel discounted if not feel heard. Appearances can be misleading.

    Ask what makes them most comfortable in greetings. Do they want you to identify yourself? Can they find your door through the door verbally, or by handshake, or signs? What helps?

    Ask, ask, ask! Can they see the clock? Is the lighting hurting their eyes? What are they hearing? (they might be hearing the stress in your voice!). Chuckle when you smile, and make sounds when you are listening or showing compassion. Consider other senses.

    Consider describing the features of your office space. Consider where you place breakable objects – the holidays’ sudden onset of new items, often breakable, can be a minefield. What would it feel like to just give specific directions: “At your three o’clock, a small table sits two feet away from you.”

    Consider: can the client get out to the door out on their own? Will the therapist help – no matter what?

    Make it easy to request accommodations ongoing. Make forms accessible by sending by email or recording audio. You might consider getting a “Pen Friend” by RNIB – it’s an easy recording tool that lets you record to a sticker that can be played back by person with no sight with headphones. Print forms in larger fonts by request.

    Make it ok to clarify as often as needed. Imagine keeping track of your life in your head if you couldn’t write notes. Offer to record sessions on their smart phone. Offer a wide marker and 3x5 cards for notes.

    Thanks for your interest and concern for all of your clients.

    Deb Marinos, MS, CRC, LPC intern has worked with many clients with varying degrees of vision loss for several years. Her practice: Adaptability for Life, LLC provides interactive training for professionals who want to understand how to make their workplace accessible.

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:27 PM | Deleted user

    OACES Corner: Changing Campus Climate 

    by Joel Lane, LPC, Ph.D, ORCA President

    Photo by Gianna Russo-Mitma

    Given the focus on intersectionality in this special edition of The Counselor, I wanted to devote this OACES Corner to sharing some of my observations working in higher education over the past few years. I work as an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Portland State University, and in my four-plus years at PSU, I have witnessed some monumental shifts regarding campus climate and the overall university experience for students. There is a good chance you have heard about some of these shifts as well. There have been a multitude of think pieces in recent years about safe spaces, trigger warnings, and related concepts, with much of the coverage being negative (concerns generally involve free speech, coddling, etc.). I would like to take this opportunity to offer my perspective on why these changes are positive, important, and long overdue.

    While there is considerable debate about campus climate trends, there is greater consensus about inequities in higher education on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, ability, and mental health status. There is a wealth of data demonstrating that some groups have historically enjoyed greater access to higher education, as well as higher retention rates once enrolled. It is my firm belief – and also the consensus among education researchers – that these inequities are self-perpetuating. That is, given that dominant cultures have been overrepresented among college attendees, we should expect this same overrepresentation to exist among those providing education to college students (which is unequivocally the case; for a clear example look no further than the demographics among counselors as a whole versus the demographics of counselor educators). This overrepresentation among educators means that we can also expect an overrepresentation of dominant culture perspectives in higher education curricula, which in turn makes it more likely for students with dominant cultural identities to thrive in higher education, perpetuating a cycle that makes it disproportionately difficult for individuals with minoritized identities to enjoy hte upward mobility that comes from a college education.

    This brings us back to the topic of recent changes in the campus climate, which are being enacted in direct response to these inequalities. Providing safe spaces on campuses, for example, provides individuals with minoritized identities an opportunity to connect with their communities in an environment that is disproportionately comprised of non-minoritized individuals. It also makes it easier for these communities to organize and voice their experiences to the broader campus community. Similarly, despite the overwhelmingly negative public narrative around the issue of offering trigger warnings in class, doing so provides students with trauma histories or mental illnesses greater opportunity to learn and thrive in higher education.

    These types of provisions are important even in a community like Portland (in fact, perhaps even more so), which prides itself on its openness and acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Many Portlanders would be shocked to know the number of times students have confided in me about being harassed on campus due to their transgender identity, ability status, race, and/or sexual orientation. Sadly, this harassment comes not only from other students, but sometimes from other campus faculty and personnel.

