American Counseling Association

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American Counseling Association
American Counseling Association logo.png
HeadquartersAlexandria, Virginia, United States
S. Kent Butler
Main organ
Counseling Today

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is a membership organization representing licensed professional counselors (LPCs), counseling students, and other counseling professionals in the United States. It is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors.[1]

The nonprofit organization serves more than 55,000 members from various practice settings, including mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, addictions and substance use disorder counseling, school counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and career and employment counseling. Counseling professors and students are also represented.

Its stated mission is to "enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity".[2]

The association headquarters is located in Alexandria, Virginia.[3]


Former headquarters of the American Personnel and Guidance Association in Washington, D.C.

The group was founded in 1952[4] as the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA), formed by the merger of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA), the National Association of Guidance and Counselor Trainers (NAGCT), the Student Personnel Association for Teacher Education (SPATE), and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). The American Personnel and Guidance Association changed its name to the American Association of Counseling and Development (AACD) in 1983. On July 1, 1992, the association adopted its current name.[5]

ACA presidents are elected by association membership for a one-year term. A full list of ACA presidents, 1952 to the present, can be found here:

Branches and divisions[edit]

There are 20 chartered divisions[6] within the American Counseling Association. These divisions provide leadership, resources and information unique to specialized areas and/or principles of counseling. Divisions are chartered by ACA elect division officers who govern their activities independently and carry a voice in national ACA governance. Members enhance their professional identity and practice by joining one or more divisions. ACA has 56 chartered branches in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.


ACA publishes books, journals and other educational materials on counseling topics.[7] The organization's flagship magazine, Counseling Today,[8] is published once a month and sent to all ACA members via U.S. mail.

ACA Takes a Stand[edit]

In 2016, ACA moved its 2017 San Francisco Conference & Expo from Nashville, Tennessee to San Francisco, California after Tennessee's legislature passed a discriminatory bill, HB 1840/SB 1556, targeting members of the LGBTQ community and others. The bill allowed counselors in Tennessee to turn clients away based on "strongly held principles.'" "The legislation 'denies services to those most in need, targets the counseling profession' and violates the ACA's code of ethics, the group said."[9]

"Tennessee's governor, Republican Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on April 27, insisting it was not meant to be discriminatory. But opponents said the law permits therapists and counselors to deny treatment to gay, lesbian, transgender and other patients. After Haslam signed the bill, ACA members debated the issue and decided not to hold the meeting in Tennessee. Officials said the association received bids from 13 cities after deciding to nix Nashville, but chose San Francisco as 'the best choice and ... an inclusive and inviting city' for its members."[9]


  1. ^ "About ACA". American Counseling Association.
  2. ^ "Our Mission & Strategic Plan". ACA: About us.
  3. ^ "Contact Us". Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  4. ^ "History (Dr. Pope Welcomes You)". University of Missouri - St. Louis. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Our History". ACA: Our History.
  6. ^ "Divisions Regions and Branches". ACA Divisions.
  7. ^ "Overview". ACA Publications.
  8. ^ Counseling Today Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ a b Rauber, Chris (June 16, 2016). "Convention moves from Nashville to S.F. over anti-LGBT legislation". Retrieved August 23, 2018.

External links[edit]