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.

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  • 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...

  • 13 May 2017 7:46 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    On-going research demonstrates that total mental health is a key to achieving added success in life. The application of specific mental health guidelines often creates a decisive advantage! 

    Complete mental health includes cognitive strength, emotional vitality, and relationship quality. It focuses on how these factors critically influence each other. Mental health encompasses our unique human needs for purpose, integrity, respect and love, creativity and inspiration. It integrates the essential elements of healthful living with best the practices of positive psychology and proven interpersonal skills. Individuals who really enjoy their lives are both physically and mentally fit. They also benefit from productive lifestyles, caring relationships, and peace of mind.

  • 11 Mar 2017 6:45 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    Nearly everyone at one time has wanted to know if they could benefit from mental health counseling. This evaluation asks a few questions that you can use to assess whether it would be helpful to consult with a Licensed Professional Counselor. Most people have an instinctive sense how their life is going. Take a few minutes to consider the questions below.

    • In the last year has there been a major change in your life which has been difficult to deal with?

    For example; have you or someone close to you experienced a significant illness or injury, has there been a negative change in the quality of your relationships with family members or friends, has there been a death of a loved one, have you or a family member been unemployed or retired, etc?

    • Have you generally felt worse about your ability to cope with the stresses of your life?

    For example; do you feel tired more often, are you less able to deal with family members or others, are you more likely to be irritated or angry, do you feel sad or anxious much of the time, do you get much less enjoyment out of life, etc.

    • Do you sense that some experiences from your past have hindered you from accomplishing what you want to or are still disturbing to you?

    For example; have you had to deal with one or more unresolved traumatic experiences including abuse of any kind, any situation that was life-threatening for you or a loved one, constant criticism, recurring nightmares, upsetting memories, any experiences that leave you feeling overwhelmed, etc?

    • Have others told you that they are concerned about you?

    For example; have friends or family members remarked on your health or on how you interact with others, do others seem more irritated with you, has anyone commented that you have changed or that you have been drinking or using drugs more, has someone expressed concern about you engaging in inappropriate or unsafe behaviors, etc?

    • Have there been any negative changes in your routines or lifestyle?

    For example; have you given up hobbies or activities that you used to enjoy, do you visit less often with friends, do you drink or use drugs more, have you quit exercising, etc?

    • In the last year, do you believe that you do not feel as well as you used to?

    For example; do you think that you do not function as well physically, emotionally, or mentally; have you experienced declining health, lack of sleep, memory problems, difficulty concentrating on tasks, a general feeling of depression or unease, or anything else that has troubling to you?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you sense that something is wrong in your life or in your close relationships, you may want to consider talking about your concerns with someone you trust. A frank discussion with a family member, friend, or clergy may be helpful in assessing the extent of your discomfort.

    Licensed Professional Counselors have a master's degree in clinical counseling and are nationally certified. They are skilled in helping individuals and families work through problems. Counselors are alert to the mental, emotional, interpersonal, and physical health issues that may be negatively affecting you. They help people use their own inherent abilities to achieve richer, more fulfilling lives.

  • 14 Jan 2017 6:44 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    Mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to provide high quality care that’s more affordable than other practitioners.


    • According to the report, "Mental Health, United States, 2002" published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 100,000 professional counselors are licensed or certified for independent practice in the United States.
    • The majority of national behavioral health managed care companies reimburse mental health counselors for services they provide.
    • The median cost per session for mental health counselors is $85, compared to a median cost of $100 and $145 for psychologists and psychiatrists respectively, according to the October 2000 issue of Psychotherapy Finances.
    • Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia license or certify mental health counselors for private practice.
    • Mental health counselors adhere to a rigorous code of ethics.

    Mental health counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for education, training and clinical practice. The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) is the professional membership organization that represents the mental health counseling profession. Clinical membership in AMHCA requires a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health field and adherence to AMHCA's National Standards for Clinical Practice.

    Graduate education and clinical training prepare mental health counselors to provide a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. The core areas of mental health programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs include:

    • Diagnosis and psychopathology
    • Psychotherapy
    • Psychological testing and assessment
    • Professional orientation
    • Research and program evaluation
    • Group counseling
    • Human growth and development
    • Counseling theory
    • Social and cultural foundations
    • Lifestyle and career development
    • Supervised practicum and internship

    Licensure requirements for mental health counselors are equivalent to those for clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists - two other disciplines that require a master's degree for independent status.

    • A licensed mental health counselor has met or exceeded the following professional qualifications:
    • Earned a master's degree in counseling or a closely related mental health discipline;
    • Completed a minimum of two years post master's clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional; and
    • Passed a state-developed or national licensure or certification examination.

    Mental health counselors practice in a variety of settings, including independent practice, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, employee assistance programs and substance abuse treatment centers. Mental health counselors are highly skilled professionals who provide a full range of services including:

    • Assessment and diagnosis
    • Psychotherapy
    • Treatment planning and utilization review
    • Brief and solution-focused therapy
    • Alcoholism and substance abuse treatment
    • Psychoeducational and prevention programs
    • Crisis management

    In today's managed care environment, mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of providing high quality care in a cost-effective manner. Mental health counselors provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy. They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical problem solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution.

  • 13 Aug 2016 7:42 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    UTIN follows the 12-traditions of the various 12-step programs.

    Visit for more information.

  • 20 Oct 2015 7:47 PM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

    NDAA/TRICARE Bill Awaits President's Decision

    In spite of a renewed Presidential veto threat, this week Congress will forward to the White House the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 (NDAA). The annual Department of Defense policy bill authorizes military pay and benefits, including making modifications to the TRICARE program. The enormous bill has been entangled for months in a larger battle over defense and domestic spending levels, and it remains uncertain when the President will sign it, although his approval is expected before the end of the year. AMHCA is focused on one provision that will temporally expand TRICARE’s August 18, 2014, rule for Certified Mental Health Counselors (CMHCs).

    The final bill language, which is expected to become law, extends TRICARE independent practitioner status to a broader group of state licensed counselors than originally included in the 2014 rule. The compromise language adopted in the final bill recognizes graduates with masters or doctoral counseling degrees from CACREP accredited programs in addition to masters or doctoral counseling degrees from programs accredited by 10 more agencies. Graduates from any of the TRICARE recognized programs would be eligible for TRICARE independent practice.

    Pressure Upped for Mental Health Reform and Medicare Inclusion

    Congressional momentum is continuing to build for legislation to respond to mass gun shootings now regularly at the top of the national news. Congress is particularly concerned about any relationship between mass gun violence and what most see as a broken mental health system. Many feel increasing political pressure to pass a reform bill that responds to mass gun violence without addressing any new restrictions on access to firearms. Behind the scenes, movement is accelerating behind a number of mental health reform bills. Unfortunately, many fiscal conservatives have expressed little willingness to expand community-based services such as AMHCA’s Medicare provider status amendment or the expansion of Medicaid coverage to more individuals. AMHCA and our coalition partners are meeting behind the scenes with congressional offices on the issues and are continuing to urge inclusion of our Medicare provider status legislation.

    Step 1
    Look Up Your Members of Congress
    To find your representative search US Representative followed by your zipcode. To find your two Senators search by your state name followed by your US Senators 2015

    Step 2
    Use Our Template
    Customize as appropriate. Be sure to include the bill number.
    Senate Letter & House Letter

    Step 3
    Email Your Representative and Senators

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