    I see this issue as having implications for our counseling practice. Being a counselor has taught me time and again that all clients have different needs and perspectives, and part of what I love about our work is the creativity required of us to be responsive to diverse client perspectives. As an able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual white man, it is especially important for me to be open to feedback and perspectives from individuals with non-dominant multicultural identities, as without such feedback I am likely limiting my effectiveness as a counselor and as a counselor educator to clients and students who share my identities. I implore all counselors and counselor educators (myself included), regardless of identity status, to strive to better understand how our identities and experiences have shaped our values and worldviews, and to continually learn about the values and worldviews of those who hold identities different from our own.

    Joel Lane, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Portland State University. He provides supervision to registered interns and conducts research related to the mental health implications of emerging adulthood. He lives in Portland with his wife, Megan, son, Ari, and dog, Magglio. 

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:22 PM | Deleted user

    Between Worlds and Identities

    by Neil Panchmatia

    Immigration has been very much in the news recently. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are currently about 67.8 million forcibly displaced people around the world in need of immediate protection and assistance (UNHCR, 2017). Throughout the world, an unprecedented number of people continue to leave their home countries, either by choice (or degrees of choice) or by becoming forcibly displaced. Individuals and families are uprooted by social, political, and economic trauma – and too often, they are not well served by the current US system of mental health care.

    Since the early 1990s Oregon has become home to an influx of migration due to economic and political turmoil. Most Oregon refugees initially resettle in the greater Portland metro area; Portland currently ranks eleventh in US cities that resettle international refugees. According to the Oregon DHS, refugees come here from all over the world, prominently from the former USSR (Russia, Ukraine, and Bosnia), South Asia (Bhutan), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Burma), the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia), the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, and Syria), and Latin America (Cuba).

    Research on displaced individuals has shown that a group’s proximity (in terms of outward appearance, language and culture) to the dominant culture of its host country largely determines its ease of acceptance and integration (Colic-Peisker 2005). Refugees who appear as “other” to the dominant racial/cultural group in a historically homogenous state such as Oregon often suffer a more negative experience around their resettlement. Displaced peoples from East Africa or the Middle East, for instance, live on the peripheries of society and are often segregated (physically as well as culturally). On the other hand, refugee groups such as Russians and Ukrainians that settle in Oregon can experience proximity in terms of skin color to the

    dominant culture, and have therefore enjoyed a relatively easier integration.

    The effects of displacement are well-understood: the trauma resulting from the loss of one’s home, loved ones, and community follows individuals and families all the way to one’s new life in a host country (Marlowe 2010). Such trauma often exacerbates the problematic expectations that you’ll adjust to life in the US as quickly as possible. Most support services here are discontinued within nine months. Refugees are expected to become self-sufficient almost immediately upon arrival by a capitalist system that mythologizes bootstrap-pulling at the expense of general well being (Tyson 2017). Other vital needs such as mental health care are ignored. A preponderance of refugees experience PTSD and similar effects of trauma which go undiagnosed and untreated due to the myriad barriers to accessible care. In Portland, a handful of immigrant and refugee support organizations (e.g., Lutheran Community Services) have stepped up to provide counseling services – yet barriers remain.

    In working with forcibly displaced individuals, counselors may be tempted to prioritize one aspect of identity over more immediate concerns. While the experience of displacement is central, and the resulting trauma there is an important locus of concern in treatment planning, this limiting focus misses the mark in understanding the individual holistically. It is necessary to explore and include other salient components of these clients’ “hyphenated hybridities” toward creating a successful therapeutic alliance (Asghari-Fard & Hossain 2017).

    Research shows that immigrants and refugees maneuvering arrival and adjustment in host cultures do so primarily by constructing and negotiating their identity (Asghari-Fard & Hossain 2017).

    The result is a new, hybrid identity that consists of values, labels and roles that are emphasized differently in different settings. A Somali American would likely identify more as “Muslim” over “Somali” in a mosque setting, more as “Somali” within a community cultural organization, and more as “American” while engaging in civic activities such as voting or running for office. All three intersections of American, Muslim, and Somali are otherwise equally important intersections of identity: they are simply prioritized and performed as the situation demands. Adjustment to life in the US is an ongoing process, one without a finite end, and each individual experiences life between the currents of culture uniquely: constructing and negotiating her/ his/their identity independently and collectively with the larger community.

