Email. Facebook. Smartphones. Technology is an ever-growing part of counselors’ day-to-day work. So much so, in fact, that the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics devoted an entire section to “Distance Counseling, Technology and Social Media.”

For those very reasons, a group of counselors have come together to form the Association for techCounseling and Technology (ACT).

Marlene Maheu, the association’s president, says ACT will focus on technology and its uses in counseling, as well as questions counselors have about using it in their work.

For instance, Maheu says, what if you communicate with a client through text messages, and then you lose your cell phone? How can a counselor use Twitter to promote a private practice or disseminate information to students? What about if a counselor is doing a session with a client via Skype, but the client closes the program and break off contact with the counselor?

“This whole [topic] is crescendoing,” says Maheu, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in San Diego who specializes in technology training at her online-based TeleMental Health Institute. “People have very, very good questions. It’s not that it’s complex, [but] it’s involved, and it requires some discussion.”

“The world is not going to wait for us to catch up,” she says. “Technology is evolving on many different fronts, and we as a group want to help counselors get in tune with that.”

ACT has submitted an application to the American Counseling Association Governing Council to become an organizational affiliate of ACA. The Governing Council is expected to consider the proposal at its meeting during the ACA Institute for Leadership Training in late July.

Maheu says ACT group leaders began collecting signatures for the application in March. More than 200 counselors signed during the first few weeks; ACT submitted more than 300 signatures with its application in June.

ACT has written bylaws and formed an executive committee in preparation for this month’s Governing Council hearing.

According to the ACA bylaws, the Governing Council can designate a group that is “moving toward divisional status” as an ACA organizational affiliate “until such time as it qualifies for division status.” Divisions must have a minimum of 500 members, while organizational affiliates must have a minimum of 200.

ACA currently has 20 divisions, but no organizational affiliates.

Regardless of what happens with the Governing Council, ACT will continue its work, says Donna Ford, a retired counselor who developed a formal initiative to support the professional use of technology during her term as president of ACA in 1999-2000. ACT aims to create a place for counselors to ask questions, discuss issues, stay up-to-date and “spread a message of best practices” about the latest uses and standards for technology and the counseling profession, Ford says.

ACT also plans to establish relationships with other entities within the profession, such as licensing boards, university counseling programs and ACA divisions, as well as serve as a voice for counselors in the technology world, such as with the creators of smartphone apps, Maheu says.

“We’re trying to bring the profession up to speed with what’s already going on [with technology],” she says.

Maheu and Ford have led Learning Institutes and Education Sessions on technology and counseling for several years at the annual ACA Conference. While they’ve been fielding questions and interest from counselors about the topic for years, it reached a “critical mass” this spring, according to Maheu.

“It’s just time,” she says. “It’s a function of the times that some group emerges to show some leadership and try and get more of an understanding of what’s going on [with technology].”

Ford notes that technology affects all counselors, no matter their specialty. “From mental health [counselors] to counselor educators, technology is going to affect the delivery of services we provide,” says Ford. “It’s a global thing.”




To learn more about the Association for Counseling and Technology, or to get involved:







Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at


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