Catch up

Utah's Mental Health Counselors regularly do great things. If you have an article you would like to share with your fellow clinicians, contact the UMHCA president or the web administrator to have your article posted. Follow our resources available to you.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
  • 29 Sep 2018 8:24 AM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    A new newly published book for the public, Key Core Beliefs, has been written Gray Otis, PhD, LCMHC, and Sandi Williams, MS, MA, LMFT. They are both Members of the board of the Utah Mental Health Counselors Association. The book focuses on resolving the negative self-beliefs that often arise from difficult relationships and distressing experiences. The book has a section for mental health professionals there is more information

  • 22 Aug 2018 4:04 PM | Jim Macedone (Administrator)

    (written by someone who doesn't need to join UMHCA)
    by Dennis Tucker, LCSW

    I am a member of UMHCA. In fact, I am the secretary serving under the current president of UMHCA. I also happen to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who never envisioned himself as becoming a member of UMHCA. How I came to be a member is a compelling story and one which may convince you, a mental health counselor of varying degrees, whether a student of the Masters of Mental Health Counseling program, a recent graduate and now an Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor (ACMHC), or a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC), may also want to join.

    First, it is important that I acknowledge something. Your graduate mental health counseling program is better than mine. I went to undergraduate school and attained my Bachelors of Science (BS) in Psychology. I then had to make a choice of which route to go to be able to counsel individuals, couples, and families. At the time (1992), I perceived there were only two choices: 1) to pursue a PhD in Psychology or 2) to become a clinical social worker. I chose the 'poor man's PhD in Psychology' route, which was to become a social worker. I then loaded up my gear and headed to the University of Kansas, which runs a highly respected graduate Social Work Program.

    The post graduate training lasted two years of full time course work, and included two year-long practicums. However, during the first year, I almost decided to drop out of the program. I did this because I felt I went to the wrong planet, not just the wrong school. You see, I wanted to become a therapist to deal with mental health issues, and instead I seemed to be surrounded by social activists who thought I was inherently evil for choosing the counseling path. The entire first year of my graduate social work program had the sole purpose to convince me that the counseling side of social work was, at best, a necessary evil. The great evil of private practice was completely frowned upon and those who chose that route were judged as corrupt, capitalistic, and morally bankrupt. Anyone who wanted to 'make money' in social work was considered to be akin to a corporate mogul who surrounded him or herself with piles of other people's money, money which he or she had no right to. Greed was seen as the only motivation that one could have in choosing to pursue the clinical social work route. Accordingly, after a few first initial painful encounters, I learned to keep my head low and my mouth closed. There were others who felt similar to me and, on occasion, we would silently head nod to each other, but that was about all we could do. In the entirety of my first year, I never received any clinical training at all. It was disheartening!

    The next year was much better, primarily because, after the first year, social workers had to make a choice to go one way or the other: to follow the true faith of 'administrative social work' (including activism) or to choose the fallen path of 'clinical social work'. I chose the fallen path. But, in so doing, I then learned the clinical methodologies and the various theories of counseling practice, things I had been exposed to in my undergraduate psychology pursuit. However, I was deficient in learning about psychometric testing, pharmacological training and conducting evaluations, including mental status exams. Recently, my deficiency was painfully brought to my awareness as I pursued becoming a Certified Forensic Mental Health Evaluator (CFMHE). I had to have 'remedial' training in the mental status examination portion of the evaluation as I had never been exposed to it in my graduate work, nor in any continuing education requirements I obtained thereafter. In my graduate coursework, I did do research and statistics classes, but those things definitely had no appeal to me as I just wanted to counsel. I at last graduated and I went my own way. I was glad I stayed on in my school, and I finally felt that I had attained the knowledge to be a counselor.

    I later learned through the experience of others that the graduate school for mental health counselors has two full years of counseling coursework and training. My wife, Julie Tucker, the current president of UMHCA, went through the mental health counseling program at the University of Phoenix. She shared her very different experience with me. She obtained the education in psychometric testing. She also received other training and has provided the foundation which I was not able to receive with my single year of clinical focus. It was obvious to me that her graduate training was superior, which I didn't think much about till later.