    In Portland’s Somali community, for instance, identity intersections begin at the individual level and expand out to the societal level. For example, some intersections a Somali-American can have include: being female, black, African, immigrant, Muslim, queer, and differently abled. Identity is uniquely formed and negotiated by each individual. Identity, furthermore, informs the social roles an individual adopts. These social roles are an indication of which aspects of their identity are important to them and to what degree: a Somali woman, for instance, takes on the role of establishing an informal peer-counseling group within the local community in order to support women experiencing domestic violence (which trauma research shows is exacerbated as a result of the displacement experience). She hosts this group within the mosque, which has taken on the role of confronting domestic violence within the broader Muslim community, and so provides her necessary resources. She then may decide to go to graduate school and study counseling, so that she can continue to give back to her community by providing mental health services. She understands that Somali women prefer to work with other women when seeking mental health care. She also understands that needing and

    seeking care carries a deeply embedded stigma within her community, and that individuals are hesitant to seek help. She understands that different sub- groups within her community have very different needs: the elders, youth, men, women, queer individuals, people with disabilities and people from different waves of immigration to Portland. She also understands that while she knows her culture and the experiences of her people best, her audience may be reluctant to see her for services because she is “too close to home” in a collectivistic community where reputations and social perceptions matter. Consequently, she decides to partner up with Lutheran Community Services as a “cultural broker” within the Somali community to start up a culturally responsive counseling program.

    Take the pressure off the client to educate the counselor.

    Mental health professionals should attempt to explore and understand the intersections of identity (or the hyphenated hybridities) of their clients while engaging in cultural humility. A respectful curiosity should be projected within counseling sessions, which creates a safe and brave space for exploration and expression of different intersections of identity. This space should also be designed to take the pressure off of the client to “educate” the counselor. Counselors should enter a session having done their homework and having some basic background information on the cultural and historical background of their clients (a quick Google search, for instance, can reveal so much about Somalia).

    Displaying basic contextual knowledge about a client’s background in session (not cultural assumptions or stereotypes) can be an encouraging experience for clients and can facilitate a deeper exploration of identities.

    The goal, within therapy, is to fully empower clients who have experienced the trauma of displacement and are maneuvering the additional stressors of culture shock, marginalization and other barriers to successful adjustment to life in the US. By creating and maintaining a therapeutic alliance and space that intentionally accommodates and celebrates all intersections of identity, mental health professionals will be able to cross cultural divides and provide the critical care and support needed. In today’s socio-political climate that “others” refugees and migrants and further pushes them to the fringes of society, this deliberate therapeutic intervention of culturally responsive care is nothing short of an act of much-needed social justice activism by helping professionals.


    Asghari-Fard, M., & Hossain, S. Z. (2017). Identity construction of second- generation Iranians in Australia: influences and
    Social Identities, 23(2), 126–145.

    Hardwick SW, & Meacham JE. “Placing” the refugee diaspora in Portland, Oregon: Suburban expansion and densification in a re-emerging gateway. In: Singer A, Hardwick S, Brettell C, editors. Twenty-first century gateways: Immigrant incorporation in suburban America. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press; 2008. pp. 225–256.

    Colic-Peisker, V. (2005). “At Least You”re the Right Colour’: Identity and Social Inclusion of Bosnian Refugees in Australia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(4), 615–638.

    Marlowe, J. M. (2010). Beyond the Discourse of Trauma: Shifting the Focus on Sudanese Refugees. Journal of Refugee Studies, 23(2), 183-198.

    Tyson, C. (2017). Towards a new framework for integration in the US, (February), 48-49.

    Neil Panchmatia is a graduate student in counseling at PSU. He is from Kenya and wants to work with immigrant and refugee populations, and is also keen on continuing to work with other marginalized groups in Oregon, including racial/ ethnic and gender/sexual minorities as well as individuals with disabilities.

