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In government, elected and appointed officials are not obligated to explore opinion or protect the interests of people who are absent from the conversation. The democratic process is just that, a process. You may wonder what exactly the democratic process is, how you fit in and what it means if you are not a Democrat. First, know that the democratic process has nothing to do with what political party you affiliate yourself with. It is a process that is not perfect; however, it does include all people.

To influence the process, you must get involved and stay involved. The democratic process refers to a set of principles and procedures by which individuals and groups within a society can participate in the decision-making process that shapes the policies and actions of their government. In a democratic society, citizens have the right to vote for their representatives and to participate in the political process through public debate, discussion and activism.

The democratic process also includes the protection of individual rights and freedoms — such as freedom of speech, assembly and the press — as well as the rule of law, which ensures that all individuals are subject to the same laws and legal procedures, regardless of their social status or political power. Through the democratic process, citizens have the opportunity to shape the policies and actions of their government, hold their elected officials accountable and work toward a more just and equitable society.

As a licensed professional counselor, you possess the knowledge, expertise and real-life stories that are beneficial to the leaders making decisions about your profession. To be an asset to your legislators, you must be prepared. Here are six advocacy tips that can help you or your organization to effectively advocate for your cause:

  1. Know your audience. It is important to understand the interests, values and priorities of the legislator or agency you are trying to influence. Tailoring your messages and arguments to resonate with your audience can increase the likelihood of success.
  2. Build relationships. Developing strong relationships with policymakers, stakeholders and other advocates can help you build support for your cause, gain access to decision-makers and identify potential allies.
  3. Be strategic. Set clear goals, identify the most effective tactics to achieve those goals and allocate your resources wisely. It is also important to be flexible and adapt your strategies based on changing circumstances or new information.
  4. Use facts and statistics. Providing data and evidence to support your arguments can increase their credibility and effectiveness. Be sure to use reliable sources and present information in a clear and compelling way.
  5. Mobilize your supporters. Grassroots advocacy can be a powerful tool for influencing policy decisions. Encourage your coalition and supporters to contact their elected officials, attend public meetings and demonstrate the importance of their cause by sharing their stories and experiences.
  6. Contact the ACA Government Affairs Team. The American Counseling Association’s Government Affairs and Public Policy team has a combined 50 years of experience working in local, state and federal affairs. Please contact the team by email at advocacy@counseling.org or by phone at 1-800-347-6647. We are equipped to guide you through your advocacy needs.

The ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team makes every effort to keep counselors informed on issues that affect the profession. One simple way for you to stay informed is to sign up to become an ACA advocate. You can do this by visiting the Take Action page. Once you are there, scroll down to sign up for alerts. After you sign up, you will begin to receive the critical information needed to take action to support the profession in real time. From the same page, you can also click on Advocacy Resources to find ACA’s 2023 legislative agenda, our advocacy toolkit and more.

In June, ACA launched the newly redesigned ACA Advocacy Resources webpage. This page provides quick tips and brief one-page documents that will help you to effectively advocate, build coalitions, write op-eds for advocacy and more.

Thank you for being an ACA member and for your continued advocacy efforts.


Brian D. Banks is the chief government affairs and public policy officer for the American Counseling Association. Contact him at bbanks@counseling.org.

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.