    Secondly, I think it’s important to point out that, despite your superior clinical training, my LCSW is much more widely accepted and regarded than your LCMHC. I have perhaps known this to some degree for quite some time, though I never thought much about it. I got what I wanted and had established my own private practice (16 years after my graduate program) and I was willing to live and let live. I knew that most, if not all, states recognized my degree and licensure. I knew that an LCSW was accepted by nearly all insurance companies and was considered on par with psychologists in the realm of counseling. I had heard through the grape vine that LCMHCs didn't have the same regard, but that didn't bother me. I was set, and they were not. It was just a fact of life and didn't directly concern me. However, all that was to change.

    In 2014, Julie and I opened up New Beginnings Evaluations and pursued child custody evaluations. Having had experience in the court evaluation and treatment world through prior business endeavors, we figured it was a next logical step in the right direction. That's when things fell apart for us – all because my wife was an LCMHC. We had done prior custody evaluations with no problem, but we met with one particular lawyer who didn't like the proposed custody recommendation. She then subpoenaed our records, which due to ethical issues with releases and copyrights of testing materials, we denied her. She said that all other custody evaluators had surrendered ALL their obtained records and demanded that we did so as well. We were insistent in our denial as a judge had not ordered the records to be unlocked. As a result, the lawyer pursued us legally and challenged the evaluation saying, because Julie was a CMHC, that the evaluation was invalid. The lawyer's challenge was upheld by a judge, who couldn't find that LCMHCs were included in the state's legal terminology as being a recognized mental health professional. As a result, the evaluation business we had set up came to an abrupt halt. Legally, despite better training and preparation, she could no longer do custody evaluations and currently neither can any LCMHC until such a time as UMHCA prevails to overturn the decision with the Utah Supreme Court.

    That's when she decided to join UMHCA. Later I followed as I have two adult children who have also chosen to follow the mental health counselor path. I figured I would help secure their future, by helping mental health counselors to become recognized for what their training allows them to do.

    Lastly, after over two decades as an LCSW, I finally see the purpose behind what social work is doing by going the administrative and activist route. Not only is social work active in improving the lives of the disadvantaged through community outreach and political activism, they have uniquely set themselves up to administrate for their own professional interests. That was the whole purpose behind the entire first year of my graduate social work program! Social workers are great at securing their own futures by being active in politics and in the insurance and Medicaid/Medicare realms. They have a greater presence than even psychologists who also don't administrate and advocate well for themselves. What I deemed to be a great waste of my time in graduate school, and which CMHCs didn't spend any time at all doing, is the very thing that keeps social workers alive and mental health counselors anemic.

    So, what are you going to do about this? Here are my thoughts.

    I am reminded of a similar situation that occurred over two hundred years ago, when a new emerging nation was having growing pains. Each state in the newly formed confederation kept to themselves and didn't function as a whole. They each had their own interests to attend to, and rightly so. They were different from each other. They had their own focuses, perhaps they were all doing fine on their own, but that wasn't going to be enough if they wanted to emerge as an independent nation. At that time a battle cry flag emerged. That battle cry flag holds a powerful place in American history, and provides a message that I think should be adopted by all mental health counselors. Join or Die! The flag was yellow and had a depiction of a snake cut into several separate parts. Only together could the separate states hope to survive the overwhelming onslaught of their time. That lesson applied then. It still applies now, especially for UMHCA.

     Join UMHCA and take up the task of administrating and advocating for yourself. Your school didn't teach you to do this, and that is hurting you. Take some advice from a social worker who doesn't need to join UMHCA but has and 'come join UMHCA.'  Become your own administrative activist – for if you don't others who are administrating and are activists (social workers) will move forward into the mental health future without you.

    Sincerely  Dennis Tucker, LCSW

  • 27 Mar 2018 1:07 PM | Paul Callister (Administrator)

    RESEARCH: A quantitative study: A correlational study of leadership style, burnout, and self-care for mental health counselors.