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:20 PM | Deleted user

    It’s Intimidating and Important... So Let’s Talk About It 

    by Gianna Russo-Mitma, MS, LMFT, ORCA President-Elect

    Diversity and inclusivity have been in continual conversation within the Oregon Counseling Association, even more so since the change in our country within the last year. With our current President Joel Lane’s vision for our organization, ORCA’s critical goals have focused more on honoring diversity, connecting with more counselors of various backgrounds, and standing up for equity and equality (in small and large ways).

    To get this started within ORCA, the organization’s newsletter, The Counselor (what you are reading right now), asked for articles on diversity, inclusivity, intersectionality, and advocacy. Articles poured in on so many amazing topics from people of all backgrounds – we were thrilled to hear from ORCA members who may have been less vocal in the past! We are so proud of you all for stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking the leap to write for us on such a major topic!

    In my honest opinion, it's daunting to write about diversity as a white, cisgender female (as it should be, as I have admittedly faced much less oppression than other folks). While even trying to write this article, I've been nervously thinking, "What if people think I don't grasp what is happening?" Or wondering if people will say, "This white girl has no clue.” It’s scary to engage in discussions, because truly, I don't fully understand what it's like to be a person of color, or a member of the LGBTQIA community, or part of many marginalized groups; I can only empathize, listen, learn, and be the ally that I am. It is intimidating to engage in discussions like this, but in order to get anything accomplished for this important matter, we have to be uncomfortable, accept that we will make mistakes (then learn from them), pay attention to others’ experiences, and validate.

    I’m thinking: What if people think I don’t grasp what is happening? Or wondering if people will say, This white girl has no clue.

    Intersectionality is defined as the “complex way in which multiple forms of discrimination overlap in the experiences of marginalized folks” (Merriam-Webster). We talk about privilege with topics such as race, gender, citizenship status, and sexuality in mind. We easily forget that other privileges exist (i.e. ability, economic status, education, religion, genetics). With fall’s edition of The Counselor centered on intersectionality, I would like to talk about this topic from my personal experiences. I will preface my article with this: I cannot even fathom what it feels like to be in deeper marginalized groups.

    I am a plus size female with asthma. When you read this, you may construct a quick judgment about me or the groups I belong to, you may have your own thoughts on it all, and you may even disagree that these attributes belong to “less privileged” groups. From my unique and individual experience (as these conversations are), I have faced challenges with these qualities, but probably nowhere near the challenges that others have faced for identities such as race, citizenship status, etc.

    My first memory of being “different” because I had asthma was in elementary school during a (rare) snow day in Las Vegas. All the kids were allowed to go outside at recess and play it in, except the kids with asthma or other health conditions, who were required to stay in the multipurpose room. This marked the first time that I realized I was different from other kids, because until that point, I wasn’t. When P.E. became a required class, I was the kid that had to have a note from their parent that said I couldn't do certain things, and when the teachers forgot your letter from the first day of school, you'd have to mention it to them weekly.

    Each time we had to run the mile, I was allowed to walk it, but then this created the "us and them" scenario, where I was one of the slow/fat/asthmatic/unhealthy/[enter any negative adjective here] kids. It always felt odd and uncomfortable.

    My most recent experience of being told I could not do something due to this health issue was on vacation this summer. After planning for weeks, we decided to sign up for an underwater Caribbean Sea Trek. When we arrived, lo and behold, if you have anything on their medical list (asthma included) you are NOT allowed to do this activity. It is an awful feeling to be reduced to a label, told you’re not allowed. It is an oddly emotional experience. Aside from emotional stuff like this, having asthma (or any chronic health condition) is a huge nuisance. I have to use a Nebulizer (a really invasive machine with tubes and a mouthpiece), and I am always on the go with my inhalers (home, purse, car, etc).

    Considering these turbulent political and societal times (and beyond these times): pause, take a step back, and listen to others' stories. Don't make assumptions. Keep an open mind. Ask questions. Mistakes are how we learn. I would much rather someone ask me questions than assume things about me. And if I, or others, don't feel like answering questions, we won't. Be open to constructive criticism and being educated on topics. Be aware that no one knows everything, including you. I learn things every single day from others, and it's beautiful.

