A Critical Analysis of Counseling’s Professional Identity Crisis

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

ACA Vistas Online

Volume Number

Article 8


The American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB) and the American Counseling Association (ACA) jointly sponsored the 20/20 Vision for the Future of Counseling (hereafter referred to as 20/20) to define and unify the counseling profession from other closely related helping professions. The 20/20 collaborative efforts began in January 2006 and include 31 organizational stakeholders in the profession of counseling (Kennedy, 2006). The purpose of this joint initiative is to develop a common vision and understanding for the counseling profession by the year 2020 in the areas of legislation, unity, identity, and public awareness (Linde, 2008). The 20/20 initiative developed in response to licensure portability, the challenges counselors face with differing licensure requirements across states (Hock, 2008; Kaplan & Gladding, 2011; Locke, 2011), and the resulting counselor professional identity crisis (Rollins, 2006, 2012). Even though “counselor identity has probably been debated so vigorously in the literature because the nature of the counseling profession makes it difficult to agree on the precise identity factors that distinguish counselors from other helping professionals” (Hansen, 2010, p. 102), we offer an expansion of this philosophical debate by critiquing the 20/20 initiative and analyzing attempts to dispel counselor professional identity myths.