    Purpose of the research:

    The purpose of this study is to address the gap in literature by examining a potential correlation in leadership style, burnout, and use of self-care with mental health counselors in the Western United States.

    Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria:

    ● Licensed mental health counselor in one of the following States: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, or Utah.
    ● Current licensure required to participate
    ● Worked minimum 3 years as mental health counselor

    Please feel free to share this with others that you think may meet the criteria.

    Survey link:


    Amber Layton 970-946-5173
    Capella University-PhD student

  • 23 Mar 2018 11:13 AM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    Thanks to Mike for his incredible presentation. As promised, his presentation is posted here in this link:!Avj0Bb8X8fqnhId0FhdHDklguNKQUw

    To follow this link, you will need a free Microsoft OneDrive account.  That can be arranged here:

  • 20 Feb 2018 12:50 PM | Paul Callister (Administrator)

    Fact Sheet: Medicare and Mental Health

    Prepared by the American Mental Health Counselors Association

    Mental Health Counselors (MHCs) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) need to be recognized by Medicare. Here are five good reasons: 
    1. Elderly Mental Health Problems—Several recent reports have indicated that limited access to mental health services is a serious problem in the Medicare program. According to a Surgeon General’s report, 37% of seniors display symptoms of depression in a primary care environment. 
    2. Comparable Education—The covered mental health professionals recognized by Medicare presently include psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health clinical nurse specialists, and clinical social workers. MHCs and MFTs are not listed as Medicare-covered providers despite the fact that both groups have education, training, and practice rights equivalent to or greater than existing covered providers.
    3. Lack of Access—Approximately 77 million people live in 3,000 mental health professional shortage areas. Fully 50% of rural counties in America have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. Research shows that MHCs and MFTs are located in many rural and underserved areas that do not have any of the current Medicare providers.
    4. Medicare Inefficiency—Inpatient psychiatric hospital utilization by elderly Medicare recipients is extraordinarily high when compared to psychiatric hospitalization rates for patient covered by Medicaid, VA, TRICARE, and private health insurers. One third of these expensive inpatient placements are caused by clinical depression and addiction disorders which can be treated for much lower costs when detected early through the outpatient mental health services of MHCs and MFTs: Studies conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show Medicare is spending on average $9,000 per inpatient mental health claimant and only $400 per outpatient mental health claimant. Medicare’s greater ratio of spending on inpatient mental health versus outpatient mental health is the inverse of mental health purchases exercised by other insurers. 
    5. Costs—The addition of MHCs and MFTs should save money over time. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost is $100 million over five years/$400 million over ten years, but these do not include any cost offsets. Our proposal proposes to pay MHCs and MFTs only 75% of the psychologist’s rate for mental health services, thereby saving money when the lower cost provider is accessed. This legislation would not change the Medicare mental health benefit or modify the MHC or MFT scope of practice, but instead allow seniors access to the high quality “medically necessary” mental health care services of MHCs and MFTs. 

    We need Utah Senators and House Representatives to support and cosponsor: 

  • 17 Jan 2018 10:16 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    By Scott Carter

    I think sometimes as adults we forget about how difficult it can be to be a teenager and the challenges that come with it. Most teens that I work with have problems with their peer group and this often ends up being the main struggle for most teenagers. It’s important for almost every teenager to feel accepted and a sense of belonging at school and among their peers. So many of them feel out of place and usually take it pretty hard. Teens have social anxiety, experience rejection, feel left out, feel lonely, get depressed and experience doubt while they form their identity. What I really want to emphasize is that this is not a reflection of the quality of parenting that a teen receives. Let me say that again, just in a different way. If your teenager is struggling, it’s not a direct reflection of your success or failure as a parent.