    In conjunction with ORCA's movement to honor diversity and create more discussions like this, our conference theme is “The Constant of Change: Ethical Counseling Embracing Diversity” which starts THIS WEEK on November 2-4 in Tigard. Register here.

    We can, and we will, make society a better place – it just has to start with a conversation together.

    Gianna Russo-Mitma, M.S., LMFT, is ORCA’s President Elect. She has a practice in Portland working with teen girls and self esteem, and co- parents after separation and divorce. Gianna also works with foster care youth, doing mental health assessments at DHS. She is also the lead counselor for Clear Transitions PDX and teaches at University of Portland and at Portland State University as an Adjunct Professor. 

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:17 PM | Deleted user

    Weight-Inclusive Care by Hilary Kinavey, LPC

    Body shame and dissatisfaction are a common concern in psychotherapy offices. Therapists are in a unique position to name and dispel myths regarding weight and body size with their clients. Unfortunately, many therapists do not feel adequately trained nor do they fully understand the impact of sizism on the lives of their clients.

    Those of us who have worked in the disordered eating and body dissatisfaction corner of the mental health world know something that we wish everyone knew: there is no weight loss prescription, weight change suggestion or diet that is psychologically benign. Clinically and culturally, we fail to name and acknowledge the impact of weight stigma on us all. People large and small are often hustling for weight and body change and have their worthiness bound up in the pursuit. All too often, weight change is mistakenly seen as a possible and helpful intervention for clients who live in larger bodies or who feel dissatisfied with the bodies they are in.

    It is very true that diets do not work. This is true for fad- diets, plans sold as “lifestyle changes”, and medically prescribed plans. In fact, 95% of diets fail, though often not initially. Typically, dieters regain weight at 2-5 years post diet. This is such a predictable occurrence that we must ask why it is we more commonly blame the individual than the diets or plans themselves? To avoid further harm, it is necessary to consider what could be possible in the lives and wellbeing of our clients if we located weight concern outside of the individual and named it as a cultural concern or mandate? When we critically evaluate the data, what we find is that the evidence that weight is even a risk factor is, at best, incomplete and contradictory. Here are the links to a few research articles critically evaluating weight science and offering data to support a weight-inclusive model of care:

    Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm

    The amount of weight bias in the literature (and therefore the medical community) is astounding. Health and mental health care providers must become critical reviewers of the research to provide safe and ethical services. Many studies finding a correlation between weight and health have not controlled for things like SES, weight cycling, fitness, stigma, oppression, trauma, and more. Correlation is different than causation.

    Conversations about inclusion and social justice do not commonly include sizism and fatphobia. It is commonplace to believe that a little shame and public humiliation can provide catalyst for change – something we all know to be false about the change process. The truth? Fat people have always existed and will continue to. This is not an abomination or culture gone wrong. But it is an intersection. Fat people are less likely to be believed, trusted, treated (medically) and hired. Add intersections of race, ability, gender expression, and the injustice multiplies.

    Consider who told you that people can and should lose weight.

    Consider who taught you that people can and should lose weight. Check out the $60 billion+ industry that thrives on this and then research alternative approaches such at Health at Every Size® and Body Trust®. Look deeply into this. You will unearth more freedom for yourself perhaps. But do this for equity, truth and justice. Do this for your clients who expect you to collude with the problem of their body. Do this in the name of wellbeing and liberation.

    Hilary Kinavey, LPC is the cofounder of Be Nourished, a revolutionary business that helps people heal body dissatisfaction and reclaim body trust. The Be Nourished Training Institute offers training for helping professionals who want to move towards weight-safe and inclusive care. You may also find them on Facebook.

