History of UMHCA

History of Utah Mental Health Counseling

A number of early pioneers had been engaged in legislation in the mid 1990's to license professional counselors. Since that time, the University of Phoenix was instrumental in achieving a CACREP certified mental health counselors master’s degree program. Although Brigham Young University and the University of Utah had programs in counseling, it was the University of Phoenix that provided the primary sponsorship for UMHCA and our affiliation with AMHCA and ACA. Back then, meetings for the association were always held at the University of Phoenix main campus in Salt Lake City.

Because of the foresight of the pioneers of our profession, Utah has among the highest standards of any state for licensing requirements. This included originally taking the National Counselor Examination (NCE) as well as the National Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE). The MCMHCE represents the highest level of board certification for mental health counselors. Originally, counselors also had to take a state laws and requirements examination but this was subsequently dropped. All of the requirements for Utah State licensure are so rigorous that it enables fully licensed Utah counselors to have excellent licensure portability, if they move to another state. 

UMHCA board members have contributed greatly to the profession and to provide support to mental health counselors. At some point, UMHCA discontinued its affiliation with ACA and we subsequently joined the AMHCA unified dues member program. 

UMHCA has always sent representatives to the annual AMHCA leadership training programs as well as their annual conferences. Nearly all of the presidents of UMHCA have profited by the leadership training they received at AMHCA. 

Most of our state chapter presidents, went on to serve at the Utah State DOPL board. UMHCA has always had a representative to the Utah State, Behavioral Healthcare Workforce Workgroup. This workgroup was responsible for proposing legislation to establish the licensing and educational requirements for Substance Use Disorder Counselors. It also meets to make recommended changes to all laws that pertain to mental health in our state. It includes representatives from associations representing psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, substance use disorder counselors, and medical doctors. 

UMHCA proposed a number of changes to the Utah State Mental Health Practice Act. This included the recognition of masters degree graduates in mental health counseling for the first time as state licensed Mental Health Therapists. Also, the title for our profession was changed from Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) to Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC). This reflected the historical title of Clinical Mental Health Counselor that was adopted in 1977 by the introduction of the NCMHCE in that year. This followed the establishment of the American Mental Health Counselors Assistant in 1976.

Current President

2023-2024 Kristal James

President Elect

2024-2025 Michael Gerald

Past Presidents

2020-2023 Anna Lieber

2018- 2020 Julie Tucker 

2017-2018 Paul Callister

2016-2017 Jason Wagner

2015-2016 Desmond Lomax

2014-2015 Sandi Evans

2013-2014 Deborah Wayman

2012-2013 Paul Carver

2011-2012 Sarah DeHaan

2010-2011 Gray Otis

2009-2010 Jeri Sena

2008-2009 Ruth Baxter 

2007-2008 Robert Snarr

2006-2007 Christi Kane

2005-2006 Dean Workman

2004-2005 Don Beck

Utah Mental Health Counselors Association is Utah's hub for enhancing the profession of mental health counselors.
UMHCA is a 501(c)6 organization.

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