    Family sitting in living room smiling

    I think a fair comparison is when kids get sick. When you have a new baby, you want them to be healthy and well and don’t want them to get sick. But as we have all learned, this is unavoidable. Kids get sick. A lot. Sometimes they seem to pick up almost literally anything and everything. They have a brand spanking new immune system and it’s virtually useless when they are young because the immune system hasn’t been exposed to anything yet and hasn’t had a chance to get stronger. A sick baby or small child has absolutely no direct reflection of the quality of the parents or whether or not that parent is adequate. Babies and kids getting sick is an unavoidable part of being young. 

    When we are young, we get physically sick a lot. When we become a teen, this is when we become mentally sick. I don’t think this happens when we are young because our brain is still very much under construction. When kids hit their early or pre-teens, there is a major event; it’s awkward, weird and confusing and it’s called puberty. Both our body and brain undergo major changes during this time. By our early teens, we start to develop something that we can’t see but is very real. An ego. Little kids don’t have an ego, thank goodness, because this is the part of the consciousness that most commonly develops mental illness. When teens develop their ego, they start to compare themselves more to others, notice differences, develop mistrust and begin to discern, acutely, all the things that they dislike about themselves and each other while making sure that they go through the trouble of pointing it all out to each other.

    Honestly, when teens become anxiousdepressed, sad, feeling left out, like they don’t belong and so on, it’s a pretty normal thing, just like them getting sick when they were young. For a teenager, every day is kind of uncharted territory. It’s natural and normal for teens to struggle to some degree or another. What I want parents to understand here is that this is not a reflection on a parent as a failure or as  a success. Even the very best parents have teenagers that struggle. But it’s extremely common for me to encounter parents to take their teens struggles as something very personal. I don’t think this is a fair or accurate way to measure or determine the quality of parenting. 

    I think perhaps one big mistake that parents overlook is that they often compare themselves to other parents. I discourage this for a couple of main reasons. One is that the comparisons aren’t usually accurate ones as I often hear parents refer to social media when they make comparisons. I find this to be problematic because social media is rarely an accurate depiction of what people’s lives are really like. Social media is really just a commercial, people only see what we want them to see. I think this is quite dubious and I would challenge the idea that people are as good of parents as they show themselves being on social media. The second reason I think comparisons is counterproductive is because this tends to detract from what kids need. A parent can inadvertently become overly preoccupied with their own perceived shortcomings as a parent when it would probably be better to focus on helping and supporting their teens. My tip here, avoid making comparisons. I promise you that every teen, parent and family has their own struggles and a struggling teenager is not an indication of a bad parent.

    Read on...

  • 13 Nov 2017 10:28 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    We need your help...

    PLEASE NOTE: The Email below and the Attached “AMHCA Medicare Grassroots Packet” (and related graphics) is being sent on behalf of Joseph R. Weeks, AMHCA President, asking for your support on Wednesday, November 15 for Medicare Reimbursement for Mental Health Counselors. Medicare Reimbursement for Mental Health Counselors is at stake.

    On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) will be organizing a Virtual Call-In Action Day to bolster Congressional support for the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 1879/HR 3032), by engaging state-level members to contact their Senators and Representatives. These bills will allow mental health counselors to bill for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. 

    On this day, the AMHCA state-level members will be targeting their efforts on nine Senators from nine states who sit on the Senate Finance Committee, and Representatives from the several states who sit on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.  With your help in providing collective and targeted grassroots pressure to Congressional offices, we will amplify the message that mental health counselors should be reimbursed my Medicare and garner greater Congressional support for this legislation.

    There are four main talking points for advocates to share in their phone calls and on social media embodied in the attached Grassroots Packet.  While the issue can be complex, the talking points are designed to be clear statements in order to allow you, your members, your colleagues and your network to feel comfortable showing your support for the Medicare Provider Recognition legislation for mental health counselors during your calls to Congressional offices.  We believe you and your members will find the packet and messages to be very user-friendly.

    In addition to the talking points for phone calls, in order to maximize the campaign’s visibility on social media, we will be using the hashtag “#SeniorsNeedMHCounselors” on all Facebook and Twitter posts.  We encourage all social media posts from AMHCA state-level members to include #SeniorsNeedMHCounselors.  