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:15 PM | Deleted user

    Making It Visible
    by Raina Hassan, LPC, ORCA Past President

    When I heard the upcoming issue of the ORCA newsletter was going to focus on intersectionality, I was both excited and frightened. I was excited because I knew I wanted to write about this topic; I was frightened because I’d never done so before and to embark on such a task—publicly—meant I would likely feel vulnerable in this new experience. But, as a therapist, I often encourage my clients to lean toward new experiences with courage and wholeheartedness, and since I try whenever possible to embody these attributes, I decided to volunteer to write about growing up a biracial woman. For clarity, let me explain that my mother is a white American and my father is a Lebanese-born Palestinian who emigrated to this country as a young man in the 1970s and later became a naturalized US citizen.

    Prior to writing this article, most of what I’d come to understand about my experiences in the world relating to race and gender I’d seen as separate issues. I’ve thought quite a lot about how I’ve been challenged in the world as a woman, and I’ve thought quite a lot about my challenges as a mixed-race person. But, when I see the two together (which is the brilliant value of intersectionality), it shifts the frame of my experiences in a way that highlights the lived experience of these factors in concert. By the way, if you would like more clarity on what the term intersectionality means, Kimberlé Crenshaw, who created the term, offers an inspiring TED Talk (click here to view; trigger warning).

    I’ll illustrate how I experience intersectionality by telling you about some of my experiences.

    When I was in junior high, the first Gulf War was happening. We had televisions in the classrooms, and the name Saddam Hussein was frequently mentioned. Because I have had the immense privilege of being born with white skin, most people would only become aware I was mixed race when they would either inquire about my last name or when they would meet my father (or sometimes at the end of summer, after I’d gotten a lot of sun exposure). Prior to the first Gulf War, my name was difficult for most everyone in my small town to pronounce correctly, but suddenly, it became a target in a new way. A few of my classmates began to chide me with questions like, “Hey, is Saddam Hussein your uncle?” At other times, a specific racial epithet for Middle Eastern folks was uttered to me—in the guise of a joke, of course.

    Sometimes, the racism was not at all disguised with humor. Like the time my family was picketing in front of a movie theater to protest the stereotyped depictions of Arabs in a movie that was showing, and a man in a truck drove by and yelled, “Go back to Saudi Arabia!” (My family is not from Saudi Arabia, by the way, but that’s beside the point.) Or the many prank calls we received over the years, ranging from “jokes” to outright threats. And I won’t even go into the hours upon hours my family and I have wasted being detained in airports.

    So, how did I respond to these experiences? From the jokes to the threats and everything in between, I reacted in pretty much the same way: I got small. I went silent. In therapist speak, I went into a freeze response. Sometimes, as a kid, I would laugh in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort. But as I got older, I learned to go silent and wait it out. What I didn’t do was fight back. What I didn’t do was stand up for myself and call the behavior out—not even the perennial microaggression many biracial people hear: “What are you?”

    Over time and with a lot of effort, I have been able to break out of the freeze response at times. But always, I can feel the familiar urge to get small and silent. Perhaps I can attribute my freeze response, at least in part, to nature or temperament.

    But when seen through the lens of intersectionality, it becomes pretty clear to me that if I had been male, I would have been much more likely to speak up or fight back, as we know that by and large the fight response is often covertly and overtly encouraged in boys and men. As women, we often learn to keep ourselves safe by being quiet, invisible, non-threatening.

    If I had fought back, the fallout from these experiences would likely have been much different than it has been for me. Perhaps I would have gotten into physical altercations at school and on the street. This, no doubt, would have negatively impacted my grades and academic standing. Maybe I would have attempted revenge on those I suspected of the prank calls. This may have gotten me in trouble with the law. Certainly, talking back to the TSA would have carried some hefty circumstances. If I had been a biracial man in these circumstances, perhaps the fallout would have been more visible, more external, mirroring my more externalized reactions to the racism. And when seen through the lens of intersectionality, I can see how my entire

    life may have played out quite differently. But as a biracial woman, I have glided through the educational system—and many social systems—with ease. But the burden had to get absorbed somewhere, and there has been a fallout. But it has been invisible, internal, somatic.

