Our History

Four independent associations convened a joint convention in Los Angeles, CA in 1952: 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, in hopes of providing a larger professional voice. They established the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA), later changing names in 1983 to the American Association of Counseling and Development. On July 1, 1992, the association changed its name to the American Counseling Association (ACA) to reflect the common bond among association members and to reinforce their unity of purpose.

Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, just outside Washington, DC, the American Counseling Association promotes public confidence and trust in the counseling profession so that professionals can further assist their clients and students in dealing with the challenges life presents. The American Counseling Association services professional counselors in the U.S. and in 50 other countries including Europe, Latin America, the Philippines and the Virgin Islands. In addition, the American Counseling Association is associated with a comprehensive network of 19 divisions and 56 branches. The American Counseling Association also collaborates with several corporate and related organizations to enhance member services.

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Latest News

ACA Names Representatives to CDC Project

by Amber McLaughlin | Feb 27, 2014
Five expert members will contribute to the Safe and Supportive Schools Project, which will work with 19 state education agencies to promote the establishment of safe and supportive school environments for all students and staff as an approach to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for adolescents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases reported each year occur in young people, ages 15-24. In 2010, young people, ages 13-24, accounted for 21 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S.

This alarming trend clearly indicates that a change is needed in the standard national approach to addressing human sexuality. As part of its mission to enhance the quality of life in society and promote respect for human dignity and diversity, ACA supports a proactive approach to youth health and wellbeing. That’s why we have partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to implement the Safe and Supportive Schools Project (SSSP). 

Funded by the CDC for a five-year period, SSSP will work with 19 state education agencies to promote the establishment of safe and supportive school environments for all students and staff as an approach to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for adolescents.

ACA has selected five expert members who will review resources and provide implementation guidance for interventions that school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers can use in their districts.

Our representatives to the Safe and Supportive Schools Project are:

Vanessa Cantu, a school counselor at Besteiro Middle School in Brownsville, Texas.  Brownsville is currently the poorest city in the U.S. Consequently; Ms. Cantu works with many homeless students, as well as frequent drug users and students who are practicing unsafe sex.

Rick Gunsallus, PhD., who provides counseling services for schools in Broward County, Florida.  The county in which je works has the second highest number of new AIDS cases per capita in the U.S.  Dr. Gunsallus counsels homeless students, ESL students, and GLBTQ students.

Brian Law, a school counselor at Valdosta high School in Valdosta, Georgia. Mr. Law’s school has a 40% migrant population. He also has experience working in a Title I school.

Patrick Ryan Mullen, a doctoral student in Counselor Education. His dissertation is focusing on school counseling. Mr. Ryan has served as chair of the School Counseling department at Journeys Academy, an alternative and Title I school in Sanford, Florida.

Amanda Rumsey, a school counselor at McLendon elementary School in Decatur, Georgia. Ms. Rumsey enrolled in the doctoral counselor education program at Georgia State University. She has developed school-wide interventions for at-risk students.

"We are proud to play a role in this progressive initiative,” said Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, President of ACA.  “Facilitating empowerment for youth to make better decisions early in life, rather than solely focusing on problems after they manifest down the road, is and always will be one of the underlying values of our profession.”

For additional information about the project, please contact David Kaplan at dkaplan@counseling.org.