    Fighting for Medicare Provider Recognition for mental health counselors has been a major priority of AMHCA this year, and we are very pleased to provide to you the attached grassroots packet and information to assist your chapter’s members in reaching out to Members of Congress who serve on key health committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare policy and payment issues.

    If you have any questions about the grassroots packet, or any other queries on our Medicare legislative activities. Please contact Joel Miller, AMHCA’s ED, at 703-548-4474.  There is also contact information embodied in the packet.

    Thank you again for all your support this year on all of our collective Medicare Provider Recognition efforts!


    Joseph R. Weeks
    American Mental Health Counselors Association

  • 31 Aug 2017 1:05 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    The Red Cross Needs YOU:
    Professional Counselors for Hurricane Response

    So far, Hurricane Harvey has devastated 12,000 square miles in Texas and Louisiana and affected more than 1.3 million people. The American Red Cross is in great need of disaster mental health volunteers to help individuals and families cope with the trauma of this natural disaster.

    As a Red Cross partner, the American Counseling Association is asking all Red-Cross-certified disaster mental health volunteers who are able to be deployed to contact their Red Cross chapter as soon as possible.

    Due to the urgent need for volunteers as a result of this hurricane, the Red Cross is deploying professional counselors who are licensed or certified and are not yet in the Red Cross system. Deployments are scheduled for nine days and may send volunteers—at least initially—to areas without electricity, cell phone service, or many comforts.

    If you are not yet a Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer and wish to deploy to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, please go to the following link for more information:

  • 8 Aug 2017 7:02 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    by Nevin G. Alderman, MA, CMHC 

    In all our research, the most common reason couples pursue couples counseling is communication issues. While communication seems to be the primary issue causing problems, there is generally a deeper issue at play that often goes unaddressed. Because of this, couples can spend significant time and money focused on a symptom of the problem, rather than the root of the problem. Let me explain.

    Let’s say a couple is having disagreement about the way they divide household responsibilities. No matter how much they discuss the issue, and no matter the various strategies the couple uses to resolve the issue, time and time again conflict erupts and relational injuries occur. While these communication issues might seem to have originated around dishes, rarely is that one issue the source of all their concern. As couples consider their communication problems, they begin to realize that communication break-downs are becoming an epidemic: How often to visit the in-laws, how we spend our money, our sex life, our approach to parenting, our pursuit of hobbies or interests, and so forth. All of these areas seem to be wrought with conflict and relational injury. The couple just can’t seem to get on the same page.

    A majority of the time, when couples think they are experiencing a communication issue, what they are really experiencing is a perception issue. You see, in relationships, things like a concern about dishes can easily become a concern about my perception of your love for me. When this occurs, while who will do the dishes remains a point of disagreement, more devastating than that is what the dishes have begun to represent to me. Things like, “You don’t love me,” “you don’t respect me,” “you don’t value me,” and so forth. The devastation of this perception is much deeper than who will do the dishes, which means there is a lot more riding on our conversation about dishes than either partner realized. However, this perception issue often doesn’t end there. At its most destructive levels, this perception issue can begin to be internalized by one or both partners into a self-message that is used to conclude meaning about themselves and the world around them. An example is when the perception that, “you don’t love me” becomes “I am unlovable.” When this occurs, the disagreement about things like dishes, in-laws, intimacy, or parenting reaches a whole new level of devastation. With the emotional weight of my lovability riding on our everyday communication, it doesn’t take long before perceived relational injuries become too painful to endure. It is in this manner that couples arrive at the hopeless resolution that they must not be compatible, with their best explanation for why they are experiencing so much difficulty being “communication issues”.

    Every day, thousands of couples will end their relationship because they just can’t seem to fix their communication problems. Thankfully, there is hope! Communication issues can be worked through, and healing begins with the understanding of the principles we’ve just reviewed. As couples recognize their destructive self-messages, and understand more clearly their misperceptions, their ability to communicate about every-day decisions and difficulties becomes much easier. Opportunities for closeness and connection increase, deeper levels of understanding are achieved, and greater levels of fulfillment are attained.