    It occurs to me that by writing about this intersecting experience of race and gender, I have made it visible. And it also occurs to me that writing is a form of fight and protest that I believe is healing. I was telling a friend about my process of writing this article and that it ended up being well over twice the target word count. “You must have had a lot to say,” she noted. Indeed.

    Often, I will encourage my clients to write when they are angry or sad, or both. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to practice that suggestion here, in my own life, with all of you. Thank you for participating in it with me.

    Raina Hassan, LPC, is the past president of the Oregon Counseling Association. She works in private practice in Portland.

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:13 PM | Deleted user

    President’s Message

    ORCA leadership has been hard at work preparing for our annual conference, which is quickly approaching! This year’s conference theme is The Constant of Change: Ethical Counseling Embracing Diversity. We are delighted to welcome Summer Brown, LMFT, and Dr. David Kaplan as this year’s keynote speakers. Ms. Brown is a leader in providing LGBTQI+ mental health treatment, while Dr. Kaplan is the American Counseling Association’s Chief Professional Officer and an expert on ACA’s code of ethics for counseling professionals. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge with you.

    As this is my first newsletter address as ORCA President, I want to take the opportunity to thank you all for electing me to lead this major rebranding effort that led to ORCA receiving the 2017 Best Innovative Practice Award from the ACA Western Region. I am thankful for Raina’s leadership and the mentorship she has provided to me in assuming the role of ORCA President.

    In addition to the Innovative Practice award, this summer we received ACA's 5 Star Branch Award. Gianna Russo-Mitma accepted the award for ORCA while attending the ACA Institute for Leadership Training in Washington D.C. While in D.C., Gianna spent a day on Capitol Hill meeting with congressional leaders, advocating for issues important to the counseling profession, including legislation that would authorize counselors to be reimbursed through Medicare.

    Recently, we hosted a networking picnic for ORCA members and their families. It was wonderful having the opportunity to meet some of you there and to introduce you to my wife Megan and newborn son Ari. I would like to thank our Networking Committee Chair, Sue Ujvary, and the rest of the Networking Committee for all of their work
    in planning such a fun event. Thank you Networking Committee for all that you 
    in planning such a fun event. Thank you Networking Committee for all that you do to help connect our counseling community!

    This edition of The Counselor focuses on issues related to intersectionality in the counseling profession. This topic is deeply important to our work, as cultivating awareness of our own identities and values is an ongoing process all counselors can and should engage in to be more responsive to the identities and values of the clients we serve. I am passionate about addressing treatment disparities in mental health services. One of my primary goals as President is for ORCA to provide leadership and, ultimately, positive change for this issue. It is my hope that the articles in this issue of The Counselor will help us all think more about the dynamic relationships we have with power and privilege, and the work we can do both internally and externally to better respond to the needs of our clients, ourselves, and our community.

    Joel Lane, Ph.D, LPC, NCC

    President, Oregon Counseling Association 

  • 01 Nov 2017 10:10 PM | Deleted user

    All Perpetrators, All Victims: Some Reflections on Intersectionality

    by Victor Chang, PhD, LPC

    Intersectionality allows us to understand our various social identities, which are often associated with both privilege and oppression. Understanding this dynamic is crucial to informing our clinical and social justice work. We can start by acknowledging our own experience.

    As a boy, I experienced the privilege that comes from being a straight, cisgender male. Growing up in the 1970s as a son of Korean immigrants, however, I also experienced both overt prejudice and, more frequently, microaggressions. The classic began with “Where are you from?” and continued towards the inevitable insinuation that I couldn’t be “from here” or “American.” Sometimes, to get along, I would appear to shrug off slights aimed at immigrants who others perceived as “fresh off the boat.” I quietly demonstrated that my English was flawless – I was one of them. I remember feeling ashamed when clerks “struggled” to understand my mother’s non-native English. The pride I felt in passing as an all-American kid with my Little League games, “American” friends and other “non-Korean” interests would be intermittently shattered when someone else treated me as “other” or a “foreigner.” It was my privilege alongside my oppressions, arising from my intersecting identities that got me through those difficult times.

    In school, I experienced the positive stereotypes associated with being the “the model minority.” At the same time, I wondered what part of my success or personality was me and what was due to other influences. Was my dislike of math or science, my party animal persona really me or just my reaction against the stereotype? In college, I began to grasp my complex

    multicultural upbringing and the number it had done on me... and I grew from shame towards self- acceptance. Simultaneously, I began to glimpse how removed my social identities were from the “enlightened liberal” stance I’d assimilated. There’s nothing wrong with my stances, except that my critical consciousness was not yet involved. My overlapping identities and my role as a counselor were not yet integrated.

    As a mental health counselor on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, I thought I had a good biopsychosocial perspective on the traumas affecting my clients. I thought I understood Navajo culture and the historical effects of oppression on the Navajo. I also was participating in protests against the Black Mesa coal mine on tribal lands. Although the coalition was tribal members and (mostly white) environmentalists... I never connected my clinical work with my protesting. I must have had as clients some families whose lands were impacted. My clinical and social justice efforts could have been integrated and genuinely client- centered as my protesting would have been “work with” and not just “work on behalf of.”

    With an intersectional lens, I can integrate my multiple social identities, their associated privileges and oppressions, and how they ebb and flow over time and contexts. In college, I wrestled incompletely with the words of Juan Moreno who said “when it comes to oppression, we’re all perpetrators and we’re all victims,” but now I understand more deeply and can act more consciously. Society has changed, even as it remains stagnant. I no longer hide my love of kimchi - now I get to relish Korean food’s momentary hipness!

    Victor Chang, Ph.D, LPC is an assistant professor of psychology and clinical mental health counseling at Southern Oregon University. His clinical and research interests include: the therapeutic alliance (common factors), integrative approaches to psychotherapy, and trauma treatment. He can be reached at:

  • 24 Jun 2017 1:39 PM | Support Coordinator (Administrator)

    The special election period has ended, and the results are in.  Gianna Russo-Mitma will be ORCA's next President Elect!

    Thank you all for voting and we wish the best to Gianna in her new role. She's been an amazing member of ORCA's board for the past few years and so I'd like to think of it as not losing a Communications Chair, but gaining a President Elect.

    The swearing in will happen on our July 22nd board meeting.

  • 03 Apr 2017 7:05 PM | Support Coordinator (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA) Elections!

    Drum roll please…..

    President Elect: Chad Ernest

    Chad Ernest in an LPC in Oregon and owner and main counselor for Sunny Sky Counseling, LLC. He is a member of Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) and the American Counselors Association (ACA). Before this position, Chad was on the board of Oregon Counseling Association (ORCA) as the Policy and Advocacy Chair and President of the Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy (COPACT). He holds a B.S. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received in 2000, an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling, and a Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Capella University received in March 2011. Chad believes in a client/family centered approach with collaboration in treatment between the counselor and client/family. His goal of counseling overall is wellness and/or reconciliation with one’s self, family and the community, and he believes in incorporating various theories into his practice to suit the needs of clients. 

    Personally, Chad would like to add: I am married to a wonderful woman who is my main support in all my ventures. We have a ten-year-old son and have fostered other children.  I have two dogs (Sunny and Sky) (ah! the name of my practice), two cats (Madison and Sherlock).  I love to snowboard, read, write, camp, hike play video games, go for walks, watch anime, spend time with family and friends, and ride my motorcycle.


    Secretary: Mitch Elovitz

    Mitch Elovitz has been an LPC in Oregon since 2004. He has been an outpatient therapist since 2001, post Masters degree, and he has a specialty in DBT and CBT. Mitch also has experience in administrative work and supervisory work. Mitch has served on two other boards as secretary and soon as president. 

    Personally from Mitch: I really enjoy being involved in organizations and working with people on projects. I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, watching baseball, walking my dogs, running, camping, eating, reading, getting massage, socializing, and just being involved and an active participant in life!

    Please welcome them to their new positions and we look forward to having them serve! 

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

Join our Google Group Listserv (ORCA members only)

Oregon Counseling Association 
(503) 722-7119 
PO Box 2163 Portland, OR 97208

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software