    Nevin G. Alderman is the Owner and Clinical Director of Renew Relationship Counseling; a therapeutic clinic that specializes in relationship-focused services. Nevin holds a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling, and has been providing therapeutic services to couples, individuals, and families for over 10 years. For more information, visit:

  • 19 Jun 2017 8:15 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    By Scott Carter

    Years ago I had the opportunity to create and teach my own parenting class based on my experience working with troubled teenagers in a residential treatment setting. It specifically focused on teenagers and I had 6 specific topics and lessons each week. Even though I felt like all of them were important, I always looked forward to the night when I talked to parents about enabling versus empowering. Out of all the things that I have taught to parents and worked with them on, next to building and keeping a good relationship, this is probably the most important factor that can have the greatest effect on a child’s success or failure in life.

    When I talk about enabling, I always refer to the behavior of parents in which they attempt to make life smooth for their kids, usually by doing things that remove natural consequences that result from their teen’s choices and behavior and thereby enabling bad or less effective behaviors. When parents enable their teens, they hope that their kids will understand and appreciate the help and advantages that come from doing so but this is just not in the nature of human psyche. People need to experience the ups and downs of life to appreciate what they have or don’t have. Teenagers aren’t going to grasp these concepts without having the powerful opportunity to learn through experience.

    It would be nice if teenagers just understood how nice it is to have certain advantages but honestly, don’t count on it. Enabling behaviors can spare kids from day to day heartaches and hassles but unfortunately it sets them for much bigger problems down the road. When parents enable them, they often remove the opportunities that kids need to learn how adult life works. They won’t just pick it up on their own, they have to learn the vital lessons that help them understand it and unfortunately, sometimes parents find themselves on the disappointing end of finding that their enabling produced a spoiled, entitled and unmotivated teenager. To be fair, this is often true for most teens, don’t expect them to be grateful or particularly sensitive to your time. It’s frustrating but to a degree it’s also completely normal. 

    Teens who have a high level of enabling from their parents can develop highly rebellious and dysfunctional behaviors and by the time they turn 18 they can be completely unprepared for adulthood. I highly recommend for to parents to decrease and minimize their enabling behaviors, especially when their teens are young. They’re not too young to develop the knowledge and skills needed to successfully traverse into adulthood. If you want to stop enabling your child, you may need to do some emotional work on yourself first. I know many parents who I would consider to be very good parents but what holds them back is this overwhelming shameful feeling that they are bad parents. Many of them have a case of confirmation bias in which every mistake they make only confirms the negative belief that they have about themselves being a bad parent. There’s also this pervasive belief in today’s society that I see a lot in parents. They seem to think that a struggling teen means that they have failed as a parent. I’ve written an entire article on this, I’d invite you to check it out if this rings true.

    As I write this article on enabling versus empowering, I think it’s fitting for parents to empower themselves by rebuilding the framework of what they think is and is not an indicator of a good parent. I recently read a thread on an online forum, asking parents of older children what they wish they had done different. Overwhelmingly, many parents stated that they had wished that they let their kids fail more and let them learn from their own hardships growing up. I believe that a good parent loves their children and does their best to help them grow into a happy and healthy adult. I believe that the best parents aren’t afraid to be the bad guys, let their kids stumble and fall while helping, supporting and teaching them along the way. I will get into more detail to what this looks like in more detail later so stay tuned. I’ve already stated this but I really want to drive it home: a struggling teenager does not equate to bad parenting. I also want to confront the idea that it’s the parent’s job to prevent their child from going through hardships. I’ve heard parents say “I don’t want my kids to have to go through that.” While I understand the reasoning behind that, there is literally no other way for them to learn some of life’s most important lessons.

    Let me lay out some basic principles of enabling versus empowering:

    Read more about the three basic principles...

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 

Utah Mental Health Counselors Association is Utah's hub for enhancing the profession of mental health counselors.
UMHCA is a 501(c)6 organization.
© 2018 UHMCA • Privacy • Site Map

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software